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 Ptarmigan Trail

Length: Approx 4.2 miles round trip
Great views of the Gore Range, Buffalo Mt., Red Peak, Willow Peak, Red Buffalo Pass to the west. Views of the Ten Mile Range, Peak One, Ten Mile Canyon and Lake Dillon to the southwest
Difficulty Rating:
Beginner (moderate if you extend - see description)
Elevation Gain: Approx 990'

Take I-70 to Silverthorne Exit 205. Head north on Route 9 and turn right at the first stoplight (Wendy's is on your right). Turn right at the next stop sign and proceed .2 miles past the hotels on your right. Bear right onto road 2021 and parking for the trailhead is about .9 miles ahead on your right. The trail begins across the road from the parking area.

Right:  Near the beginning of the hike - leaving the sagebrush mound and entering the aspens



 Below: View of Buffalo Mt. and Red Buffalo Pass



If you are in Summit Co. in the fall this is a "must do" hike for the whole family to enjoy. While this is a beautiful, invigorating walk in any season, the golden aspen make this a spectacular fall adventure.

The trail begins across the road from the parking area and soon crosses a road to a dry, sagebrush mound where it ascends briskly to a lush aspen forest. As you gain elevation, enjoy the view of Lake Dillon behind you and Buffalo Mt., Red Peak and the Gore Range across route 9 to the west.

As you proceed through the aspens to a pine forest you will appreciate

the comfort of the trail that has been cushioned by mulch and pine needles - what comfort!!

You will know you are getting close to your destination (a lookout) when you cross the first of two small streams. The second stream is only about a two or three minute walk from the lookout.

Above: Looking Southwest towards Lake Dillon.

Above: Red Buffalo Pass

Past the lookout the trail ascends quickly and eventually reaches Ptarmigan Peak at an elevation of 12,500'.

If you choose to extend your hike be aware that it is about 2.4 miles from the lookout to the top with an additional elevation gain of 2,100'. At about 11,800' a trail will intersect on your right (northeast), stay straight and continue to the summit where you'll be rewarded with views of 14ers Gray's & Torrey's to the east.

Above: Trudging thru the Aspen!
Left: Looking west across route 9 - just north of Silverthorne.

The National Geographic Topo Map of "Vail, Frisco and Dillon" will be a helpful resource for this hike. Order a copy online by following the links on our site or stop at Weber's bookstore on Main St. in Breckenridge.

Above: A view from the lookout. Right: A view from the lookout.




  beginner intermediate advanced
    Black Powder Pass   Mohawk Lake   Quandary Peak  14,265'
    Lily Pad   Chihuahua Gulch   Lincoln & Bross 14,291' / 14,177'
    St. John's   Mt. Royal   Bierstadt Peak 14,060'
    Mayflower Gulch   Wheeler Lakes   Willow & Salmon Lakes
    Loveland Pass   Radical Hill Trail   Upper Crystal Lake
    Salt Lick Trail   McCullough Gulch   Gray's & Torrey's 14,278' / 14,267'
    Mesa Cortina Trail   Mt. Sniktau   Mt. Democrat 14,152'
    St. Mary's Glacier   North Ten Mile Trail   Mt. Victoria
    Sally Barber Mine   Willow Falls  

Mt. Elbert  14,433'

    Oro Grande Trail   Eaglesmere Lakes   Buffalo Mountain  12,777'
    Meadow Creek-Salt Lick   Mosquito Pass   Eccles Pass
    Shrine Mountain Trail   Webster Pass   Mt. Huron  14,003'
    Ptarmigan Trail   Ptarmigan via Wilder Gulch    
    Peaks Tr. Barton Gulch   Wheeler Lake - Park County    
    Hoosier Pass Loop   Lenawee Trail    


  Spruce Creek Loop   Nightmare on Baldy Mine    
    Tenderfoot Mountain Trail        

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Note: The Summit County Explorer website is for entertainment purposes only. SCE will not be held liable for the any accidents or injuries resulting from the activities listed on this site. Trail conditions change daily and we assume no responsibility for the safety of any individual during any of these activities. Please consult actual trail guides and maps before attempting any of the activities mentioned here.