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This popular hiking trail provides access into the heart of the southern half of the Mt. Evans Wilderness Area. The trailhead is along Geneva Creek Road and its terminus is the junction with the Rosalie Trail. The 6.5 mile hike is rated as moderately difficult due to its length and elevation gain. The trail offers spectacular high mountain scenery and vistas. The last mile of the trail is above tree line. Allow 3.5-4 hours to reach the junction with Rosalie Trail walking a moderate and steady pace. Because of its location in a designated wilderness area mountain bikes and other motorized/mechanized vehicles are prohibited.

The Three Mile Creek Trail is not shown on the Mt. Evans topographic quad map, so this narrative is written with specific reference to marker points on the quad map to help locate your position on the trail. The first 3 miles of the trail follow Three Mile Creek in a northeasterly direction. The stream and trail are in a narrow canyon with the trail crossing the stream at a dozen or so log bridges. At approximately mile 3 (l.5 hours of walking from the trailhead), you come upon a small open meadow with a rock cairn and signpost saying "Trail". The stream crossing immediately before entering the meadow will be the last water source for the remainder of the trail. From the meadow signpost bear right (easterly direction) into a grove of aspen. In about 15-20 minutes you will reach another "Trail" signpost.

From this point the trail rises steeply in a series of switchbacks moving up the southwest flank of Peak 12,574. This section is quite steep and will take about 25-30 minutes to climb. As you ascend these switchbacks look behind you from time to time for dramatic views to the southwest of Kenosha Pass, South Park and the mountains west and south of Fairplay. At the top of the switchbacks the trail begins heading northwest and then north around the west flanks of Peak 12,574. You will still be in trees and gaining elevation, but at a much lower rate than the steep switchbacks. After about 20 minutes of hiking, from the last switchback, you will emerge from the trees on the northwest flank of Peak 12,574. As you emerge into open tundra you will note the following landmarks: Kataka Mountain will be on your left (west), Mt Evans and Mt Bierstadt will be ahead of you and slightly to the left (north/northwest), and below you is a bowl-shaped depression that opens downward to your left. You will also be at the highest point on the trail. From this point you need to get to the opposite side of the bowl (on a line looking toward Mt Bierstadt). If you proceed directly across the depression you will be in an interminable willow bog. For this reason, the trail has been routed to stay out of the bog by traversing the east and north ridges of the depression. Look for large rock cairns placed in the willows and on the tundra. When you reach the northwest edge of the depression (the grassy tundra is almost flat here) the trail drops for the final 1/3 mile to the Rosalie Trail junction. At the trail junction pause to look to the east into Deer Creek Valley. This is the general direction the Rosalie Trail follows to its trailhead near Deer Creek Campground (a distance of approximately 6 miles). If you follow Rosalie Trail to the west it intersects the Abyss Lake Trail in 2 miles and terminates at Guanella Pass after an additional 4 miles of hiking. If you plan to return to the Three Mile Creek Trailhead follow the same route you used coming up to the junction.

Directions: From Bailey, Drive west 10.8 miles from Bailey on Highway 285 to Grant. Turn right (north) on Park County Road 62 (sometimes called the Guanella Pass Road). Drive 2.8 miles to the trailhead on the right (east) side of the road. There is a limited amount of parking at the trailhead.

Elevation: 8,980 feet

Ending Elevation: 11,640 feet

Elevation Gain: 2,840 feet

Usage: Moderate to Heavy

Difficulty: Moderate

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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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