Big Loop (37 miles): Starts at the Goose Creek Trailhead. Travel west on the Hankins Pass Trail. Head north on the Lake Park Trail and again on the Brookside-McCurdy Trail. Stay on this trail all the way to Lost Park. Then head east on the Wigwam trail. Then turn south onto the Goose Creek Trail. Stay on that trail until you reach the Goose Creek Trailhead. 37 miles.
Small Loop (23 miles): From the Goose Creek trailhead, go down the hill and cross the creek to the start of the loop. Start your timer at the junction. Head left up the Hankins Pass Trail. At the pass, turn right on the Lake Park trail and continue climbing up and over a high point, dropping down to the Brookside McCurdy Trail. Head right (north) through more open terrain until a long switchback downhill to the actual Lost Creek. Stay right on the McCurdy Trail to go up some short punchy climbs until you reach the wide Goose Creek trail. Head right and go 6 miles of net downhill on wide easy trail back to the start of the loop. You could start this loop from other trailheads. The Goose Creek trailhead is the closest access. The counter clockwise direction is the faster of the two due to the fast and easy downhill on Goose Creek. Note that the Strava segment for this loop leaves out some of the out & back bit from the TH. The FKT is TH-TH!
FOMELC Loop (85 miles): Posted by Wyatt Stanland.
The LCW is a place where expansive summit views and alpine tundra stands in contrast to rock spires, bubbles, and domes, which are best appreciated intimately. This Wilderness is lightly trafficked and if you spend any time out there, you will find profound solitude and quiet. There is no better way to appreciate such a landscape than to move through the entirety of it in one push.
This route turned out to be around 85-90 miles* with almost 16k feet of climbing. I chose to do it in multiple days and bring my Silky saw to do some trail work on the way, as well as practicing fast and light backpacking. You can start at any trail head on this loop, the FKT is TH-TH. Some trail heads are directly on trail and some require an out and back from the car to the loop. The CCW loop is: run up the Brookside-McCurdy Trail, go north west on the Craig Park Trail, go south west on the Ben Tyler Trail, go south east on the Colorado Trail until you get to the North Fork Trailhead. Cross the creek to the south and pick up the Brookside-McCurdy trail going south to Lost Park Campground and trail head. Use the bathroom here and pick up the Brookside-McCurdy trail in the trail head parking lot going south. At the junction with Ute Creek Trail, take a left to stay on Brookside-McCurdy as it climbs east between Bison and McCurdy Mountains. At the junction with McCurdy Park Trail, take a right to continue south on Brookside-McCurdy. Then take a left on the Lake Park Trail and follow it until it ends at the Hankins Pass Trail. Take a left on the Hankins Pass Trail east, then a left on the Goose Creek Trail north and follow this until it ends at the Wigwam Trail. Take a left on the Wigwam Trail, then a right onto the steep and brutal Rolling Creek Trail and follow this north until it ends at the Colorado Trail/Rolling Creek Trailhead. Continue onto the Colorado Trail, then take a right onto the Payne Creek Trail and follow this until it meets the Brookside-McCurdy Trail and, if this is the trail head where you started, take a right on Brookside-McCurdy to go back to the car.
I also want to use this route to raise awareness for the Friends of Mount Evans and Lost Creek Wildernesses (FOMELC), a group I have volunteered with for the past few years. FOMELC is a dedicated group of Wilderness stewards who maintain trails, manage invasive weeds, and perform vital public outreach both on trail and in nearby mountain communities. Sign up for the FOMELC newsletter for information on the invasive weed program, upcoming trail work days and meetings, history of the Wilderness areas, and information on skills trainings (https://fomelc.org/newsletter-1). Reach out to us for information on volunteer opportunities (https://fomelc.org/volunteer), we would love to see you on trail! In addition, please consider donating to protect these two special Wilderness areas (https://fomelc.org/donate).
* Depending on which trailhead you start from. I chose the Brookside/Payne Creek trail. Even though it adds 3.4 miles to the route, it’s a shorter drive and my trail volunteer group has been working Payne Creek this year so I wanted to scout the last bit to see if it needs any work. A better trail head would be either Goose Creek, Colorado Trail/Rolling Creek, Lost Park, or Long Gulch.
I'm not sure if people are still supposed to announce they are making an attempt like on the old site, but Amanda Morgenstern and I will be making an unsupported run of the 37-mile loop. We have fastpacked it before from a different TH (Twin Eagles) which added a number of miles. Unless there is a significant change in weather we will be doing our run on 6/9.
*Salynda Heinl was actually unsupported, I must have made and error entering. Wonderful loop, would love to go back! Very diverse and great running!
By the same logic, wouldn't a group or pair doing a route together technically be supported? I just did this route truly unsupported, totally alone from beginning to end, and this is a really different experience than running it with someone.
FOMELC Loop: Thanks to Wyatt Stanland for posting this excellent route! It truly is a comprehensive tour of the LCW. Wife (Stephanie Ehret) & I backpacked it over July 16-18, 2021. For lifelong Coloradoans we had surprisingly little experience in the LCW, but needed a quick get-away and the TH is just 60 miles from our home in Boulder. It was better than expected - mostly excellent trails, and very scenic and varied terrain and super wildflowers. We started at the same Payne Creek / Brookside TH as Wyatt, and hiked CCW. Stopped for the first night at Long Gulch, which isn't great camping. Would have been better to walk a couple more miles along the CT, but we were not sure about water (Turns out there was plenty everywhere - we could have done the entire route just with our 1L Be-Free filters, but sometimes carried more because we were not sure. Likely some of the small side streams will dry up over the coming weeks.) Second night in lower Hankins Creek. We had some weather coming over the Tarryall Mtns but the lightning seemed to be cloud-to-cloud, so it was okay, just wet and cold. Also spectacular! We had been planning 4 days for the loop, but to here the trails were all excellent and we were making better time than we thought, so figured we would just cruise it on in. Rolling Creek Trail (up and down) turned out to be the toughest section of the entire loop - just very steep both on both sides of the pass. The final day was hot, but again there was plenty of water, and usually a decent amount of shade. Oh, a word about bugs: Bugs (mosquitos) were generally not too bothersome except in the evening and in wetter areas at other times. Stephanie is extremely averse to bugs, which seem to especially love her, and she was frequently bothered by them even during short stops when I didn't notice them. I suppose earlier in the summer the mosquitos are worse. We got back to our car at 2d11h44m, so I guess that would stand as the female FKT for her, except that we weren't going for an FKT and didn't document it. Anyway, someone will run this in a much faster time.