We took a day trip east through the little towns of Hotchkiss, Paonia, and Somerset, then continued on to Gunnison County Road 12, better known as Kebler Pass Road. This is a dirt/gravel road with a couple spots of intermittent pavement that goes for thirty miles to Crested Butte, climbing over the 10,007’ pass.
Mural on a building in cute little downtown Paonia.
Along highway 133 before we got to Kebler Pass Road we encountered many cyclists heading west, and I remembered that the 7 day, 420 mile Bicycle Tour of Colorado was taking place this week. It was really hot, in the 90s at the 5-6000’ elevation they were riding through. Some of them didn’t look like they were having much fun. There is a lot of climbing on this ride.
Rest stop along the route.
The temperatures dropped to the upper 70s as we climbed to our destination, the Lost Lake Campground a couple miles south of Kebler Pass Road, about 7 miles before the pass..
Our lunch stop at a very scenic overlook..
The Three Lakes Trail begins at the Lost Lake Campground, with many sites having great views of Lost Lake Slough.
For a short hike (just under 4 miles), and with only about 500’ of elevation gain, it packs a lot of scenery.
Kebler Pass contains one of the world’s largest aspen groves, which you get to hike through on this trail. When we did the full moon ranger hike in Great Basin National Park we learned that aspen trees in a grove all grow from one root system, something we did not know. I found an article about the Keebler Pass grove which says:
“This aspen grove has been tested and found to be a clonal colony. It therefore grows from a single root system and is a single living organism. This hidden leviathan is ostensibly the largest living entity in the state of Colorado and one of the largest in the world.”
You can read the full article here. It’s quite fascinating.
More sights from the trail that passes Lost Lake Slough, Lost Lake, and Dollar Lake.
And even a small waterfall.
A very nice hike indeed.
On the way home we stopped in Paonia to give Revolution Brewing a try. It’s been a while since we visited a brewery and this is just a small one with a tasting room in an old church downtown. We got a flight of four different beers, and although not bad (I did like the IPA), it was pretty much just average.
We did have an enjoyable conversation with the guys at the next table, who were cyclists from Michigan riding the bicycle tour. The next day’s ride was going from Hotchkiss to Crested Butte, a route that took them over Kebler Pass Road. They weren’t too crazy about riding 30 miles of gravel on road bikes, and since this is not a race, they were planning to just bike to where the pavement ends and back to their car for about a 50 mile ride, then drive over the pass to Crested Butte. Smart idea!