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Greenhorn Mountain Road (GMR) Downhills

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Greenhorn Mountain Road (GMR) Downhills

Four trails leave their upper trailhead at around 11,000 ft along the high-altitude Greenhorn Mountain Road (GMR) and drop 2-3,000 ft in 5-10 miles to a lower trailhead at the Lake Isabel Recreation Area. The GMR follows the crest of the Wet Mountains south toward the range's highest point, Greenhorn Mountain (12,347 Feet). The lower trailheads are scattered in and near the Lake Isabel Rec Area as follows: the Cisneros trail and the southern end of St Charles Peak trail pop out near the Spruce and Ponderosa Campgrounds at the back of the Lake. The Snowslide trail spits out at the entrance to the Rec Area, just off of Hwy 165. The north end of the St Charles Peak trail ends about 4 miles north of the Lake, at the Hwy 165 trailhead.

St. Charles Peak Trail N - GMR TH elev 10,784 Ft / High Point 11,784 Ft / Hwy 165 TH elev 9,084 Ft , ~7 mi
St. Charles Peak Trail S - GMR TH elev 10,784 Ft / High Point ~11,000 Ft / Cisneros TH elev 8,940 Ft, ~8 mi
Cisneros Trail - GMR TH elev 11,220 Ft / High Point 11,220 ft / Cisneros TH elev 8,940 Ft, ~10 mi
Snowslide Trail - GMR TH elev 11,480 Ft / High Point 11,480 Ft / Hwy 165 TH elev 8,720 Ft, ~6 mi

Lake Isabel Recreation Area ($4.00 daily entrance fee) is approximately 30 air miles southwest of Pueblo, off of Highway 165. The 35-acre reservoir is tucked into the Wet Mountains at around 9,000 feet, and is a popular summer destination for fishing, camping and hiking. Numerous trails leave the Lake and climb the surrounding mountainsides, eventually intersecting the Greenhorn Mountain Road at around 11,000 ft. Leaving a car at any of the Lake Isabel Recreation Area trailheads, you can a shuttle to the top of the trail along GMR and enjoy thousands of feet of excellent and demanding descending on steep, narrow and usually extremely rocky trail and pop out at your stashed vehicle. The trails drop through dense, moss-covered pine forests that are more akin to a PacNW landscape than the arid, high-desert plains just 15 miles to the east. There is abundant camping at established NF and Lake Isabel Recreation Area campgrounds, as well as numerous primitive camping options along the many old logging roads that branch off the GMR. The listed trails are just a small sample from the many miles of trail in this region, with some trails dropping 3,000+ feet from GMR to a lower trailhead.

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Trail Length
5-10 miles
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Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)

Review Date
August 31, 2008

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Every few months

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5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: gatzke ,  Cross Country Rider

DIRECTIONS: The main access to this area from the north is Interstate 25. From Pueblo follow I-25 south for 25 miles to Hwy 165 (exit 74 - toward Colorado City/Rye). Travel west on Hwy 165 for approximately 20 miles to the Lake Isabel Recreation Area. The nearest "town" is San Isabel, if you need to Mapquest directions.

There are four trailheads in the Lake Isabel area, three of which are located at the Recreation Area with the fourth just north on Hwy 165. Cisneros Trailhead is located within the recreation area (across from Spruce and Ponderosa Group campgrounds). The southern end of St. Charles Peak Trail links up with the Cisneros Trail within a half mile of the Cisneros TH. Parking for the northern St. Charles Peak Trailhead is located approximately 4 mi north of the entrance to Lake Isabel, on the east side of Hwy 165. Snowslide Trailhead is located at the entrance to the Lake Isabel Recreation Area, just off Hwy 165.

To reach upper trailheads (along Greenhorn Mountain Road aka FS Rd 369):
From I-25, take exit 74 toward Colorado City/Rye. Follow Hwy. 165 west for approx. 25 miles to a left (west) turn on FS Rd. 360 at the turnoff for Ophir Creek Campground, just north of Bishop's Castle. This turnoff is in the "town" of Fairview.
Travel FS Rd 360 for about 12 miles to the four-way intersection with FS Rd 634/Gardner Road (straight) and FS Rd. 369/Greenhorn Mountain Road (left). Turn left on FS Rd 369/Greenhorn Mountain Road.

St. Charles Peak TH: Take GMR a little over 2 miles to where an old logging road takes off to the east (left). Most vehicles park in the large, signed trailhead parking area before the fence/gate, as the old logging road beyond peters out after about a mile.
Cisneros TH: Travel GMR for about 9 miles to the trailhead on the left.
Snowslide TH: Take GMR a short ways past the Upper Cisneros TH to a signed left turn for the Snowslide trailhead.

Recommended Route:
Shuttle to upper trailhead along GMR, ride down to Lake Isabel. Repeat as desired. These four routes are just a sample of the many trails leave GMR to drop 2,500+ feet off the east and west sides of the range.

gatzke (09/02/2008)
From the upper St Charles trailhead, you can descend to two lower trailheads - the northern one about 4 miles north of the Lake on Hwy 165, the southern one in the Lake Isabel Rec Area at the Cisneros TH. About 1.5 miles from the upper St Charles trailhead parking on GMR, the old logging road you begin riding on peters out and the singletrack begins. Shorty after, the trail splits - go left to end up at the Hwy 165 TH, right to dump out at Lake Isabel at the Cisneros TH.

The Snowslide Trail also forks, almost at the bottom of the trail, with the left branch leading to the trailhead at the entrance to the Lake Isabel Recreation Area, and the right branch leading to Hwy 165 just south of the Lake.

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Reviews 1 - 1 (1 Reviews Total)