Ptarmigan Peak, Ptarmigan Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Ptarmigan Peak - 12.0 miles

Ptarmigan Trailhead

Aspen stands on the Ptarmigan Trail

Aspen stands on the Ptarmigan Trail

Round-Trip Length: 12.0 miles
Start-End Elevation: 9,155' - 12,498' (12,498' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +3,343' net elevation gain (+3,710' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Ptarmigan Peak - 12.0 Miles Round-Trip

Ptarmigan Peak (12,498') straddles the Summit County - Grand County line in the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness near Silverthorne CO. This strenuous trail climbs over 3300' in 6 miles to a broad, flat summit with panoramic views across the Williams Fork, Gore and Ten Mile ranges. Visible peaks include Buffalo Mountain, Red Peak, Grays Peak, Torreys Peak and Longs Peak.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail heads north from the parking lot to a private road @ .1 miles. Turn left and walk 100 yards up the road to a sign for the Ptarmigan Trail pointing right.

The Ptarmigan Trail crosses a sagebrush hillside to a Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Information Board (.7 miles : 9,617'); note the official boundary is still 3.7 miles and 1890' up from this point.

It drops under power lines (1.0 miles : 9,560') and rises across two small streams into a dense aspen forest for the next mile. The trail briefly opens with views of Buffalo Mountain and Red Peak before re-entering timber to the Angler Trail junction (2.0 miles : 9,868').

The trail continues north on a steady climb through 10,000' as aspen cede to spruce and fir. Grades steepen through 3.0 miles (10,425') on a northwest bend toward the summit. It crosses 11,000' (3.75 miles) and reaches treeline at the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Boundary (4.4 miles : 11,500').

The trail heads northwest across open tundra with exceptional views to the Ptarmigan Pass split (4.9 miles : 11,888'). Keep straight to the Ute Peak Trail - Ptarmigan Trail split (6.0 miles), and follow signs .1 mile up to the Ptarmigan Peak summit (6.1 miles : 12,498').

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Worth Noting

  • Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness is adjacent to the Eagles Nest Wilderness, but just 1/6 its size (13,175 vs. 82,484 acres). Elevations in the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness range 9,127' - 12,757'.

  • The last 1 - 2 miles of the Ptarmigan Trail are above treeline. Anticipate varied weather conditions and get below treeline before storms develop. The summit approach is relatively rock-free compared to others in the area.

  • Past the turn off to the Ptarmigan Peak summit, the Ptarmigan Trail becomes the Ute Peak Trail which continues north along the spine of the Williams Fork Mountain Range. There are very few trails that enter the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness - but all of them connect with the Ute Peak Trail.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Dispersed camping is allowed but is prohibited within 100' of all lakes, rivers and streams.

  • Camping in groups of more than 15 people is prohibited.

  • Building and using a campfire within a quarter mile of all lakes is prohibited, it is also prohibited to build a fire within 100' of all lakes, rivers and streams. Fires are also not allowed in alpine areas including alpine meadows, krumholtz and riparian areas.

  • Equestrian camping - no hay or straw allowed. Only pelletized feed and rolled grain may be used. Violations will result in a fine.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is allowed with a valid Colorado fishing license.

  • Bury fish guts in latrine holes. Do not leave along lake and stream beds.

Rules and Regulations

  • Mountain biking is allowed only up to the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness boundary, past which it is prohibited.

  • Dogs must be leashed in the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness or face stiff fines.

  • Motor vehicles of any kind are strictly prohibited.

  • contact the Dillon Ranger District for special use permits such as outfitting, commercial filming, recreational events, firewood cutting and hazardous tree removal.

Directions to Trailhead

From I-70 take Exit 205 (Silverthorne / Dillon) and turn right at the light. Travel for .2 miles and turn right onto Rainbow Drive (Wendy's is on the corner). Shortly thereafter turn right onto Tanglewood Lane and follow to Ptarmigan Trail Road. Turn right onto Ptarmigan Road and drive .8 miles to the parking area on your right. The trail leaves across the street from the parking lot.

Contact Information

Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
M - F from 8am - 4pm

White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602

Trip Reports

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