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Friends of Mount Evans and Lost Creek Wilderness
Payne Creek - Trail # 637


(Click Map for PDF)

Beginning Elevation: 8040
High Point: 9890
End Elevation: 9300
Difficulty: Moderate
Length, One Way: 10 miles
Seasons: Summer, Fall
USGS Quads: Shawnee, Bailey, and Windy Peak
Other Maps: Pike National Forest, Trails Illustrated #105
Usage Level: Medium


Access

Trail Heads

Payne Creek/Brookside


Connecting Trails

Brookside -McCurdy
Colorado Trail







Description

This trail provides access into the northeast portion of the Lost Creek Wilderness. It is a relatively gentle trail overall, climbing gradually through ponderosa and lodgepole pine forests and aspen groves, and then descending into open meadows along Craig Creek.

Leaving the trailhead near Bailey, the Payne Creek Trail and the Brookside-McCurdy Trail rise gently and soon reach a trail junction at the foot of a large meadow. Here the two trails diverge, with the Payne Creek Trail bearing left and the Brookside-McCurdy Trail bearing right. The trail crosses a small drainage and then rises gradually along the west side of Payne Gulch, crossing the wilderness boundary. After crossing Payne Creek, the climb to the high point is fairly steep as the trail climbs up an old logging road. The summit is in a pleasant aspen grove, then the trail descends into the Craig Creek drainage. In the large open meadow along Craig Creek, the trail first runs down the north side of the creek, then crosses to the south. The trail then continues in a southeasterly direction until you reach the Bluestem Draw flowing north into Craig Creek. Shortly thereafter, the trail crosses another unnamed drainage flowing north into Craig Creek and begins to climb out of the Craig Creek drainage to meet the Colorado Trail.


Trail's History

The trail originally began at the end of the road up Payne Creek, but was rerouted in the mid-1990s to the present trailhead.

About a 1 ½ miles in from the trailhead, the Payne creek and Brookside trails divide at the bottom of an open meadow. Above the junction on the north side of the meadow is a concrete slab that marks the site of CCC camp F-10-C. The short-lived CCC camp was established in the spring of 1933 by Company 1814, but only lasted until December of that year.

A short distance beyond the crossing of Payne creek, the trail climbs to join an old logging road. Just beyond this, the old road passes through the remnants of the 1927 Payne Creek Fire (135 acres).

After crossing out of the Payne Creek drainage, the trail drops down into Craig Meadows. Along the meadow can be seen a few remnants of old cabins, probably dating to when cattle were grazed here.

Before the designation of the Wilderness, an old road, the Pine Ridge trail, climbed directly south after the crossing of Bluestem Draw to the Colorado Trail, then known as the Hooper Trail.