Lost Canyon

Buena Vista, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 03/16/2021
4.4 / 5 ( 12 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Impassable
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 11.7 miles
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
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Lost Canyon
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.

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Weather

7 day forecast for Lost Canyon

Route Information

Technical Rating:
( MODERATE )

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Waypoints

1. Turn onto County Road 398 (0 mi)
From highway 24, turn west onto County Road 398, right behind Sage Outdoor Adventures.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.043550, -106.266380

Starting Point: Granite

From Granite, Colorado, halfway between Leadville and Buena Vista on Highway 24, look for County Road 398 directly behind SAGE Outdoor Adventures. There is a green and white sign on the west side of the highway marking the direction for Lost Canyon Road.

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

This road is associated with two large current land use issues. First, this road is part of the current Pike San Isabel Travel Management Plan. As of March 2021, the current MVUM released has the route chopped short of its true ending. This is noted in the waypoints. The 4wd advocacy group, CORE, filed an objection to the record of decision and that objection was affirmed. The Regional Forester ordered the Pike San Isabel Forest Supervisor to go back and analyze whether the end segment of the Lost Canyon road past the current closure point should be designated as a legal motorized route. They are hopeful that this segment will indeed be reopened in the final travel plan, so motorists can once again drive to the viewpoint of Clear Creek Reservoir at the end rather than having to turn around at an arbitrary point in the open tundra. The second item is in response to a number of trail reports from late 2020 that mention the installation of a gate across the road by a land owner. CORE contacted the Leadville Ranger District about the chain and no trespassing signs that were reportedly put up and blocking the trail. The Ranger District verified that there is a documented public easement across that parcel of private property and ordered the landowner to take down his illegal obstruction of a public right of way. If at any point you find a chain blocking the road, report the obstruction immediately to the Leadville Ranger District, as the landowner does not have the right to block the road.

Trail Reviews (13)

Author:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
As a high elevation trail, Lost Canyon is still impassable due to snow. However I have a couple land use updates regarding this trail. First, CORE contacted the Leadville Ranger District about the chain and no trespassing signs that were reportedly put up and blocking the trail last fall. The Ranger District verified that there is a documented public easement across that parcel of private property and ordered the landowner to take down his illegal obstruction of a public right of way. Because it is winter and we have not been able to have anyone go up there to check, we cannot verify that the chain has been taken down yet, but it should be gone by summer. If the chain is still blocking the road after the road melts out in the spring, that should be reported to the Leadville Ranger District, as the landowner does not have the right to block the road. Second, CORE's objection was affirmed regarding the Forest Service's decision to not analyze the last couple miles of the trail (and the side route to the communications site) in the Pike San Isabel travel management process. The Regional Forester ordered the Pike San Isabel Forest Supervisor to go back and analyze whether the end segment of the Lost Canyon road past the current closure point should be designated as a legal motorized route. We are hopeful that this segment will indeed be reopened in the final travel plan, so motorists can once again drive to the viewpoint of Clear Creek Reservoir at the end rather than having to turn around at an arbitrary point in the open tundra.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Went to drive up this road yesterday and I also ran into the same closure as the last two reviewers. Talk to a guy on the road that flagged us down who said he was a friend of the person who owns the private property you eventually cross, but I couldn't really get a strait answer out of him whether the land owner can deny access to a forest road or not. Decided to just take the guy's advice (who was still very polite) and head back down. He did mention that the forest service was trying to close the road down and there were lawsuits to keep it open, but I can find any info via google. That may take a call to Chaffee Country to see if that tracks. There may need to be some additional info to inform people if this is closed or not.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Went up here and camped at the view spot. Was great. However in the morning not only was there the sign indicating road closed ahead, but it was actually blocked off. I don't know if it is a legal closure or not, since the forest service likely has a legal egress through here.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Agree with previous post. A great trail with only one rough section which high-clearance is recommended. At 4.1 miles when you pass the private property, there was a sign indicating the road was closed in 0.8 miles. We kept driving and did not see and further signs or closures until 7.4 miles where the Forest Service indicates the remainder of the road is closed. There were several tire tracks past this point which will eventually cause the entire route to get shut-down so please stop at the closure.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail with big views; Mt Elbert, Mt Massive, La Plata Peak, Mt Belford, and Mt Oxford....well worth your time! Trail is closed to motorized vehicles at the end unfortunately.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Nice little trail drive. Did the entire trip in 2WD. The only drawback and why it only got four stars from me is the south end of the trail is closed to motorized vehicles. Signs look very new, so this could be something that was put up after the spring thaw. Lots of space, great views, and easy trail.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Very scenic once you get above the trees. Eight of the 11 miles of the trail are just a flat open dirt road, it’s not until waypoint 7 that it gets a little rocky. Even then I did the entire trail in 2wd.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Awesome above tree line trail with great camping.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail is fully open. We made all the way to the end with no trouble. Easy, fun trail with spectacular views above the tree line. Ran the trail in a 2D JK, 3” lift, 33” tires aired down and sway bar disconnected.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail I was able to do it entirely in two wheel drive. The views at the top are great and there is plenty of camping opportunities on your way up, this is not a technical trail however I wouldn't recommend full size trucks attempt this due to vehicle width. the trail is blocked by snow halfway between way points eight and nine. Only ran into five other rigs on July fourth weekend and there was plenty of room to let them pass.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fantastic 360 degree views at the top if you go right at waypoint 9. This route is a little more difficult - will require a more aggressive stock vehicle like a Wrangler or FJ. Highly recommend. As another commenter noted, waypoint 7 now has the road closed and marked private property, forcing you to take the off camber road to the right. I'm trying to figure out how since 2016 a public forest service road became closed to the public for one, 100 yard section. Mining claim?

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Same comment as John (1 day later...). Forced to use off camber washout @ Waypoint 7. Long, somewhat exposed reverse if you decide not to do it, so I'd recommend getting out & hiking forward to see, prior to driving up the road. There is a small pad where you can park next to the old hut structure while you hike up to the washout. Stock FJ made it through in dry conditions. Definitely would not recommend if the road is wet.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The more maintained road at waypoint 7 was closed and physically blocked forcing use of the higher road with the dangerous off camber washout. This might just be temporary; however, take note for stock vehicles and novice drivers

Questions & Answers (0)

Writer Information

Ryan Boudreau

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Hi, I'm Ryan! I am a Colorado native and I've been wheeling since I was 16 years old. I grew up with a relentless passion for all things Jeep and off road related, and that passion has never died out. I am a member of the Mile-Hi Jeep Club, Patrol 16 Sasquatch Jeepers and currently own an '06 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited (LJ) nicknamed "Minion". I am a huge supporter of Stay the Trail and Tread Lightly, and have participated and even been in charge of many trail restoration projects. I have been a trail leader several times for events such as All-4-Fun, ColoradoFest, Set Them Free, 14er Fest, and other. I am also the creator of the Unlimited LJ Adventure. My rig is built for extreme offroading, but I love to get my tires dirty on any kind of trail whether it's rock crawling or just scenic high Alpine drives. I've wheeled all over the country including Colorado, Utah, Kansas, the Carolinas, AZ, and California. I love a great adventure, and love even more to share those adventures with others. If you see the "minion" out on the trail, make sure to stop and say hello.
For individual use only, not to be shared.