Access UPDATESadly, the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead has been closed. Your best access to Cottonwood Lake is now via South Colony Lakes and Broken Hand Pass. Also, upper Cottonwood Creek can be accessed via Music Pass and Milwaukee Pass.
The message reproduced below comes courtesy of Steve Bonowski at the Colorado Mountain Club:
CMC has been notified by the Manitou Institute that they are no longer granting access across their property as of August 1, as directed to the staff by the Institute board. Access is available to the area through North Crestone trail; Willow Creek; and a temporary access via the Liberty Road gate to the south. There is access available to the peaks on the east side via either the South Colony Lakes drainage or the North Colony side.
The amount of requests has become too large to handle. In addition, there have been significant parking issues on the private property; people are camping on the private property without permission; and signs continue to be removed at the trailhead. Land management agencies will be posting their own no trespassing signs.
CMC is working with local interests, including some from the spiritual community, to find alternate access around the private property at the CC trailhead. One potential route was identified last month, but it can be accessed only via another entity's private property. Further meetings are expected over the next several months.
OverviewThis trailhead is on private land. Please refer to the Red Tape section for more information on the private property at the trailhead.
The Cottonwood Creek Trailhead is a popular secondary trailhead for the famed Crestone Peaks because it allows you to travel to Cottonwood Lake without going up and over Broken Hand Pass. It also provides access to a number of thirteeners, including Broken Hand Peak, Crestolita, Milwaukee Peak, Pico Asilado, and UN 13,020.
Driving DirectionsDrive on CO-17 to the small town of Moffat, 13.2 miles south of that highway's intersection with US-285 or 36 miles north of its intersection with US-160 in Alamosa. Turn east onto Saguache County Road T, drive 13.2 miles, and turn right onto Camino Baca Grande Road, which is just short of the town of Crestone. Take Camino Baca Grande Road for 5 miles as it passes through a rural residential development. Park near a large water tank on the east side of the road, but do so alongside the road and not on the private property adjacent to the water tank. Then locate the unmarked trail (it starts off as an old dirt road) on the west side of the road.
This trailhead is typically accessible year-round. Again, it's amid a rural, residential neighborhood. Consequently -- but I don't know this for sure -- I suspect they send out snow plows. Calling the FS for road conditions won't be useful because this trailhead isn't on their land. A better choice would be to try calling one of the local businesses in the sleepy town of Crestone.
Red TapeIf using the Cottonwood Creek Trail, please respect the landowners' wishes and abide by the following request which is taken from the Crestone Peak page:
From SP member Clyde Lovett: The land we cross to hike along Cottonwood Creek on the way up to Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle belongs to the Manitou Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org). I have spoken face to face with these folks about we hikers crossing their land. They request that all hikers check in with them and sign a release form before crossing their land. I have indicated their email address above. Their postal address is PO Box 118; Crestone, CO 81131.