Poplar Gulch Trail - Near St. Elmo, CO
(A Mountain Hike Toward Green Timber Gulch and South Cottonwood Canyon - June 25, 2008)
My first hike on the Poplar Gulch Trail was in 2008, and below are all of my photos.
This is a lesser-known trail in the Chaffee County / Buena Vista region that I highly recommend for mountain views,
elevation-adjustment training and the lack of crowds. The hike was approximately three miles
uphill to the top of a ridge. It does appear that a trail continues onto the other side
down Green Timber Gulch and into South Cottonwood Canyon. Study your topographical map for all details.
Directions To The Trailhead: From Nathrop, travel west on
Chaffee County Road 162 to St. Elmo.
In St. Elmo, the trailhead is approximately 0.2 miles off of
Tincup Pass Road (which leads to Tincup Pass).
If you do not have a 4-wheel drive high
clearance vehicle, park in St. Elmo and walk up the road to the trailhead.
Lastly, special thanks to Derek, Anna and Angela for coming along. We had an
enjoyable time in the mountains. :)
Photos and commentary by Steve Garufi in Buena Vista, Colorado
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|At The Top Of The Poplar Gulch Trail
A small rock pile stands at the top.
BOTTOM: To the east, a trail leads to the top of an unnamed point (alt. 13,078 feet).
We sat and relaxed at the pass, but that peak is an option if you are feeling more ambitious than we were.
||The view to the south, looking back down into the gulch we just traveled up from.
Mt. Mamma (alt. 13,634 feet) is the large peak to the left. The gulch directly to the right is Grizzly Gulch
and that small blue body of water is Grizzly Lake.
The town of St. Elmo is way back down in that canyon.
|The views to the west may have been the prettiest.
Emma Burr Mountain (elev. 13,544 feet) shows its head in the middle photo.
Thankfully, Derek and I summited that mountain later in the summer. :)
BOTTOM PHOTO: A very pretty and pointed peak to the right has a lot of
snow on its north side.
|Look At All The Snow!
TOP: Derrick walked way out there with his dog to get a closer
look at that massive snow cornice! You will probably need to click the adjacent photo to see
it at a larger size for better perspective.
BOTTOM: I also could not resist frolicking in the snow and tossed some snowballs.
There was a time when I hated the snow and
freezing cold, but I have a
changed heart and love every minute of being in the snow.
|Facing north, there is some significant descent
and a trail leading into Green Timber Gulch.
The most immediate canyon, best seen in the middle photo, leads back down toward
Travel up this very canyon and you will reach Mineral Basin, with nice views of Emma
Burr Mountain and Mt. Kruetzer. (See:
4-wheeling in South Cottonwood Canyon)
There is also a 4-wheel drive road that travels close
to Ptarmigan Lake.
A closer view of Mount Yale.
||A few wildflowers were showing their colors, including this purple one.
||The four of us at the top. :)
By the way, we began at the trailhead at 7:15 a.m. and did not see another person until we were practically back down at the parking lot at 11:30 a.m. No crowds here on this Wednesday morning!
||One picture with my cell phone as I sat at the top.
|Thinking About Dad
We all sat there at the top of the Poplar Gulch Trail for quite awhile, and Angela captured a photo
of me with some grand mountain views in the background. I dedicate
this hike to my Father.
At the time (June 2008), he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,
and he died five months later in November.
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