Silverthorne, CO: Ptarmigan Peak

This 11.8-mile dayhike links quiet forests and wildflower-filled meadows to a broad mountaintop overlooking Lake Dillon.

The Ptarmigan Peak Trail starts above Silverthorne and climbs steadily along grassy hills dotted with intermittent aspen groves. Unobstructed views of Lake Dillon and the Tenmile Range stretch out to the south and southwest until the trail enters the forest at mile 0.6.

From here, the path winds past trickling brooks, vibrant wildflower displays, and fragrant pines—look west for views of the Gore Range between gaps in the trees. After four miles, the trail passes above treeline and ascends an expansive ridge with bird’s-eye views across Summit County.

Leave the trail at mile 5.7, and follow a string of cairns along a 300-yard non-technical approach to Ptarmigan’s broad summit. Savor the far-reaching vistas before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.

-Mapped by Kim Phillips

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 19.0



Location: 39.635151, -106.053497

Follow Ptarmigan Peak Trail to the north. In 500 feet, turn left and follow paved County Road J for steep uphill stretch.


Location: 39.637619, -106.053497

Bear right onto narrow dirt path cut through stubby bushes and shrubs. In 100 yards, trail curves to the right, heading east.


Location: 39.638931, -106.052696

Turn around for far-reaching views of Lake Dillon stretching out beneath the rugged Tenmile Range. Next, continue north up grassy hillsides.


Location: 39.642899, -106.052902

Trail gently descends between aspen groves on slightly rocky trail.


Location: 39.650269, -106.053497

Clearing in aspens reveals up-close views of the snow-capped Gore Range to the west; continue hiking north.


Location: 39.654011, -106.053497

Trail meanders through shady, pine-scented forest; lavender columbine speckle the ground.


Location: 39.657162, -106.051697

Cross a small stream that trickles across the trail; in 100 feet, walk through a corridor of bent aspens.


Location: 39.66151, -106.052696

Cross a small, gurgling stream.


Location: 39.66272, -106.054604

Rest legs on the log bench overlooking the Gore Range. Next, trail travels northwest.


Location: 39.667141, -106.051498

Climb though pine forest; catch an occasional glimpse of the Gore Range through the trees.


Location: 39.672192, -106.042198

Climb southeast, then northeast up an open, grassy ridge.


Location: 39.678131, -106.037201

Continue straight on Ptarmigan Peak Trail @ 3-way junction with Ptarmigan Pass Trail.


Location: 39.680019, -106.033897

Stunning panoramas of Lake Dillon, Keystone, and the Tenmile and Gore Ranges stretch out to the south and to the west.


Location: 39.689079, -106.027901

Keep climbing north. In 800 feet, turn right @ wooden sign and leave the trail. Connect the cairns to reach Ptarmigan Peak's summit.


Location: 39.690716, -106.026344

Ptarmigan Peak (12,498 ft.): A 4-foot cairn marks Ptarmigan's broad, windy summit. Look out onto the gently, rounded slopes of the Williams Fork Mountains to the north and east. In stark contrast, the rocky, sawtooth ridgeline of the Gore Range dominates views to the west. Retrace route back to trailhead.

Lake Dillon

Location: 39.636017, -106.053558

Views overlooking Lake Dillon and the Tenmile Range.

Views of Lake Dillon

Location: 39.640575, -106.052704


Location: 39.652157, -106.054291

Aspen Grove

Location: 39.657387, -106.051773

Summit County Views

Location: 39.67102, -106.042526

Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness

Location: 39.672234, -106.040283

The Gore Range

Location: 39.674381, -106.039352

Wildflower Meadows

Location: 39.675877, -106.038696

Views of the Gore Range

Location: 39.685692, -106.028885

Summit County

Location: 39.687221, -106.028366

Grassy Trail

Location: 39.688583, -106.028038

Ptarmigan Peak Cairn

Location: 39.690765, -106.026344


Location: 39.690556, -106.02639

Summit Views

Location: 39.690342, -106.026443

The Gore Range rises dramatically behind grassy slopes.