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The Poplar Gulch Trail leads north miles from St. Elmo to South Cottonwood Creek. It traverses 2 scenic valleys and over a high saddle for views of the Sawatch Mountain Range.

The Popular Gulch Trail leads 6 miles over the mountains between St. Elmo and South Cottonwood Creek. It is an especially scenic trail with outstanding view of the Sawatch Range and its 14,000' peaks. Deer, Elk and mountain sheep may be seen from the trail. Rocky Mountain Goats also range through this area. There are primitive camping sites at either end of the trail.

This description will lead north from St. Elmo, which seems to be the most popular route. The trail begins at a trailhead on the north side of County Road 267A about .25 miles west of St. Elmo. The elevation of this trailhead is 10,100'. The trail climbs from this point as it follows Poplar Gulch. The trail follows the creek for 2.75 miles until it cuts eastward to a 12,310' saddle between 2 peaks. After crossing the saddle the trail switchbacks down some steep terrain and into the South Cottonwood Creek drainage. The trail follows Green Timber Gulch to its northern terminus.

Directions: From Buena Vista, Northern Access: Take Cottonwood Pass Road (County Road 306) west from Buena Vista. Drive approximately 7 miles to County Road 344. Follow signs for Cottonwood Lake and Cottonwood Campground. Drive past the lake and campsites to the trailhead, approximately 6 miles. Beyond the lake the road becomes rougher and more rocky. Most passenger cars can travel this road if driven slowly and carefully.

Elevation: 10,100 feet

Usage: Moderate

Difficulty: Strenuous

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Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Colorado

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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