Powerhorn Wilderness Trails
On the northern fringe of the San Juan Mountains, the Cannibal and Calf Creek plateaus create a seemingly endless, undulating plain of tundra, broken only by several steep escarpments bejeweled by Powderhorn and other lakes. Local researchers at Western State College in Gunnison call these plateaus the largest continuous extent of tundra in the lower 48 states, a claim that is easy to believe as you stride across their limitless expanse. Few other areas in Colorado give rise to an equivalent sense of vastness, for the 12,000-foot plateaus afford panoramic views of the San Juan, Elk, and Sawatch ranges and their numerous fourteeners. Lava and ash thousands of feet thick underlie these high plateaus. Glaciation chiseled abrupt cirques and scoured depressions now filled with water, proven attractions for generations of anglers. Though located on the northern flank of the usually wet San Juan Mountains, the lower elevations of the Gunnison Basin receive modest precipitation and, as a result, sagebrush meadows characterize the wilderness here. Widely separated ponderosa pines intermingle with the sagebrush, and wetter pockets support groves of aspen. Moving higher onto the plateaus, precipitation increases markedly and fills the abundant lakes and beaver ponds of long, shallow, willow-packed valleys. Elk and mule deer find this habitat to their liking, and several hundred of both roam the area. This trail guide includes descriptions of Powderhorn Lakes, Devils Lake, and Calf Creek Plateau.
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Directions to: Powerhorn Wilderness Trailsprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Nearby City||Lake City|
|Skill Level||Easy to Moderate|
|Season||Best Spring through Fall|
|Trailhead Elevation||8,600 ft|
|Top Elevation||12,600 ft|
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