Cottonwood Creek Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Sangre de Cristo Range
14ers Served:  Challenger Point, Kit Carson Peak, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Humboldt Peak
Winter Access:  Unknown
Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2015-07-27 Road up to the trailhead is fine just beware the many Crestonians that like to meander the road. Parking lot is small so make sure you get there early for a spot. The bad news is the misquotes, which are the worst I‘ve seen and my friend (previously a guide in Denali) says they‘re worse then Alaska so don‘t forget the bug repellent or you‘ll be eaten alive. The trail is also conveniently Cairned all the way to cottonwood lake which wasn‘t always the case. Hjelmstadlt         
2015-04-01 The trail is clear to about 10k. after which there is considerable postholing through bushwhack/talus and very deep mushy snow. Hard freeze line is at about 11.2k, which should be supportable snow before the sun hits it in the mornings. Many cairns are poking through the snow and my ski track/ postholing should generally take you in the right direction. Trail winds quite a bit so keep a lookout for sudden bends and weird directions of travel. Above the slab/talus area the trail disappears in the snow. swbackcountry         
2015-01-26 Road is muddy, wet and lightly snow-packed in spots. Road is open to TH at the water tank. Trench exists (now) up to and up the slab area. Kiefer         
2014-03-24 an easily driveable, muddy road. there is a TH register & maps and warning signs about bears at the small trailhead area. Eagle Eye         
2014-02-17 Road dry all the way to the trailhead. Civic wouldn‘t have a problem getting there. jmanner         
2013-09-07 As open and ready as any other TH. It was easy to find and had parking for 7 vehicles the day we left. There is a sign in box at the TH for those interested. climbnowworklater         
2013-07-01 The Cottonwood Creek trailhead is open to the public for the foreseeable future and is now operated by the US Forest Service. On July 1, 2013 I received an email from Steve Harrell, who reported this update. So, Roach‘s comments in "Colorado‘s Fourteeners" (Third Edition) about the need to gain permission to use this trailhead, permission is NO LONGER true. There is no longer need to contact Steve or anyone else before using this trailhead. trinkner         
2012-09-04 I spoke with Steve H. last week and the trailhead should remain open in the future. However, plans exist to move the trailhead down the road, but that‘s better than it being closed. Also, returning to the car at the end of my trip over Labor Day Weekend, I noticed some food scattered about a vehicle whose side window had been forced open. Either it was a bear or a desperate human that created the mess. DArcyS         
2012-09-01 This is a great alternative to the South Colony side. Make sure you enter the right drainage (left at the creek crossing). MountainDawg  3       
2012-08-30 As of today; August 30, 2012; it is not necessary to contact the manager of the Baca Grande Water & Sanitation District if you plan to hike up the Cottonwood Creek trail to Crestone Peak, Needle, or Cottonwood Lake. SteveBonowski         
2012-07-19 We hiked all the way up to Cottonwood Lake ( and then to the top of the Needle). It would be easy to get sucked into hiking into the wrong drainage as the Cottonwood Lake drainage is not clearly visible until you arrive at tree line. We were able to solve the puzzle with a map and elevation readings off a GPS. It was very difficult to follow the trail but the best route seemed to be close to(but not across) the creek all the way up. Once we were above tree line we lost the trail and ended up climbing the south side of the creek above tree line but we did talk to other hikers who had managed to stay North of the creek which seems to be where the standard route is. Hiking this drainage in the dark would be very very difficult. There are multiple routes and lots of downed trees. All three in our party agreed that this was a difficult approach because of how steep it was and because of the route finding issues. sps70         
2012-07-14 My wife and I decided to check out this "new" TH. Easy 2wd access to the TH (Colorado has some unique communities), parking spots for 4 vehicles with some extra spots around. The trail is in good shape with just a few downed trees below 10k. Above 10k the downfall gets worse and the trail gets hard to follow. Above 10.5k the trail climbs through a well marked talus (Roach described them as boiler plate slabs) slope that is a nice scramble for an approach hike. We stopped at just under 11k and went back to picnic at a nice waterfall around 10400‘. This is a nice, rugged alternative to S. Colony that follows the rough and tumble Cottonwood Creek up. There are some decent dispersed camping spots along the way, I‘d recommend trying to get to around 10k for camping. No sign of bears. aaronmojica    1    
2012-07-10 As noted, the trailhead is open for the season. There is no camping or fires allowed at the trailhead. Prospective climbers are asked to contact the manager of the Water & Sanitation District prior to your arrival. Steven Harrell The purpose of the contact is if search & rescue services might be needed; also if anything changes at the trailhead throughout the summer, you can be notified before you arrive. The kiosk has been put up and there is a portable toilet. There may also be a box for surveys. Please complete one. SteveBonowski         
2011-11-14 The Cottonwood Creek Trailhead south of Crestone on the west side of the Sangres is OPEN for 2011 and 2012. This trail may be used to access the Crestones, Broken Hand, Pico Aislado, 13270, 13020, 12847, and other peaks in the area from the west side of the range. Some of these peaks do not have alternate shorter approaches. This historical trailhead had been closed for several years and was only opened in 2011 with little public announcement. The Forest Service is conducting a study of the trail and its future access is uncertain. In other words, use it before we lose it. To find the trailhead, leave Colorado state highway 17, 0.5 miles south of Moffat and head straight east (Road T) toward the town of Crestone. Just prior to the road turning north (left) into Crestone, turn south (right) into the Baca Grande Chalets Grants subdivision (there is a large sign) and follow the Camino Baca Grande road as it initially curves left (paved then dirt) through the subdivision for about 5.4 miles. When the road ends at a T intersection, turn left, pass a large water tank (in 0.1 miles) on the right, before the road passes through an indistinct meadow (0.2 miles) with the unsigned trailhead on the left. Park in the few spaces on the right side of the road in this meadow and find the trailhead going into the trees and uphill initially on the north side of the meadow (left side of the road) prior to the trail heading up the valley along the north side of Cottonwood Creek. This trail is not in the best of shape and downed trees should be expected. The road crosses Cottonwood Creek shortly after passing through the meadow. If you cross the Creek, you have passed the trailhead. There is a Forest Service sign that addresses trail monitoring equipment just before the road crosses the Creek. The trail is not located anywhere near that sign. Do not pass over Cottonwood Creek and only park in the meadow since all the land along the road is private property. The landowner allows PARKING IN THE MEADOW ONLY. There is NO CAMPING at the trailhead parking area but North Crestone Campgrounds is located on the north side of Crestone. Follow the paved winding road through the town and beyond as it turns to dirt to the Campgrounds which has several sites mostly along the right side of the road. The cost was $7.00 per site in 2011. If you are interested in the peaks mentioned (other than the Crestones which can be accessed from other directions), you should take advantage of this trail before it may be closed permanently after 2012. Blue Knight         
2011-07-12 Manitou Institute will have a kiosk at the TH. All they ask is that you sign-in. alsrun         
2011-07-04 Open temporarily for the summer of 2011. tmathews         
2011-01-10 Cottonwood Creek Mike Waters         
2009-10-24 CMC met in late September with several of the local spiritual groups and a Saguache County commissioner to restart the negotiations process for access to Cottonwood Creek. Updated information has been exchanged and a facilitator agreed upon for subsequent meetings. The next meeting is tentatively set for late November. Steve Bonowski         
2008-09-16 Public Hearing Oct. 20, 2008 at the Saguache County Courthouse at 0900 hrs. to prove prescriptive historic public access to Cottonwood Creek trail from the Baca Grande subdivision. Please attend. wmfolk         
2008-06-16 This trail will remain closed to public access during the 2008 climbing season due to private property at the trailhead area. The property owner has asked not to be contacted for access. There are some ongoing discussions regarding access to this, and the Spanish Creek trail, convened by Saguache County government. CMC is a participant. However, the discussions are just beginning. Steve Bonowski June 16, 2008 Steve Bonowski         
2008-05-25 This is dated info - as of August, 2007. The trailhead is easy to reach but the trail has been obstructed with fallen trees throughout, and is extremely difficult to track in several places, leading to some awkward drops/cimbs over flatirons and at least one creek fording. I understand it‘s on private land and someone evidently wants to keep it private. Marmot72         
2006-08-22 On the other hand, the official position of the Rio Grande National Forest office in Saguache is "It's private land; there's no access. Period." tystent         
2006-08-22 I called the Manitou Foundation Inc, 13 Baca Townhouse, Crestone, CO 81131, (719) 256-4267, and spoke to a woman there. She says they would like you to sign a liability waiver to use the road on private property to this trailhead. Email her at for a form. tystent         
2006-08-01 The trail into Cottonwood Creek is signed as closed by a private landholder as of 7/30/2006. There was a phone number on the sign: 256-4267, for a conservation group whose name started with "Manitou", but I've forgotten the rest. We left a message with them, but have not tried contacting them again. trumpetsailor         

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