Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area
The twin forks of Beaver Creek come rushing out of a rugged set of Colorado peaks to converge in one of the richest wildlife habitats in the state. Mountain lions roam the heights in one of the greatest concentrations in Colorado. The cats share the land with bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, black bear, beaver and bobcat. Overhead peregrine falcons, golden eagles, rough-legged hawks, and red-tailed hawks soar through the skies. Down below, wild turkeys and blue grouse scratch in the brush.
This marvelous wildlife habitat makes up the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area. Administered by the BLM, the WSA comprises 27,020 acres just west of Colorado Springs. With elevations ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 feet, the plant ecology rivals the wildlife. In the south, rolling hills hold a semi-arid pinon-juniper ecosystem. Cactus and yucca thrive here. The land rises moving north. On the slopes of the rugged peaks, engelmann spruce, limber pine, and douglas fir take over. And in the subalpine heights, ancient bristlecone pines have endured for centuries.
Traveling quietly on foot up Beaver Creek, you are likely to be rewarded with glimpses of the wildlife that makes its home here. Two maintained trails leave from the Beaver Creek Trailhead on the WSA's southern boundary (see Getting There). The Beaver Creek Loop forms a circle up the Trail Gulch Pack Trail, then west over to Beaver Creek and back downstream (running counter clockwise). The loop makes a 5-hour dayhike.
To penetrate further into the heart of the WSA, keep following the Trail Gulch Trail. It heads due north, over Big Saddle and Little Saddle, to connect with the East Fork of Beaver Creek. Along this trail, you will pass through the highest peaks. Crown Point at 9,922 rises to the west just before Trail Gulch hits the northern boundary of the WSA.
The snows that fall on the WSA's northern peaks keep Beaver Creek flowing fast year-round. Trout thrive in these cold waters: brook, brown, rainbow, and cutthroat. Expect a challenge if you are testing your skill in these swift waters!
While traveling State Highway 50, go 4 miles east of Canon City or 5 miles west of Penrose to the Phantom Canyon Road (Highway 67); north on 67 approximately one mile to the first right (County Road 123); east 1/4 mile to County Road 132; then north (left) on CR 132 approximately 10 miles to the trail head and the end of the road.
While traveling Highway 24 to Divide; at Divide turn south on Highway 67 following it through Cripple Creek to Victor. In Victor, turn left one block, then south on Teller County Road 86 (Phantom Canyon Road) to Teller County Road 861 (Skagway Road) following it to the Skagway Reservoir. Beaver Creek WSA can then be accessed by going down Beaver Creek via the Division of Wildlife state land approximately 1-1/2 miles to the northern boundary of the WSA. There is no public vehicle access beyond the Skagway Reservoir.
A Bit Of History
On west Beaver Creek, just outside the northwest boundary of the WSA, are the remains of a hydroelectric power plant. The plant began operating in May 1901 and continued operating for the next 65 years. The power plant provided some of the first electricity for Canon City and the Victor-Cripple Creek area. At one time the area around the power plant had a sawmill, laundry, saloon, and even a dance hall.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Travel Q&A
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- What type of stinging insects are found on this trail
1/2 mile N of power plant I was stung about 30 times, but do not know what it was. Looked like a deer fly. Stingers were white and still stung after 1 week.
Asked on August 13, 2012 by Chico | 22 views
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