Saturday, January 22, 2011

Treeline Loop Snowshoe

Distance: 3 miles round trip
Elevation: 10, 407 ft
Elevation Gain: 630 ft (cumulative)

Typical Segment of the inner portion of both the Treeline Loop and Powerhound Loop

The Treeline Loop on Tennessee Pass near Leadville and Ski Cooper is not the most exciting trail but it sure is popular. Exceptionally well marked, blue diamonds and large wooden signs guide cross-country skiers and snowshoers through the loop options, which is good, because otherwise it would be very easy to get lost.

The Treeline Loop starts in the trees past the bathroom and comes out just out of view to the left of the photo.

The route starts on Tennessee Pass in a large parking lot directly across from the entrance to Ski Cooper. For this parking lot there are 4 possible routes. The Treeline Loop and the Powderhound Loop are the shortest and together form a very mushed numeral 8. The middle portion of the 8 is the same for both loops.

The first trail marker. Both the Treeline Loop and Powderhound share the inner portion.

You can take either loop in any direction, but we chose to start at the western end of parking lot. This segment is coincident with the Continental Divide Trail and a sign within 50 yards lists mileages to Copper Mountain Ski Resort to the north (23 miles), and Hagerman Tunnel (see summer hike to that area) to the south (14.9 miles). Shortly beyond this is another sign showing the turn for the Powderhound Loop continuing up the Continental Divide Trail and both the Treeline Loop and Powderhound heading up the middle. This is the direction we chose.

Coming into the open meadow at the top of the ridgeline

The initial portion of the trail is totally in the trees and winds east and west as the trees permit. This is the first trail I have been on where there was a separate track for skiers and snowshoers. I found this particularly tedious because the two tracks interwove continuously so we were constantly trudging back and forth.

The trail sign at the end of the middle portion (at 1.34 miles)

After 400 ft or so of elevation gain we came to the top of the ridge. Here there were a few open meadows but still no views. There were so many tracks that it took us a while to find a blue diamond and our route. Don't let the meadow bushwhacks fool you, there is another wooden trail sign at the apex of the 8 (at 1.34 miles) and you should persist along the ridge until you come to it.

There are a few more open areas on the lower portion of the Treeline Loop, but not many.
Our original intent had been to do the Powderhound Loop, but we were frankly so bored with the area that we wanted out of there as quickly as possible and so chose to head left on the shorter Treeline Loop.

The junction with the Continental Divide Trail (at 1.92 miles) indicating the Treeline Loop heading left. The back side of this sign says "Colorado Trail" and points to the right from this angle.

From this point the trail heads sharply downward through yet more trees until it reaches the other side of the Continental Divide Trail. This junction at 1.92 miles is also marked with a wooden sign. From this intersection the Treeline Loop heads left and back up to the parking area.

Don't get excited by this "peek-a-boo". It lasted for a couple of seconds and was the only one we saw.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows I don't like being in the trees. Whether hiking or snowshoeing I like the wide-open view. Having done the Bemrose Ski Circus off of Hoosier Pass near the Breckenridge Ski Resort the day prior, this trail seemed like a snore-fest. Don't let my jaded attitudes prevent you from trying it however. It is ideal for novices since it is relatively flat and well marked and it would be ideal on a day when the nefarious Leadville winds are blowing. If you are in the area and want something more challenging with better views, check out Vance's Cabin, the Lower Mosquito Pass Road or my all time favorite Mayflower Gulch near Copper Mountain.


Linda said...

Obviously one for me, when I eventually get to your part of the world.

Anonymous said...

We just did this trail today and we just loved it. Snorefest? I think not!