Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mesa Cortina Snowshoe

Distance: 3 miles round trip
Elevation: 8,824 ft - 9,473 ft
Elevation Gain: 649 ft net (790 cumulative)
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash until wilderness boundary (0.9 miles)
Tags: #snowshoe, #silverthorne, #coloradooutdoors

View from the Mesa Cortina Trail of family frolics 
The Mesa Cortina Trail is a popular trail in Silverthorne CO that in summer can be used as an after work doggie outing or connector trail to South Willow Falls. In winter, it makes for a pleasing snowshoe because it alternates between deep forest and open meadows.

The initial part of the trail travels through Aspens.
The trailhead is located in a residential area of Buffalo Mountain. There is a parking lot but no bathroom.
Looking back towards Lake Dillon from one of the early meadows
Shortly after the trailhead, the trail narrows and winds downwards through thick Fir trees covered in thick globs of snow. Protected and dark, I suspect this snow stays on the trees all winter. The only thing missing from this winter tableau was a Starbucks kiosk selling eggnog lattes.
The narrow Fir-laden part of the trail
Below this section is one of my favorite local meadows. The official route stays on the upper side with views of the Williams Fork Range, but the steep slopes and piles of snow are inviting and many a track attest to those who chose to frolic in the open.
Crossing another meadow
Beyond the meadow, the route begins a steep climb through a stand of mostly dead Lodgepole Pines. Stark and lonely, this segment will at least get your heart rate up.
Looking towards the Williams Fork Range
While in summer, I have traveled the entire length of the trail, in winter, I usually go out after work when time is limited and will stop after the trail levels out and begins its shift back towards the north. If you have plenty of time, you can continue all the way to the intersection with the Gore Range Trail. The scenery won't change much, though if you do.
Heading up hill into the trees. This segment is steeper than it looks.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Good to see lots of frolicking going on chez vous.