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Ptarmigan Lake

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Distance: 6.6 miles

Ptarmigan Lake is a high elevation lake in the Sawatch Range at the base of Jones Mountain (13,232’) that was named such because of the flocks of ptarmigans often seen in the area. This larger than normal lake is very popular for hiking and fishing, and snowmobiling throughout its vicinity is a common winter activity as well. At normal water levels, Ptarmigan Lake is 12,147 feet in elevation.The most common route is via the Ptarmigan Lake Trail. Its trailhead is located on Chaffee County Road 306, the trail is 3.3 miles (one way) to the lake.


Directions: From the Buena Vista traffic light, travel 15 miles west on CR 306. The sign and parking area is on the left.
Another route to Ptarmigan Lake is via Chaffee County Road 344. This road requires a 4-wheel-drive high clearance vehicle, but greatly reduces the hiking length. At Cottonwood Lake, travel four miles on CR 344 to Grassy Gulch Road (Road 349). The road up Grassy Gulch is a much rougher 4WD road than CR 344. Some walk up the road; others may continue if they desire a real 4WD adventure. Near the top and above timberline, a small parking lot exists on the right. From there, a short 0.2 mile trail travels over the ridge where one is immediately at the “back side” of Ptarmigan Lake with a spectacular view of Mt. Yale in the background.

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