Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jim Creek Snowshoe

Distance: 6 miles round trip
Elevation: 9,230 ft - 10,113 ft
Elevation Gain: 883 ft
Dogs: Off leash
Tags: #snowshoe, #winterpark, #coloradooutdoors

A rare glimpse of the mountains to the northeast from the Jim Creek Trail
Jim Creek near the Winter Park Ski Resort is an easy snowshoe suitable for novices or those just beginning their winter conditioning. The trail is wide, well packed, and the elevation gain is extremely gradual. The trail is in the trees most of the time, and we were the only ones in sight. Solitude reigned supreme.

The trail head kiosk
The trail head is located across Highway 40 from the Winter Park Ski Area. The route begins next to the trail head kiosk in the G-parking area of Winter Park. The trail starts to the right on a boardwalk labeled the Discovery Trail. On the other side of the boardwalk, head left. You will pass under a large, cream-colored water pipe shortly thereafter. At 0.8 miles is a four-way junction with a sign for the James Peak Special Protection Area. Continue straight at the junction. At 1.4 miles is an Adopt-a-trail sign, at 2.1 miles the trees close in rather dramatically, at 2.54 miles we hit 10,000 ft, and at 2.8 miles (10,113 ft) we turned around.

The water pipe and National Forest Boundary
While in the trees most of the time there are occasional views of the side valley walls and one nice, but brief view of the summit of James Peak. Being in the trees has one main disadvantage, you are in the shade even if the day is beautifully sunny. It is much harder to stay warm without the welcoming Colorado sunshine.

Still near the parking area, the trail passes by a large picnic ground. The building is a bathroom that was closed.

Dark trees is the norm on the Jim Creek trail
Another open area
The spot at 2.1 miles where the trees close in was very intriguing. The trees seem to double in height and are so close to either side of the trail that I almost felt like walking sideways. The amount of snow bulging from every bough made this gauntlet feel almost cozy despite the chill. A few Starbucks gift cards handing from the branches would have made the experience complete!

The trees start to get taller
Your turn around point is going to be determined entirely by your energy level. Just past 2.6 miles, the trail ascends a series of short switch backs. After this point, however, the trail is more of a bushwhack. There are branches to duck, and the frozen creek is close at hand.

The one decent view of James Peak
The trees close in


Collabjan said...

This is one of my favorite snowshoe locations!
See for a cross-posting report on the same trail. It is also a great hike in the summer!

Kimberly Aardal said...

Looks like a nice jaunt! The next time I'm up near Winter Park, I'll check it out. Nice selection of hikes on your site too.

Nina said...

This looks like a beautiful (and cold) trail.

I met a senior citizen hiker from Colorado on my Isle Royale trip. We talked about trying to condition yourself for a hiking trip, and I told him that people look at you oddly where I live when they see you walking down the street with your backpack on. He said that kind of thing is universally understood in CO.

dougquinn said...

Thanks for the post! I'm headed to the area in about a month or two to visit some family and I'm really excited because I can bring my dog with me! I think I might have to get some new snowshoes though, I don't think my Yaktrax will make it through this one! :)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I hiked Jim Creek Trail Thanksgiving weekend 2011 and had an amazing time. It snowed lightly most of the day and we even got the rare opportunity to see a cow moose as she crossed right in front of our trail! We did not have snow shoes but instead were able to use our knee high hiking boots and got around just fine. We are not quite sure how far we went as I forgot my gps watch that we typically use but we went up at least another mile or so past where the trail is wide. Trail had been traveled by someone on snow skis and it was very steep and narrow and the snow was much deeper but what an outstanding trail! We are from Kansas and not accustomed to altitude but we made sure to drink ample amount of water and stopped when needed to catch our breath. We took chili in a thermos an enjoyed the piping hot meal far up into the trail. Wish I could post the picture of the moose ~ she was a beauty and an unexpected bonus! Talked to one other native hiker and he mentioned that he has seen a bull moose there at the base of the trail when it is colder. I would highly recommend to anyone from beginner on up as there are lower trails that anyone can do all the way up to the more avid hiker. Enjoy!!