Tabor Pass, Lincoln Creek Road - Tabor Creek Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado
Tabor Pass - 7.9 miles
Lincoln Creek Road - Tabor Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||7.9 miles (distance may vary by route)|
|Start-End Elevation:||10,285' - 12,462' (12,462' max elevation on pass)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,177' net elevation gain (+2,492' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Tabor Pass - 7.9 Miles Round-Trip
Tabor Pass is located 3.95 miles from Lincoln Creek Road in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. The Tabor Creek Trail runs through long stretches of alpine meadow with several large tarns up to the pass. While grades are generally moderate, the trail fades considerably past 2.75 miles and route finding may be necessary in the upper valley.
Have a map and general understanding of the route before setting out. Cairns offer guidance, but are inconsistently placed and can be difficult to spot in open tundra.
Fortunately the trail tends to follow the best available terrain and most intuitive route, which greatly helps navigation. Snow cover will compound any challenges, so consider waiting until mid-summer if uncomfortable in these conditions. GPS points given here are useful, but your on-trail experience may differ slightly.
Visitors will enjoy expansive alpine landscapes, abundant flowers and great views to and from the pass. Tabor Lake and Truro Lake are accessible from the trail and pass (respectively) with good route finding skills:
The trail immediately crosses Lincoln Creek and rises steeply beside a deep gulch to aqueduct road (.3 miles : 10,590'). Cross the road and pass the Wilderness Boundary (.35 miles) to Tabor Creek (.62 miles : 10,735').
It crosses the creek, turns south and moderates across broad grassy slopes with an exceptional array of flowers (1.0 miles : 10,975'). The trail runs fast through open slopes and patchy forest before rising steeply past 2.0 miles to the edge of treeline (2.5 miles : 11,605').
It pushes past treeline on rugged, brushy terrain into a big meadow in the upper valley where the trail abruptly fades (2.75 miles : 11,790'). Note this important point for the return hike.
Follow cairns left toward the center of the valley to the first of three large tarns (2.93 miles : 11,492'). A steep wall juts into the valley past the largest tarn, which you needn't scale.
Simply follow cairns and/or best available terrain (which is fairly smooth and level) around this large feature and hook back to the east side of the upper valley once past it (3.15 miles : 11,930').
Here the upper valley tapers with a clear look at the pass. Stay high on the east valley wall and follow mild-moderate contours to a cairn at the base of the pass (3.8 miles : 12,255'). The trail clarifies and winds up through loose rock to Tabor Pass (3.95 miles : 12,462').
Views from the pass down Tabor Creek are exceptional, though somewhat confined to peaks and the immediate basin on the north side. It's easy to drop to a large tarn at the top of Galena Creek, and continue down a short distance for bigger views of the drainage.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N39 05.531 W106 38.653 — 0.0 miles : Tabor Creek Trailhead
- N39 05.308 W106 38.766 — .3 miles : Cross aqueduct road and resume steep climb
- N39 05.287 W106 38.773 — .35 miles : Collegiate Peaks Wilderness boundary
- N39 05.068 W106 38.791 — .62 miles : Cross Tabor Creek to west side
- N39 04.780 W106 38.915 — 1.0 miles : Travel moderates across big open slopes
- N39 04.407 W106 38.902 — 1.5 miles : Fast travel across grassy slopes
- N39 04.015 W106 38.933 — 2.0 miles : Travel steepens on more rugged terrain
- N39 03.613 W106 38.900 — 2.5 miles : Reach treeline on steep, rugged trail
- N39 03.421 W106 38.972 — 2.75 miles : Trail levels and fades in upper valley
- N39 03.355 W106 38.956 — 2.85 miles : Follow this cairn to first tarn
- N39 03.298 W106 38.921 — 2.93 miles : First of 3 large tarns in tapering valley
- N39 03.171 W106 38.956 — 3.15 miles : Cairn that follows contour to high east valley wall
- N39 02.929 W106 38.766 — 3.5 miles : Moderate travel high along valley wall
- N39 02.712 W106 38.697 — 3.8 miles : Cairn at base of pass
- N39 02.603 W106 38.681 — 3.95 miles : Tabor Pass (12,462')
- The Lincoln Creek ford is wide and can be difficult during peak runoff.
- Despite faint conditions between treeline and the pass, travel is generally moderate and intuitive. Finding the trail on the descent back through treeline can be challenging on the return. Note that point and refer to GPS Points #8 - 10 for guidance.
- Tabor Lake is accessible via a challenging off-trail scramble (see GPS Points #7-8).
Camping and Backpacking Information
Campgrounds and Designated Sites on Lincoln Creek Road:
Camping and campfires are only permitted at Lincoln Gulch Campground (7 sites), Portal Campground (5 sites) and in 22 designated pull-out sites along Lincoln Creek Road. Dispersed camping is not permitted along the road between these 22 sites (3 mile mark) and the Portal Campground.
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. No fees or permits are required.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals (or 25 with people + stock).
- Campfires are permitted in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Seasonal and location-specific restrictions may also apply.
- Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.
- Fishing is permitted along Tabor Creek and the Roaring Fork River with a valid Colorado fishing license. Contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife or the Aspen | Sopris Ranger Stations to learn more about potential restrictions and limits on the Roaring Fork.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
- Camping and campfires are only permitted at Lincoln Gulch Campground (7 sites) Portal Campground (5 sites) and in 22 designated pull-off sites along Lincoln Creek Road. Dispersed camping is not permitted along Lincoln Creek Road between the 3 mile mark and Portal Campground.
Directions to Trailhead
Tabor Creek Trailhead is located on Lincoln Creek Road off Highway 82, 13.7 miles east of downtown Aspen.
From Original Street in Aspen, turn east on Highway 82 toward Independence Pass and travel 9.5 miles to Lincoln Creek Road. Turn right and continue 4.2 miles to the sign marked only as 'Trailhead' on the right.
Lincoln Creek Road is a very rough road. 4WD is not necessary but high clearance is a must. 4WD is preferable. If uncomfortable driving at any point, use a pullout and walk or bike the road (it may not take much more time to walk / bike than drive).
Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611
Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670