[Cdt-l] Trail conditions - Stony Pass to Monarch Pass

Benjamin Mayberry benmayberry at gmail.com
Fri Jun 10 20:51:24 CDT 2011

After hiking through Arizona, Utah and Western Colorado, I reached the CDT
at Stony Pass on June 5th. I just completed the section from Stony Pass to
Monarch Pass and thought I'd report on the conditions for any NOBO's that
are about to enter that area.

-Stony Pass to Cataract Lake - Ley CO37 & 36: lots of snow but there is bare
ground in places as well. The route through this area is very well cairned
and easy to follow. A backcountry ranger in Silverton warned me about
avalanche danger in the Canby Mountain area. If you reach it later in the
day, maybe consider a lower-elevation route.

-Lost Trail Creek drainage below Carson Peak - Ley CO36: almost totally snow
free until you climb back up to the divide to the east of Carson Peak.

-Divide east of Carson Peak to west side of Jarosa Mesa - Ley CO36 & 35:
snow on and off but overall pretty good. There is a forested hillside just
before the #2 note on CO36 that is still completely covered in snow.

-Jarosa Mesa - Ley CO35: the higher parts are covered in mushy, slushy,
easy-to-walk-through snow. Everything is wet. Once you start to drop down to
Spring Creek Pass, it becomes completely melted out.

-Spring Creek Pass to east side of Snow Mesa - Ley CO35 & 34: no snow until
you reach Snow Mesa. Snow Mesa is mostly clear but the drainages not only
have snow but also rivers of water-saturated snow (consistency of a slushee)
that are not difficult to cross, just really, really cold.

-East side of Snow Mesa to pass just below San Luis Peak - Ley CO34 & 33:
snow off and on, not as much as you might expect considering that most of
this section is on the N side of the divide.

-Pass just below San Luis Peak to Razor Creek Park - Ley CO33 through 30: no
snow! Other than a little bit at either end of this section (i.e. descending
from the pass, climbing out of Razor Creek Park).

-Cochetopa Hills & Sargents Mesa - Ley CO30 & 29: some small patches of snow
but the trail corridor is fairly obvious. Generally snow free.

-Windy Peak to Monarch Pass - Ley CO28 & 27: lots of snow but there are
breaks. The trail is generally easy to follow. Once you get to the N of
Marshall Pass, you can avoid a lot of the snow by staying on the divide
rather than the trail. You'll do some extra elevation gain/loss but it beats

I hiked this section with the Ley maps, a pair of snowshoes, and a set of
microspikes. The maps were all I needed for navigation, the snowshoes spent
a relatively small amount of time actually strapped to my feet but were
invaluable when I actually used them, and the microspikes helped a lot with
traversing some of the slopes in the morning while the snow was still

Hope this helps. I'm leaving from Monarch Pass tomorrow but taking the
Colorado Trail (lower elevation than the CDT) to Twin Lakes, then taking the
CDT from there to Frisco. I'll post the trail conditions for Twin Lakes to
Frisco after I've done it.

Ben Mayberry
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