Ski or Snowshoe Jones Pass
Colorado › Jones Pass
Added by Amy Kesic
Enjoy stunning scenery of the Arapaho National Forest with the option to summit a 12K’ mountain. This spot is super easy to access from Denver.
Its sister trail, Butler Gulch, is an all-time favorite hike (both summer and winter), and since they share a trailhead, I knew Jones Pass would be special as well.
Jones Pass is not the type of trail I normally take, since it is actually a 4x4 road that is used for Jeeping in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. However, because it connects with a network of trails that spread all over the Arapaho National Forest (including Herman Gulch and the Continental Divide Trail via Berthoud Pass), I’ve been wanting to explore this area for a long time. Because it’s a road, the grade is not very difficult, and it’s wide and well-packed. Unless there has been a deep snowfall recently, you may not even need snowshoes; YakTrax should be sufficient.
Because the available trails are vast, the descriptions in this article include just the first three miles of the road. That is just short of summiting the 12,000+ foot mountain shown in the photos.
You’ll park at the bottom of the mountain near Henderson Mine. About a quarter-mile up, you’ll see Butler Gulch branch off to the left; keep going on the right fork. The first two miles are wooded, but the area is open enough that you will have some excellent views of the surrounding peaks. I began my trek at dawn, and by sunrise I had gained enough elevation to see a spectacular sunrise. I highly recommend this experience! Even after the sunrise, the alpenglow on the snow-capped peaks is so beautiful.
In the third mile, you’ll be more or less above tree line, and you’ll be able to see the gentle bowls that are the snowmobilers’ playground. Skiers will enjoy climbing the mountain and skiing down the bowl. When I was a there, a car was stuck in the snow at the three mile mark; I’d like to know that story! This is a great area to do some exploration, or you can continue on to summit and descend on the other side. However far you decide to go, the beauty of this area will take your breath away.
- Ski or snowshoe gear
- YakTrax or crampons
- Snowpants or gaiters
- Parka or breathable, warm layers
- Hat, gloves, scarf
- Hand and toe warmers
- Sun protection
- Warm, dry boots
- At least 1.5 liters water
- Sandwich and trail snacks
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Backpacking, Fitness, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography, Running, Skiing, Snowshoeing
Spring, Autumn, Winter
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Worth The Hike
- Get there early to avoid the crowds. We left at 5:30am and arrived at 6:30am ready to hike. By the time we got back down from the hike, the parking lot was full of vehicles. - Check the SnowTel.gov report for a good judgement of whether snowshoes are needed. - We ended up renting snowshoes just to be safe from REI for $25 a person with poles. Not a bad deal at all (must be a member for this option.) - The snow-cats take skiers up often, so the snow does become quite packed on the road. We didn't venture beyond the top, but it offered a great view. - Bring food/water for the hike. It gets steep at some parts and you'll exhaust some calories.
Added by Amy Kesic
A mom who decided to get fit a few years ago, I took up running and hiking to keep myself moving. Since moving to the Front Range foothills a year ago, I've spent my free time discovering all the trails I possibly can. I'm in love with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains; I also like to take pictures, and I share my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram at @run2themountains.Follow
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