• Activities:

    Backpacking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    25 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    7202 Feet

Dog Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Swimming Hole

Amazing Views. Multi-night Backpacking. Fire Pits and Swimming. Aspens and Wildflowers. Dog Friendly. Fishing. Make sure to read up on your Leave No Trace Ethics before you go. We want to keep this wilderness the beautiful way it is!

The total distance of the loop is a little under 25 miles and you will climb a total of 7202 feet. It can be done as a 3 day backpacking trip as shown below.

The Loop

Day 1:
After Parking in the trail head's parking lot, which fills up quickly on weekends, start down the trail after signing your permit.

You will cross the creek and reach the Hankins Pass and Goose Creek trail split. I did the loop counter clockwise. The uphill is more gradual.

After turning east on to Goose Creek trail, you will follow the river with a easy up and down gaining a total of 540 feet over 4 miles. The terrain will take you through pine forest and gravel trails. After reaching Shaft House Grave I found a nice camp by a small stream due east of the sign.

You can pass by or take a short hike to see the old shaft house left from an abandoned damming project.

Day 2:
The next morning you can head up north on the Goose Creek Trail passing a lot of good camping options including refrigerator gulch if you want to split this long day up. You will hit a trail junction for McCurdy Park Trail head west down towards refrigerator gulch. There will be a river crossing on a single log. Lost Creek can be high. Take precautions and be conscious about taking your dog across. The creek is more like a river and too swift for them to swim due to the heavy Colorado rain this year. After crossing there will be a trail to the east make sure to take the western trail.

You will begin to head west and gain a lot of elevation crossing the different creeks until you reach a long set of switch backs.

The last section of the trail to McCurdy park is brutally uphill and unending as it gradually climbs to this beautiful park.

I would suggest camping here and enjoying the open space. Since I hiked this in one day it was 10.3 miles and 2060 feet total of elevation gain with a lot of up and down.

Day 3:
The next day I headed out early. This was another long day that could be split up. There are plenty of campsites along the way. Fill up early this day, water sources are more scarce than the day before. The first trail junction is right after you leave McCurdy Park Passing a trail to the west. Our trail will climb a bit to another junction.

Take the Lake Park trail which offers a brutal climb and an amazing view: the highest you will be on the trip. After topping out above Lake Park the rest of the loop is downhill. You will drop into Lake Park and then drop down to Hankins Pass.

Another trail junction where Lake Park trail intersects with the Brookside Trail is at the pass. You will head East loosing almost all elevation gained to complete the loop. This last section of trail follows the creek and crosses it numerous times. You will hit the first junction you started at and head back up the hill to Trail Head 612 and your parked car. This day was another 10 mile day loosing 2760 feet in elevation, but with most of it being downhill it was not hard just long.

If you want to split it up there are nice camp spots at Hankins Pass and Lake Park. Note this is bear country so bring bear spray, bells, and use bear hangs for your food.

Happy Trails!

To the trail head:

  • Take US-24 West
  • Turn right onto Tarryall Rd (7.0 mi)
  • Turn right onto Matukat Rd (1.1 mi)
  • Continue onto Co Rd 211/Matukat Rd (10.4 mi)
  • Turn left onto Goose Creek Trailhead Rd (1.1 mi)

Pack List

Fishing Gear & Normal summer backpacking gear including:

  • Water Treatment
  • Rain Jacket and Pants
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Deet 100%
  • Bear Spray
  • Small First Aid Kit
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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LJ Dawson

Aspiring writer, I am probably in the rocky mountains or in the red rock deserts. Good days are spent in the sun and good nights are spent under the stars.Trying to make every day an adventure. Missoula living and Colorado grown.

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