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This route follows the Continental Divide Trail/Colorado Trail four miles from a trailhead at the west end of Turquoise Lake at around 10,000 feet to Uncle Bud’s Hut at about 11,500 feet. The path winds through pretty aspen forest for the first mile, climbing gradually as it zigzags up a ridge on the north side of the lake. The second mile takes a sharp turn for the steep, switchbacking sharply up open hillside and open spruce forest. After a brief level section, the last two miles bring a series of ups and downs (mostly ups) with a number of lovely meadows, ultimately passing Bear Lake (downhill and to the right of the trail) before reaching FS 107, a dirt Forest Service road just below the hut. (You can also reach the hut in less than 3 miles by hiking or driving your 4WD up FS 104 and FS 107 from the paved lakeshore road. These roads are popular for winter access, as they are level with reasonable grades for skinning.)
The hut doesn’t appear to have a hiking trail that leads directly to it from this junction. You can either head directly uphill following the waypoint coordinates, or turn right and find the dirt road that leads to a small parking area behind the hut.
Fortunately, the road is not visible from the hut’s front windows, which instead look out on Turquoise Lake and the truly massive massif that is Mt. Massive. This endless ridgeline was covered with fall’s first snow when we visited in late September.
Included in this trip report is a mellow bushwhacking dayhike that we took from the hut. It generally parallels or follows the Colorado Trail, heading north towards another hut. We returned by climbing the ridge above the hut for splendid 270-degree views of the ranges that surround Leadville, the highest town in North America.
- Distance: 18.9
UNCLE BUD’S HUT
Location: 39.301365, -106.405448
TURQUOISE LAKE THD
Location: 39.264367, -106.339537
This trailhead is the primary winter access for skiers heading to the hut.
Location: 39.284758, -106.446754
Head east into the woods and cross a creek to a wilderness permit station. Then follow markers for the CDT and Colorado Trail, plus blue winter trail markers high on the trees. You’ll climb slowly then steeply for the first two miles. To reach this trailhead, head west from CO 24 or Leadville to CR9 and the “Turquoise Lake Thd” waypoint, then follow Turqoise Lake Rd. to the opposite (west) end of the lake.
Location: 39.299472, -106.417688
STRAIGHT AT 3WAY
Location: 39.300829, -106.407894
Cross creek and head straight up the hill to the hut.
Location: 39.316075, -106.406554
Join the CT/CDT for this section out and back to the lunch spot.
Location: 39.322566, -106.413344
Pretty picnic spot just off the trail overlooking a lake and meadow, with wraparound views of Galena Peak and other mountains.
Location: 39.3146, -106.40641
Leave the trail to begin cross-country climb up the ridge for big view.
Location: 39.311538, -106.407436
270 VIEW ON TOP OF RIDGE OVERLOOKING THE HUT — DEFINITELY WORTH THE CLIMB!
Location: 39.304093, -106.406806
View from Uncle Bud’s front porch
Location: 39.301295, -106.405163
14,421-foot Mt. Massive dominates the skyline to the south of the hut. This is one of the best hut views we’ve enjoyed in the 10th Mountain Division network.
Location: 39.301362, -106.405077
The view of Mt. Massive from the dining area inside the hut.
Location: 39.32248, -106.412973
Jon and Hadley snooze after a fine repast of salami, salmon, and smoked cheese.
Location: 39.293856, -106.438293
The tough grade is mitigated by spectacular views.
Location: 39.311457, -106.407566
Looking south and east past Turquoise Lake
Location: 39.311191, -106.407394
The birthday boy poses, plus Leadville in the background
Location: 39.290867, -106.442327