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


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Map Key

11.9

Miles

19.1

KM

79%

Runnable

12,090' 3,685 m

High

10,055' 3,065 m

Low

2,709' 826 m

Up

2,714' 827 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

28%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Unknown

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.

Need to Know

Restrooms and garbage bins located at the Lizard Head TH.

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. As others have noted, you can take the utility road that runs parallel to the San Juan Skyway to avoid hitchhiking, shuttling, or walking along the paved road.

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 look for the utility road heading left (northeast) before the Cross Mountain Trail #637 trailhead parking area to head back to the Lizard Head TH.

Contacts

Shared By:

Zander Göpfert

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 7 votes

#7

in Silverton

#2380

Overall
  4.6 from 7 votes
5 Star
57%
4 Star
43%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#7

in Silverton

#356

in Colorado

#2,380

Overall
4 Views Last Month
3,573 Since Jul 5, 2016
Difficult Difficult

0%
0%
0%
33%
67%
0%

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
Meadow-y ridgewalking heading west.
Oct 31, 2023 near Mountai…, CO
Heading towards Lizard Head.
Oct 31, 2023 near Mountai…, CO

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