|Typically Open:||Year Round|
|Highest Elevation:||12503 feet|
|Duration:||About 3 hours|
|Shape of Trail:||Out & Back|
|Best Direction to Travel:||N/A|
|Nearest Town:||Buena Vista|
|Nearest Town w/ Services:||Buena Vista|
|Official Road Name:||398|
|Management Agency:||San Isabel National Forest|
|District:||Leadville Ranger District|
Situated in the San Isabel National Forest, halfway between Leadville and Buena Vista, Lost Canyon is a fantastic day drive for any 4wd vehicle. Home to some great primitive camping, this off-road trail delivers some of the best overall views you can find in the area. You can observe multiple, 14,000+ foot peaks on this drive and also gaze down on several of the largest bodies of water in the area including Clear Creek Reservoir, Twin Lakes, Mt Elbert Forebay, and even Turquoise Lake. During the fall, this trail provides spectacular aspen viewing because of the plethora of Aspen all along the trail. If scenery really isn't your thing, try your luck at gold panning and hope to strike it rich in the popular Cache Creek.
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.Read more about our rating system
|Spring:||Trail is usually passable a good portion of the way by late May|
|Summer:||Usually 100% snow free by mid July|
|Fall:||Snow will begin to fall in September and will make the trail impassable by November|
|Winter:||Trail is impassable due to snow|
From highway 24, turn west onto County Road 398, right behind Sage Outdoor Adventures.
After about 3 miles, the easy dirt road you came in on splits at a Y. Take a left and head south on FS 398. At this Y intersection you will find lot's of open space for primitive camping. This is also where the unlicensed route starts, so you may see a number of truck and trailers in the area.
Not long after starting the trail, you come to a very flat, wide open area amongst the trees. This is a very popular camping location since it is easily accessible. If you are looking to camp in a trailer, this is a fantastic location. Stay straight on the main road to continue the trail.
At the third switchback, look to your left where you will see a small camp site hidden in the trees. This site provides amazing views back down into the valley you started in where you can see all the way to Leadville. Two or three tents should be able to fit in this area.
Follow the trail as it heads north, making a hard right. The property in this area is all private, so please be respectful.
You will see an old metal mining structure on your left to the south. At this point the trail becomes slightly rougher as you climb uphill.
Although not well marked, after the mining structure, stay right on the less maintained road. The road to the left is a private road. At the time of this write up (July 2018), the higher route to the right had a dangerous, off camber washout not suitable for stock vehicles or novice drivers.
It's not long before the two roads meet again. Stay right at every opportunity as the two roads to the left lead to the active Gold Basin Mine. The public is welcome to visit the mine as long as the gate is open. The mine provides an opportunity to rent gold panning equipment so you can pan like a real old time miner.
Once above tree line, after the road has leveled off from climbing, you come to another Y intersection. Stay left and go south to continue the trail. Going right will take you to a scenic overlook where you can gaze down upon Twin Lakes and across the valley to 14,439 foot Mt Elbert. Don't forget to stop and check out the abundant wildflowers.
As you appear to crest the ridge, continue left towards the old cabin ruins southeast. The route to the right will lead you towards another scenic overlook where you can see Quail Mountain, Mt Belford, and Mt Oxford.
3.3 miles past the cabin ruin, and after a few steep descents, the trail comes to an end at a scenic overlook of Clear Creek Reservoir. The is a large turnaround here and we found it to be a great spot to stop for lunch and enjoy the views.
Starting Point: Granite