FINALLY I started my long-standing quest to hike West Snowmass Creek Trail. This trail links Snowmass Lake trail and Capitol Lake trail, so I see the trail signs every time I hike those trails and have long wanted to do that link. But it is not a closed loop and the two trailheads are not close together, so to do the whole trail would require a car at both ends. Given the steepness of the Capitol trailhead access road this has been a sticking point to date. This year I had the bright idea of doing this in two halves; firstly from the Snowmass Lake side, then later (on another day) doing the Capitol Lake side of the link, with the goal of getting to wherever I got to from the other side, thus doing the whole trail in two separate attempts. Yesterday I decided to start from the Snowmass Lake trail (25 minutes from Basalt) and see how far I could get. It is hunting season so I wore bright orange and I was very glad I did! I saw two hunting groups and one gunshot was fired quite close by.
The beginning of the trail is a stream crossing about 45 minutes from the Snowmass Lake trailhead – VERY cold water! I got to about 2 hours in past here; some places are quite steep, and some are a really pleasant walk through pine and aspen forests and pretty meadows. Hiking poles are handy for the small waterfall and brook crossings. There is a fork in the trail about 1.5 hours in, where going left would take you to a small lake or pond at the top of the creek; the right fork goes above this meadow towards Haystack. At this point I realised that the trail probably goes around Haystack to my right rather than going between Haystack and Mt. Daly. This top meadow in the last photo below where you get a great view of Mt. Daly (right) was my turnaround point for the day. Next time I will start from the other side and see if I get to this meadow 🙂