Webster Pass Road traces the Snake River to its headwaters at Teller Mountain
August 18, 2016
Webster Pass Road ascends to the sources of the Snake River, streams from the slopes of Sullivan Mountain (13,134 feet), Landslide Peak (13,238 feet), Red Cone (12,801 feet), Handcart Peak (12,518 feet) and Teller Mountain (12,602 feet), all found along the Continental Divide.
A loop hike beginning at Webster Pass Road and passing northeast through the Snake River watershed to the ridgeline of Teller Mountain involves an intermediate ascent of 2,300 feet across 4.75 miles, with a total distance of 9 miles and three to four hours of hiking if the loop is completed down Deer Creek Road.
From the parking area south of the intersection with Webster Pass Road, hike north a few tenths of a mile on Montezuma Road and turn east onto Webster Pass Road. After the first mile of hiking, the road exits private lands and passes through a U.S. Forest Service gate, indicating the start of U.S. Forest Service road 285.
The road continues through a beautiful green valley filled with wildflowers growing amid stands of fir and spruce. Willow thickets line the course of the Snake River as it flows south of the road. Among the wetland meadows, white globeflower, blue chiming bell mertensia, red and white paintbrush, white bistort, purple beardtongue, white lousewort, striped mountain clover, blue laurel, yellow cinquefoil and pink Parry primrose cover the slopes.
The road crosses to the south side of the Snake River about a mile and a half up the valley, at 10,900 feet. In high water, crossing this stretch involves hiking across a boot-high stream in neoprene kayak booties, or trampling through the willows to find a combination of boulders and fallen timber on which to balance and jump to stay dry.
Once it begins ascending the north face of Teller Mountain, Webster Pass Road gains elevation at a faster rate and becomes impassable for all but the most aggressive high-clearance vehicles.
Three miles into the hike, a junction splits the road. Turning left continues 2 miles to the top of Webster Pass (12,100 feet). To complete the loop, instead begin the steep ascent west on Radical Hill Road (U.S. Forest Service road 286) by turning to the right. Radical Hill Road becomes a broken and narrow path climbing to the abandoned cabin and tailings pile at the Cashier Mine site. The crumbling road continues to the ridgeline of Teller Mountain at about 12,600 feet.
Tundra flowers, including blue alpine Forget-Me-Not and the stunted yellow sunflower Old-Man-of-the-Mountain clothe the top of Teller Mountain. On a clear day, Grays Peak (14,270 feet) is visible north beyond the valley of Peru Creek. South of Teller Mountain, the plains of Park County can be seen in the distance.
With 4.75 miles and the final ascent behind you, proceed west into the Deer Creek watershed. Following Deer Creek Road north will return you to the parking area east of Glacier Mountain and north of Teller Mountain, near the meeting of Deer Creek and the Snake River.
How to get there
The drive from Frisco to the Webster Pass Trailhead beyond Montezuma is 20 miles. From Frisco, drive to Silverthorne and take U.S. Highway 6 to the east end of Keystone Resort, following the sign indicating the exit on the right to Montezuma Road. Ascend 5 miles to the town of Montezuma and proceed 1 mile to the intersection with Webster Pass Road (10,300 feet). Since there is no parking allowed at Webster Pass Road, continue another 0.3 miles to a large circular parking area where the Snake River crosses beneath Montezuma Road.
Author Kim Fenske has written extensively on hiking trails throughout Colorado. His writing includes "Greatest Hikes in Central Colorado: Summit and Eagle Counties," and "Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness," available from Amazon Kindle Books.
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