“A highly-technical, high-alpine trail that is rewarded with spectacular views.”
— Missy Thompson
Rocky sections across the pass as well as potential difficulty finding the actual trail.
From Mancos, head North on county road 42, which becomes Forest Road 561. Follow the signs to Transfer Camp Ground and from there to Sharkstooth trailhead. Most cars will be able to make it to Windy Gap, and 4WD vehicles can turn right on the road to Twin Lakes to drive directly to the trailhead.
The trail starts on a steep 1.6-mile ascent to Sharkstooth Pass, with many excellent views of Hesperus Mountain along the way. Sharkstooth begins with a mixture of scree and smooth singletrack, then passes through multiple switchbacks before reaching treeline. Once above treeline, the trail gets much rockier and more difficult.
The view from Sharkstooth pass is spectacular. From here you can see many of the highest peaks of the La Platas, the Sharkstooth, out West towards Cortez and even North toward Telluride. From here you'll descend the other side of the pass into the Bear Creek drainage. This descent will see you lose essentially all the altitude that you gained on the first climb and consists of steep downhill sections and some short, punchy climbs.
The first section of this descent is probably the steepest section of the trail. You'll descend a series of switchbacks before crossing a large talus field (this section of trail may contain a lot of snow earlier in the season). Following the scree field, you'll descend another steep section that takes you below treeline. From here the trail mellows out at the 2.5-mile mark. At 3.3 miles, you'll pass the junction with Bear Creek Trail. At mile 3.6, you'll reach the end of the descent from the pass.
After a short stretch of moderate climbing, the steep climbing begins once again. Trail finding in this section may be difficult, look for cairns and marked trees. After a bit of gentle grade, you'll reach another scree field at the 5-mile mark that climbs steeply to Indian Trail Ridge. From here, you'll enjoy a descent with fantastic views of La Plata Canyon
and the Columbus Basin