Sourdough Trail

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Trail Type:

Counties Trail is in:

Sourdough Trailhead to: Red Rock Trailhead – 5.8 miles; Beaver Creek Trailhead – 12.6 miles; Buchana

Elevation : 9,200′ – 10,200′

The first section of trail #835 runs north from the Sourdough Trailhead and climbs gently, sometimes on old roads. It gains 1,000′ in this first three miles past Fourmile Creek and is fairly level for the next two miles. It climbs a couple switchbacks to the trail’s highest point along the 10,200′ contour.

The Sourdough Trail dips down, passing the Little Raven Trail and on to the Red Rock Trailhead. From the Brainard Lake Road, the trail continues to drop elevation by about 500′ in two miles. It crosses South Saint Vrain Creek on a wide bridge, and intersects with the South Saint Vrain Trail #909 on the other side. The Sourdough Trail drops to cross National Forest System Road 113, and continues on to Beaver Reservoir. The trail continues on the other side of the Beaver Reservoir Road. It then joins with Buchanan Pass Trail near Camp Dick Campground.

Usage: Light-Medium
Restrictions: Motorized vehicles prohibited. Fishing and hunting are allowed in accordance with regulations established by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Nederland and Ward, Colorado
Water: Occasional streams; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Vault toilets at Sourdough Trailhead and near Middle St. Vrain Trailhead at Camp Dick
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, CO 80301

Directions: From Nederland, travel seven miles north on Colorado Highway 72. Turn west onto National Forest System Road 298, signed as the turnoff for the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station. A parking area is not far on the left. Three other trailheads serve Sourdough Trail: Red Rock Trailhead, Beaver Reservoir Trailhead, and Middle Saint Vrain Trailhead.

Access:

There are four main trailhead locations for accessing the Sourdough Trail.

  • Sourdough TH: From Nederland, travel seven miles north on Colorado Highway (CO) 72. Turn west onto gravel National Forest System Road (NFSR) 298, signed as the turnoff for the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station. A parking area is not far on the left.
  • Red Rock TH: From Ward, follow signs for Brainard Lake (County Road [CR] 102). Red Rock Trailhead is three miles up this paved road before the entrance fee station.
  • Beaver Creek TH: About 15 miles north of Nederland, turn west onto gravel CR 96 at the Boy Scout Camp sign. The Beaver Creek TH is just east of the private Beaver Reservoir.
  • Buchanan Pass TH: About 18 miles north of Nederland, turn west on paved NFSR 114. Continue beyond Camp Dick Campground to the trailhead parking area.

Trail Highlights:

  • The first section of trail heads north from the Sourdough TH and climbs gently, sometimes on old roads. It gains 1,000 feet in this first three miles past Fourmile Creek and is fairly level for another two miles. It climbs a couple switchbacks to the trail’s highest point.
  • The Sourdough Trail dips down to the Red Rock TH, and passes the Little Raven Ski Trail. From the Brainard Lake Road, the trail continues to drop elevation by about 500 feet in two miles. It crosses South Saint Vrain Creek on a wide bridge, and intersects with the South Saint Vrain Trail #909 on the other side. The Sourdough Trail drops to cross NFSR 113.
  • The final mile of trail drops 400 feet to the Middle Saint Vrain. The trail continues on the other side of the Beaver Reservoir Road. It then joins with Buchanan Pass Trail near Camp Dick.

Important Information:

  • The Sourdough Trail is popular for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Please watch for other users.
  • Dispersed camping is allowed in the area and no permit is required.
  • Campfires are permissible. If you are planning to build a campfire during the dry summer months, it is advisable to contact the Boulder Ranger District (303-541-2500) before your trip in regards to fire bans.

Mountain Biking

The Sourdough Trail runs nearly 15 miles long across ridges and drainages west of Colorado Highway 72. Ride it end to end with a vehicle shuttle or take it a segment at a time. This trail connects to the Little Raven, Waldrop and South Saint Vrain trails in the Brainard Lake Recreation Area and to the Buchanan Pass Trail at its north end for endless segment and loop opportunities. Access Sourdough Trail from Sourdough, Red Rock, Beaver Reservoir and Middle Saint Vrain Trailheads.

The Sourdough Trail offers great mountain biking opportunities. Connect with Waldrop, South Saint Vrain, Little Raven (and its extension), or Buchanan Pass trails, or Middle Saint Vrain or Coney Creek Roads for loops and side trips.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Difficult

Day Hiking and Backpacking

The Sourdough Trail climbs over ridges and crosses creeks along the eastern flanks of the Continental Divide. It is a long-distance trail with multiple access points that facilitate moderate out-and-back trips, end-to-end shuttle trips and multiple side-loop opportunities. This trail intersects Little Raven Trail, South Saint Vrain Trail, Beaver Reservoir Cutoff, and Buchanan Pass Trail.

Fire Information  Unless seasonal restrictions are in effect, campfires must be attended at all times and cold to the touch with the bare hand before being abandoned. Collection of dead and down wood is allowed; do not break branches from standing trees for firewood.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Horse Riding

This trailhead at the south end of the Sourdough Trail offers ample parking and turnaround space. Sourdough Trail is a longer-distance trail excellent for a day-outing.

Water Availability  Occasional lakes and streams.
Size Restrictions none
Loading Ramp none
Hitching Rails none
Corrals none
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

From Sourdough Trailhead, the Sourdough Trail and Rainbow Lakes Road are both popular ski or snowshoe treks. The Sourdough Trail heads north, climbing over the shoulder of Niwot Ridge to Brainard Lake Road and beyond. Rainbow Lakes Road heads west for 4.5 miles to Rainbow Lakes Campground. Beyond the campground, the Rainbow Lakes Trail and Glacier Rim Trail head into the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Warming Shelters  none

Sourdough Trailhead

The Sourdough Trailhead is the main trailhead for the Sourdough Trail #835 and is the trails southernmost access point.

Usage: Light
Restrictions: Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
Closest Towns: Nederland and Ward, Colorado
Water: None
Restroom: Vault toilets
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District, 2140 Yarmouth Ave, Boulder, CO 80301

Stats

  • Trail Measurement: 5.8 and 12.6 Miles
  • Compass Latitude: 40°01'40.5"N
  • Compass Longitude: 105°31'29.7"W
  • Numeric Latitude: 40.027921
  • Numeric Longitude: -105.524910
  • Elevation in Meters: 2,804 to 3,109
  • Elevation in Feet: 9,200 to 10,200

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References

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