The Gavilan Trail is a 2.43 mile long trail running from the small village of Amizette on State Road 150, a.k.a. Ski Valley Road. It is a steep and challenging trail climbing from 8,881 feet of elevation to 11,205 feet of elevation -- a rate of 1,000 feet per mile, which is among the highest in the area if not the highest. At the end of the trail it meets the Lobo Peak Trail and the Columbine Trail, providing access to Gold Hill, Red River, the Italianos Trail, the Manzanita Trail, the Yerba Trail, and many others. It has only two minor water crossings. Since the trail runs through a designated wilderness area only hikers or horses are allowed. Pack everything in and everything out.

During our first hike we found the trail virtually washed out in one location and blocked completely at several locations due to vegetation. Since that visit, the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) had visited the trail as one of their projects and these problems were all resolved. This group does tremendous work!

The track and elevation profile of the trail is here.

Trail Itinerary:

N36 35.613 W105 29.064. Elevation 8,881 feet. Start of the trail. Park near the trail on either side of the road but make sure to be completely off of the road.

N36 35.809 W105 28.871. .31 mile. Elevation 9,103 feet. Arrive at the junction with the old mining road. Do not turn right onto the road -- follow the road slightly left.

N36 35.810 W105 28.884. .33 mile. Elevation 9,127 feet. Arrive at an old fence with a sign designating the wilderness boundary. Shortly after this on the left you will see signs of mining many years ago. A hundred feet later and slightly to the left you will see an old concrete pad with bolts in it that once held down some kind of equipment -- presumably from mining

N36 35.897 W105 29.014. .49 mile. Elevation 9,268 feet. The trail had almost completely washed out at this point but the RMYC widened the trail and built some steps. You still need to traverse this carefully -- particularly on the way down.

N36 35.951 W105 29.066. .58 mile. Elevation 9,336 feet. Arrive at the first water crossing. The creek is small and this is easily crossed during any season. It is also the beginning of a much steeper portion of the trail with several switchbacks.

First Gavilan Meadwo N36 36.535 W105 29.314. 1.52 mile. Elevation 10,389 feet. After a particularly steep climb through aspen and fir stands you will arrive at a very large and beautiful meadow. Look around for wildlife. The trail continues through the meadow and climbs at the same time. This meadow has three segments divided by mixed conifer and aspen groves. The second segment is by far the biggest.

N36 36.803 W105 29.471. 1.89 mile. Elevation 10,675. Arrive at the second water crossing. Before crossing, follow the stream to the right to its source a hundred feet away. A real live mountain spring. After this point, you'll enter some woods and have a steep climb before the next point.

N36 36.921 W105 29.590. 2.07 mile. Elevation 10,886. Arrive at the second meadow after climbing a short but steep rocky trail. In this meadow the trail is poorly marked due to lack of traffic and you'll have to follow the rock cairns. You will exit this meadow into some really steep switchbacks and be at the top of the trail.


N36 37.026 W105 29.781. 2.33 mile. Elevation 11,205. Arrive at the summit. From here you can either turn around and good back, turn left and then left again for the Lobo Peak Trail, turn left and then bear right to the Columbine Trail, or turn right and continue on the Lobo Peak Trail to Gold Hill and numerous other destinations. As of July 9, 2010 the Columbine sign appears to have disappeared.

External links:

Carson National Forest, Gavilan Trail 60. Lots of incorrect information here. The trail runs for 2.43 miles to the junction of several other trails. It doesn't climb to 11,800. Water is available at various points with none after the second minor water crossing at the top of the big meadow.

Data files for download: