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Ptarmigan Lake - Buena Vista, CO

Ptarmigan LakePtarmigan Lake


Location:   Buena Vista, CO

Cottonwood Pass

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Distance:  6.4 miles Round Trip

Elevation at trailhead:  10,675

Elevation gain:  1,475

Grade (Elevation/Distance):  8.7

Time:  Time Hiking (Calculated by the Garmin Oregon 450t)

             Time in:  On the move – 1:35    Resting – 1:18     Total in – 2:53

             Time out – 1:55

Why Hike Ptarmigan?  The hike getting to Ptarmigan Lake is fairly uneventful, but is well worth the effort.  Ptarmigan Lake offers some of the most beautiful fields of wildflowers in Colorado! 




Directions to the trailhead:

Go west on Main Street (CR 306) from the stoplight in downtown Buena Vista.   Turn left at the Ptarmigan Lake sign, 14.5 miles.  Follow the road for .2 miles to the trailhead.  There are toilets in the parking lot.


GPS Distances

0.0  Ptarmigan Trailhead     N38˚48.15’,  W106˚22.25’.      Pit toilets.  The trail offers a gentle climb for the first mile, taking you through pine forest.

.2    Cross a rock field.   Enjoy the wild raspberries along the trail. 

.7    Cross another rock field.

1.4   The trail intersects Forest Service Road 440.  Cross the road and pick up the trail on the other side. 

2.4   Cross a small stream, but stop to enjoy the wild flowers in the area.

2.7   There is a small lake on the right.  This is a nice place to camp, protected by pine forest.

2.8   Open meadows carpeted with wild flowers in July and August.

3.2   You have reached Ptarmigan Lake.    N38˚46.41’,  W106˚22.58’.   Elevation 12,154 feet.  Look for the Ptarmigan bird, enjoy your packed lunch, or try your hand at fishing.  From here you can hike to the top of the saddle, just to the South East of the lake.  From the saddle, you can look into the Cottonwood Lake drainage.

Ptarmigan Lake Map


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