Mineral Basin

Buena Vista, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 05/15/2022
4.7 / 5 ( 9 reviews )
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Partially Open
Typically Open: 06/01 - 10/31
Length: 8.31 miles
Highest Elevation: 11857 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Buena Vista
Nearest Town w/ Services: Buena Vista
Official Road Name: FS 344
Management Agency: San Isabel National Forest
District: Salida Ranger District


Highlight: Mineral Basin
The Mineral Basin Trail offers users the chance to explore the South Cottonwood Drainage above Cottonwood Lake. The trail snakes its way up the valley as it heads toward Mineral Basin and Emma Burr Mountain (13,538') Along the trail you will travel close to Cottonwood Creek, pass through open meadows, Aspen groves and along the upper sections of the trail are marshy areas that are frequented by Moose and Elk. The trail ends at a large parking area high in the basin with views of Jones Mountain and the South Cottonwood Valley below.


Route Information

Technical Rating

( EASY )

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1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The Mineral Basin Trail starts at the Cottonwood Lake Campground. Continue straight on FS 344, the wide and graded road passes through a grassy meadow just past the campground.

Directions to Trailhead

From the Highway 24/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. You must drive the Cottonwood Lake Trail to reach the Mineral Basin Trailhead.



Land Use Issues

This area is part of Pike-San Isabel National Forest, and as such is part of the 2011 Lawsuit where a coalition of conservation and recreation groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they say is the illegal addition of 500 miles of motorized roads and trails. A settlement was reached in late 2015 requires the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the roads and create a new travel management plan. Over the next year, 30 roads will be partially or completely closed while this evaluation takes place over the next 5 years. It is imperative that the OHV community let's their voices be heard on this issue. If we do nothing, those 500 miles will be shutdown. Contact the local ranger districts and let them know why the area is important to you and the history you have there. Salida Forest Service District Office Leadville Forest Service District Office

Trail Reviews (15)

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Writer Information

Marcus Trusty

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Marcus is a 4th 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 a few years ago Marcus had just been a participant in the wheeling community, but he has become much more active in preserving trails and working to make sure the wheeling community has their access maintained for future generations. In 2017 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, Tomichi Pass, Williams Pass, Ptarmigan Lake, Mineral Basin, Clohesy Lake, Lost Canyon, Champion Mill, Iron Mike Mine, and Slide Lake. If Marcus is not working you can generally find him somewhere out on the trails around Buena Vista.
For individual use only, not to be shared.