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Lizard Head Trail #505

Difficult
 4.0 (2)

An aerobic climb through aspen and evergreen to the alpine meadows below Lizard Head Peak.


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Map Key

12.2

Miles

19.7

KM

77%

Runnable

12,094' 3,686 m

High

9,338' 2,846 m

Low

2,584' 788 m

Up

3,521' 1,073 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

28%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Fall Colors · Spring · Views · Wildflowers

Runner Notes

This would make for a long, fulfilling day as a point-to-point with serious vert and views to match!

Description

Access this trail off of the San Juan Skyway (145) at Lizard Head Pass rest area and interpretive site. There is a large parking area here and a restroom. The trailhead is at the northeast corner of the parking lot with paper trail maps of the area. There is also an upper parking lot past the restrooms with another trailhead sign by the Lizard Head Trail Connector.

The first section of the trail heads through a meadow and into pine and aspen as it meanders with slight variation in the elevation. This is a beautiful, wooded area that stretches for a mile and a half, heading northeast.

Almost exactly after 1.5 miles, the trail bends to the west and begins its ascent up a series of switchbacks to a brief clearing. Without pause, there are a few more switchbacks to climb as the trail heads up toward Black Face Ridge. All in all, this ascent is around 1,800' in less than 2.5 miles, but is the only real section of drawn-out climbing.

After three miles, the trail emerges along the ridge with a view that will take away whatever breath you have left from the climb. From Black Face Ridge, the trail dives back down into small band of pine forest before coming out into a meadow that can be fairly wet depending on the time of year. The trail can be hard to spot in this area but the objective is obvious to the northwest, and the trail should be easy to spot on the other side of the grass as it starts back onto dry rock and earth.

Continue along this ascent toward Lizard Head with amazing views all around as the trail traverses below the formation along the somewhat-steep contours that can be loose in spots. At just over six miles, the trail intersects with the Cross Mountain Trail #637 and continues heading northwest into Bilk Creek Basin among a series of peaks (Cross Mountain, Mount Wilson, Gladstone Peak, Wilson Peak, and Sunshine Mountain).

Through the basin, the trail begins to descend gradually, crossing Bilk Creek, on dark, volcanic soil. The ridge line to the north that the trail bends around and then descends from with a series of switchbacks leads west to Wilson Peak. Look due east from these switchbacks at Sunshine Mountain (12,931'). From here, the trail continues along the valley floor through Magpie Gulch until it ends at the Wilson Mesa Trail (#421).

Contacts

Shared By:

Zander Göpfert

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#11520

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#1,043

in Colorado

#11,520

Overall
4 Views Last Month
3,007 Since Jul 5, 2016
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Photos

Looking across the valley to Mt. Wilson, El Diente, and Wilson Peak from Cross Mountain Trail #637.
Jul 26, 2016 near Mountai…, CO
Beginning the ascent toward Lizard Head from the southwest and Black Face Ridge.
Jul 26, 2016 near Mountai…, CO
Wildflowers on the Lizard Head Trail #505 traverse towards Lizard Head.
Jul 26, 2016 near Mountai…, CO
Wildflowers along Black Face ridge with Lizard Head looming in the background.
Jul 26, 2016 near Mountai…, CO
Cross Mountain Trail #637 heading further north toward Wilson Peak from the intersection with Lizard Head Trail #505.
Jul 26, 2016 near Mountai…, CO
Lizard Head Peak.
Apr 30, 2015 near Mountai…, CO

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Jul 4, 2019
John Callen