|Typically Open:||Year Round|
|Highest Elevation:||10927 feet|
|Duration:||About 1 hour|
|Shape of Trail:||Out & Back|
|Best Direction to Travel:||N/A|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Walden|
|Official Road Name:||791|
|Management Agency:||Routt National Forest|
|District:||Parks Ranger District|
Owl Mountain is located to the south of Gould, Colorado, an area of the state famously known for its moose population. While traveling along in the area, keep an eye out for the giant creature as their population is abundant and this easy off-road trek to the top of Owl Mountain will offer the opportunity to see them. The view of the Michigan River Valley from the top is worthy of a photo. Don't forget your camera.
Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 18" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 18" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 36" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.Read more about our rating system
You can miss the trailhead if you are not paying attention as it is a little hidden. The trail heads off to the west from Jackson County Road 21. The road is bumpy from the start.
The trail makes a sharp left turn and you will find a large water bog that sits on the trail. It looks scary, but it's usually about 8-12 inches deep and has a solid bottom. Drive right down the center of the water to continue the trail.
It's not a difficult switchback, but it is an indication that you a gaining in elevation fairly quickly. If you peer through the trees here, you will notice that you are beginning to rise out of the Michigan River valley.
By now you have ascended enough that as the forest opens up, you can begin to view the valley below. As you proceed along the trail from here, you will find significantly more down fall and the evidence of how often downed trees are cut to keep the road open. Cutting trees that have fallen across the road, large or small, is common on this trail and a possibly necessary to complete the trail.
Continue straight. USFS 790 intersects here from the north. USFS 790 is a connecting road between Owl Mountain and USFS 792. This route is an alternative exit from the mountain after reaching the summit. If you choose to take this way off of the mountain, you will find USFS 790 less rocky than the Owl Mountain Road. The evidence of timber downfall near the top of Owl Mountain continues.
The final 100 yards to the summit is a steep climb on a loose rock surface. Although intimidating, the climb is easily accomplished. There is enough room on the summit for only a vehicle or two to park as the space is limited. Here you have an unobstructed view of the Never Summer Mountains off to the east. This Never Summer Range is part of the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Starting Point: Gould, Colorado
The US Forest Service allows dispersed camping throughout this portion of the national forest and several sites are available along the trail until you reach Waypoint 2. From there, the only place suitable for camping is at the summit. Just before you make the final climb to the summit, there is an open, level spot with plenty of room for parking that makes an excellent camping venue for those equipped for a primitive stay. If something more civilized is your style, The forest service operates a designated semi-primitive campground near the trailhead that has outhouse toilets available.