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Lizard Head

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

9.6 mile 15.4 kilometer point to point
74% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,482' 756 m
Descent: -2,726' -831 m
High: 12,094' 3,686 m
Low: 10,029' 3,057 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 30% (16°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Trail shared by Zander Göpfert

A breathtaking loop up to the high alpine meadows at the base of Lizard Head Peak.

Zander Göpfert

Features Fall Colors · Spring · Views · Wildflowers

Overview

This loop heads through healthy stands of aspen, thick evergreen forest, intermittent fields of tall grasses and wildflowers, and high alpine meadows. An amazing day run that starts in San Juan National Forest and circles through the Lizard Head Wilderness without requiring an overnight stay or a pre-dawn start time.

Runner Notes

A terrific loop with some serious climbs to rewarding views.

Description

As a loop run, this route requires a shuttle car to be left at the Cross Mountain Trail #637 trailhead, otherwise, you'll need to head back up to the Lizard Head Trail #505 trailhead parking area, which is at least two miles back up the San Juan Skyway.

From the Lizard Head Trail #505 trailhead parking, head northeast through the tall grasses and wildflowers before ducking into stands of wide aspens and pine. After 1.5 miles, the trail turns to the left, beginning the first of two switchback ascents that gain around 1,000' of elevation.

This uphill slog is demanding but well worth the effort. At the end of the switchbacks, the trees begin to thin and the views begin to open up.

Continue along the trail as it traverses the ridge of Black Face before descending through a slightly washed out section that heads briefly back into the evergreen forest. From this lower meadow, begin the second and final big climb heading directly up towards the prominent Lizard Head Peak. The trail will fly by as the views of the surrounding peaks, walls, and valleys are so beautifully distracting.

Traverse across the slope below Lizard Head Peak to the intersection with the Cross Mountain Trail #637. This area makes for a great lunch break or spot to take pictures and enjoy the views. From the intersection, head left onto the Cross Mountain Trail #637.

This trail traverses along the contours below a ridgeline on dark volcanic soil. This descent is a lovely reprieve from the climbing of the first half of the run. The trail then ducks into thick, evergreen forest with lots of shade and cool, trickling water.

Continue out of the Lizard Head Wilderness into San Juan National Forest and the Cross Mountain Trail #637 trailhead parking area.

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Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, History & Background

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Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 3 votes

#2615

Overall
  4.3 from 3 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
67%
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Run Rankings

#357

in Colorado

#2,615

Overall
19 Views Last Month
2,177 Since Jul 5, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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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
Nearing the end of the densely wooded section of Cross Mountain Trail #637, looking across to Grizzly Peak.
Jul 26, 2016 near Rico, CO

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