Jones Mountain/Ptarmigan Lake

Buena Vista, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 05/15/2022
4.9 / 5 ( 15 reviews )
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Partially Open
Typically Open: 06/15 - 10/31
Length: 2.45 miles
Highest Elevation: 12542 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: 349
Management Agency: San Isabel National Forest
District: Salida Ranger District


Highlight: Jones Mountain/Ptarmigan Lake
The Cottonwood Creek drainage just west of Buena Vista is an area rich with mining history, alpine lakes, wildlife and an opportunity to travel off the beaten path in Central Colorado. The Jones Mountain/Ptarmigan Lake trail offers unique access to Ptarmigan Lake from an off-road trail and the ascent up Jones Mountain will not disappoint . You will travel to 12,500' of elevation, high on the side of the mountain with incredible views from the backside of Mount Princeton and the South Cottonwood Creek valley below. Make sure to bring your fishing gear as Ptarmigan Lake is a short hike and has a good population of Native Cutthroat trout.


Route Information

Technical Rating


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1. Start (0 mi)
The trail starts where FS 349 departs from the Mineral Basin Trail to the right.

Directions to Trailhead

To reach the Jones Mountain/Ptarmigan Lake Trailhead, you must first drive to Waypoint 5 of the Mineral Basin Trail. Once at Waypoint 5, turn right onto FS 349. You are now at the beginning of the Jones Mountain/Ptarmigan Lake 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 (22)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: I’ve been wanting to go up This trail for awhile, but always lost track of time. I’ve recently traded in my wrangler for a Silverado 1500. Just curious the trail width.
–Michael Mastalski (05/19/2021)
–Marcus Trusty (05/21/2021)

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.