Calico Trail

Written by Raymond Hamilton.

Elevation Difficulty Recommended Use Distance Season
8,000 feet Difficult
13.5 Miles Summer - Fall

Driving Directions:

From Highway 145, The primary access is located near the north end of Priest Gulch Trailhead, located off Colorado State Highway 145, 12.0 miles south of Rico and 10.0 miles north of Stoner.There is another trailhead on Forest Road 471, off Dunton Road 535

Hiking Directions:

This trail was cut out in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. Up to 100 men worked on widening the trail, so it could be used to drive stock into the high country. Today this trail receives light use yet provides some of the best scenic views of the surrounding mountains. The trailhead on Forest Road 471 has parking areas, hitching posts, and restrooms. The Calico Trail is a great place for day use or an extended trail experience. The Calico Trailhead begins in an area of vast mountain meadows interspersed with woods of Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir. To the north rises 14,000 foot high El Diente, which is within the Lizard Head Wilderness. The trail then moves south through wet, lush meadows and moves into a forest of spruce and fir as it follows the divide between Dolores and West Dolores Rivers, climbing at an average grade of 8 percent to 11,866 foot high Papoose Peak. At this point, the trail has risen above timberline and into a subalpine ecosystem. At the headwaters of the East Fork of Fall Creek, the Calico Trail drops in elevation and returns into the spruce-fir forest. The Calico Trail continues south to Priest Gulch Trailhead on Highway 145. Other trails along Highway 145 also provide access to various points along the trail--Section House, Tenderfoot, Burnett, and Horse Creek are a few. Johnny Bull and the West Fork Fall Creek trails can be used as well.

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