Oh, it’s 73 degrees and sunny outside? The trails in the foothills are open and dry? And you’re about to ditch your snowshoes and skis for trail runners and shorts? Well, hold up on that idea. There’s still snow up at the top of Cameron Pass to enjoy before melt off. In fact with SNOTEL reports today, there’s still 47 inches at the Long Draw station (not much is below that – Big South is half melted already). Melt off is going to start happening fast, so get up there while you can.
At this point in my outdoor adventure life, I feel like I’ve snowshoed the majority of trails in our Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. Or at least the high elevation ones, anyway. I’ve always skipped Joe Wright Trail simply because it was so short and I’m often up there for a full day adventure.
Well, except for last weekend. Sleeping in felt great. The bed was so comfortable. A pajama day next to the fireplace on a cold and rainy Sunday sounded perfect. But, my husband knows that I need mountain time just as much as I need coffee in my life, so he suggested I get up there. Hint taken.
By this time after gathering gear and lazing about, it was after 12:00 and with a 2 hour drive, I’d be getting up to the pass fairly late. It was too late for long mileage and definitely too late for anything near tree line, as wet avalanche conditions have increased as snow melts off the slopes.
Time for something short and sweet, yet still fun and beautiful – Joe Wright Trail is the perfect fit!
Joe Wright Trail is right across the street from Joe Wright Reservoir. Park your car in the lot, grab your gear and take a short walk down Highway 14. You’ll see the large trail sign and have to climb the steep snowdrift to get to it (much like Sawmill Creek trail).
Joe Wright Trail is a great option to consider if you’re brand new to Colorado and snowshoeing or cross country skiing. The trail is relatively flat as it wraps around in a figure-eight through the forest. It’s labeled a light-traffic trail, which I find hard to believe, but I did have the whole trail to myself and I was breaking trail.
I found it to be an easy trail to follow, and probably one of the better marked trails in all of Cameron Pass. At times the plethora of blue diamonds reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, but it honestly wasn’t confusing. While it’s smart to have navigation skills, I don’t think you’ll have to use them on this trail.
The figure-eight milage is .6 for the east loop, and 1 mile for the west loop. This gives you plenty of time to explore, hang out in the trees, or knock out another easy trail like Zimmerman Lake. The mileage was just the right amount for me this weekend – enough to get some mountain time, get some fresh air in the lungs, and work through the soft fresh power that had just dropped in the canyon, hanging heavy on the trees. It was great and it’s worth checking out!
Total Length: 1.6 mile figure-eight loop
Beginning Elevation: 10,000 ft.
Peak Elevation: 10,110 ft.