Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lenawee Trail

Distance: 5.5 miles round trip to our lunch spot, 6.7 miles round trip to the ridge.
Elevation: 10,406 ft - 12,272 ft (lunch spot), 12,530 ft (ridge)
Elevation Gain: 1,900 ft (lunch spot), 2,130 ft (ridge)
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash
Date Hiked: 11 July 2013

The Lenawee Trail above treeline has spectacular views
The Lenawee Trail near Keystone Colorado takes the hiker to rarely visited Thurman Gulch on the back side of the Arapahoe Ski Area where you just might get harassed by domestically inclined Mountain Goats.

Peru Creek Road and the limited parking
The small trailhead sign
The Lenawee trailhead is on Peru Creek Road, which in turn is located on the way to Montezuma from Keystone. You will recognize the large parking lot on the left that is the winter trailhead for Peru Creek. Drive approximately 4.5 miles up the road until you see the trail sign on the left and then park along the road in one of the few spots that are far enough removed from the continual traffic. While Peru Creek is a dirt road that is slightly rough it is passable by your typical 2WD vehicle. Just be cautious if you decide to continue up the road towards Argentine Pass as Peru Creek gets progressively rougher the further you go.

The first mile of the trail is in the trees with limited views.
After the first switchback, interesting piles of rock break up the monotony.
The major downside of the Lenawee Trail is the first mile, which gains a healthy 840 ft in a long slog through the trees. On this trip, it was hotter than hell's half acre and I was leaking electrolytes at a prodigious rate. Fortunately, at treeline some clouds moved in and a cooling breeze saved me from transforming into a dessicated shrub.

The first views of Thurman Gulch appear
Almost above treeline
At 1.2 miles, the trail finally starts to switchback and open up with interesting rock formations. Views of Thurman Gulch appear as the Sub-alpine Firs start to shrink. Once above treeline options abound.  You can continue to the end of the trail, which crosses Thurman Gulch and climbs up to Arapaho Basin; wander east across the tundra to gaze down on Chihuahua Lake and Grays Peak; or park it on a rocky outcropping to lounge, feed, and admire the views. On this trip I chose the latter. This might have been a fortuitous choice. A family of four told me that on the ridge there were some overly protective Mountain Goats protecting their young'ens. They actually charged the family and drove them back down the trail.

This is my favorite view on the trail. They rock formations are huge. Note the trees to the left. They remind me of the aircraft carrier formation on the Shrine Mountain Trail.
Thurman Gulch dominates the views once the trees fade.
The Lenawee Trail is one of those places where the fun begins near the end of the route, so save it for a nice day. On a glorious Summit County day, when the weather is sublime, you could spend half a day wandering around above treeline.

The trail heads straight along the ridge to Thurman Gulch
The view from our lunch spot. It is another 1.2 miles round trip to the ridge and back.


Linda said...

My goodness, you do have feisty wildlife in the States. Ferocious mountain goats...

KT said...

Beautiful! We have never had any problems with mountain goats (though we have never seen them with little ones) is good information to know that for the future to keep distance.

sylvia murphy said...

And you should see the tourists!!

sylvia murphy said...

Neither have I. Since I was not there, I don't know for sure. It might have been the kids trying to get too close.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures with commentary are excellent. I can only assume you are professional trail-writer. So very well done....thanks

sylvia murphy said...

Thanks for the compliment!