The Cottonwood Lake Trail is a short, easy drive that allows for campground camping and several recreation opportunities in close proximity to downtown Buena Vista. The Cottonwood Lake Trail follows CR 344 along South Cottonwood Creek until it reaches Cottonwood Lake. The trail then continues around the lake to the Cottonwood Lake Campground and connects to the Mineral Basin Trail. Mineral Basin allows for access to the area above the lake for further exploration and off-roading. Cottonwood Lake offers shore fishing and a boat launch for non-motorized water craft. Many times you will find stand-up paddlers, canoes, kayaks, inflatable rafts and fishermen in float tubes enjoying the water based recreation the lake provides.
From the Highway24/Main Street stoplight in Buena Vista, head west on West Main Street. Continue on West Main Street as the road becomes County Road 306 at the city limit. Continue heading west on County Road 306 as you start gaining elevation at the base of Cottonwood Pass. The turnoff for Cottonwood Lake, County Road 344, is on the left across from the Harvard City Riding Stables. Turn left onto County Road 344, this marks the start of the Cottonwood Lake Trail and is 7 miles from the stoplight in Buena Vista.
While in Colorado and staying at Rainbow Lake, my mom and I decided to take a drive. The road to Cottonwood Lake is graded gravel road and very easy. Heck, we did it in her old 2WD Escape. Rating is a 5 for the scenic beauty and simple trip back into Cottonwood Lake. The campgrounds for overnight and day use are easily accessible and are adequately separated from each other. A nice easy trip with my ma!
Marcus is a 3rd generation Buena Vista, Colorado native who grew up bouncing around the central Colorado mountains in the back of his dad's CJ5. During his younger years Marcus grew to appreciate public lands and the recreation opportunities backroads and 4-wheel drive trails offer. Marcus has been wheeling for 20 years now and has wheeled in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and California. Until recently Marcus had just been a participant in the wheeling community, but recently he has become much more active in preserving trails and working to make sure the wheeling community has their access maintained for future generations. Marcus helped to found Colorado Off Road Enterprise - CORE, based out of Buena Vista. CORE has worked with the Forest Service and BLM and has volunteer agreements in place with both organizations. CORE also has a Forest Service trail adoption agreement in place for Grizzly Lake, Pomeroy Lake, Hancock Lake, Hancock Pass and Tincup Pass, with other adoptions for trails pending. If Marcus is not working you can generally find him somewhere out on the trails around Buena Vista.