This popular trail is named for Ben Tyler, who lived with his family in the gulch that bears his name. He operated a lumber mill during gold rush days, hauling the sawed timber over the ridge and into Fairplay.
The trail begins along Highway 285 west of Bailey, and extends in a southwest direction also on the west edge of the lost Creek Wilderness Area. Five miles from the highway the trail intersects the west end of Craig Park Trail, 608. Past this trail junction it continues over a saddle in the Kenosha Mountains, then drops down to the southern terminus of the trail near the Rock Creek Cow Camp. While the trail itself is entirely outside of the Wilderness Area you can enter the Lost Creek Wilderness Area by hiking east on the Craig Park Trail from its junction on this Ben Tyler. The trail is open to for and horse travel only, and all of the trail lies below tree line.
Major attractions include the numerous and colorful wildflowers in late spring and early summer. The trail also offers spectacular scenery of the mountain ranges to the north and the changing colors in September. Don't forget your fishing pole. Craig Creek is an excellent fishery for brook trout under seven inches in length.
This narrative covers the first five miles of the trail from Highway 285 to the Craig Park Trail junction. From the trailhead of Highway 285 the trail climbs steeply for the first .4 miles in a series of eleven switchbacks. When you return please do not cut across these switchbacks. After the last switchback the trail becomes less steep up to a stream crossing at mile 2. At this point the trail gradient becomes steeper, climbing 1,800' in the next three miles. There is a sign located 1.1 miles past the stream crossing saying "Craig Park Trail 1.9 miles." Immediately past the sign there is a short path on the right leading from the trail down to the stream and across to a small open area on the north side of the stream. This is one of the few areas along the trail suitable for camping. About 35 minutes past the sign the terrain begins to open into a high-alpine meadow with many varieties of wildflowers. Also, at this point you begin to get spectacular views of a large, continuous stand of aspen to the west and north - a glorious sight when the aspen turn color in late September. The final mile to the Craig Park Trail junction is a series of long switchbacks which, when traversing east, offer spectacular views down Ben Tyler Gulch. The Craig park Trail junction at mile 5 is marked by a sign indicating Craig Park to the left (east) and Rock Creek to the right (west). At this junction you have three options. If you turn left (east) you will enter the Lost Creek Wilderness Area on the Craig Park Trail. The trail continues in a southeasterly direction for 5.8 miles at which point it intersects the Brookside Trail. The second option would be to bear right (west) at the junction and continue on the Ben Tyler Trail up to the saddle (about 700 feet of additional elevation) and down to the Rock Creek Cow Camp trailhead, a distance of 4 miles. As the third option, you can return to the Highway 285 trailhead the way you came. Based on a moderate pace of 2 miles/hour plus periodic rests you will need to allow 2.5 - 3 hours to reach the Craig Park Trail junction at mile 5.
Directions: From Kenosha Pass, Approximately 2.5 miles west of Kenosha Pass on Highway 285 turn east on the Lost Park Road, which is designated Forest Road 127. Travel about 7 miles and turn left (north) on Forest Road 133 - the Rock Creek Road. Drive almost to the end of the road. Where the road forks stay to the left. The road continues to Rock Creek, but the final portion is rough and with little room to turn around. It is recommended that you park above and walk down to the stream. The trail begins on the west side of Rock Creek.
Elevation: 8,270 feet
Ending Elevation: 9,720 feet
Elevation Gain: 3,370 feet
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Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Colorado
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