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February 2000

Colorado’s Lizard Head Wilderness

Besides being home to a mythical reptile, Colorado's Lizard Head Wilderness is the site of some great hiking.

QUICK TAKE: Lizard Head Wilderness, CO

DRIVE TIME: About 385 miles (71/2 hours)southwest of Denver.

THE WAY: From Denver take I-70 west to Grand Junction, then head south on US 50 and US 550 to Ridgway. Go southwest on CO 62 to the junction with CO 145 at Placerville. Wind southward 30 miles on CO 145 to the Cross Mountain trailhead.

TRAILS: Thirty-seven trail miles traverse the 41,196-acre wilderness, and you can create loop options using the additional 20 miles of trails that skirt the boundaries. The 14-mile hike on the Cross Mountain and Lizard Head Trails climbs to 12,000 feet, then descends into Bilk Basin before joining the Wilson Mesa Trail. Tack together a return loop using the Silver Pick and Navajo Lake Trails.

ELEVATION: You never dip below 9,000 feet. Highest point is 14,246-foot Mt. Wilson.

CAN’T MISS: Photograph the iridescent first light on the imposing trio of Wilson Peak, Mt. Wilson, and El Diente Peak.

CROWD CONTROL: Most trail activity is in Navajo Basin. Bilk Basin and the trailless Dolores Peak area are best for solitude.

MAPS AND GUIDES:The Silverton/Ouray/

Telluride/Lake City, #141 map(Trails Illustrated;

800-962-1643; $9.95)covers the area.

PIT STOP: Carbo load at Smuggler’s Brewpub & Grill in Telluride.

WALK SOFTLY: If you make a fire in Navajo Basin, use low-impact techniques. Peakbaggers should stay on trails and avoid cutting switchbacks.

MORE INFORMATION: Mancos-Dolores Ranger District, San Juan National Forest, P.O. Box 210, Dolores, CO 81323; (970) 882-7296.

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