In the summer of 2009 we backpacked on the Winter Trail. This in near the Lizard Head Wilderness area. We have also done it as a day hike with my dad in 2008. I don’t remember all of the details of the trail that I would like to, but I will update the information next time we are out in this beautiful spot. Hopefully next week!
Trail Head: From Hwy 145 you take road 535. Road 535 makes a loop off of 145 so you can either go up the West Fork Road, just “down river” from Stoner or access 535 from a turn off “below” Lizard Head Pass and “above” Rico. We are usually coming from Dolores so we take the West Fork Road. This road is pavement then changes to gravel. You go past Dunton Hot Springs (private and pricey, sorry) past the turn off to Navajo Lake trail head. Soon the road gets steep and has a couple of tight narrow switch backs. We do this with our truck and trailer, and plenty of other people do too. Soon you come out to a stunning valley, locally called “The Meadows”. The peaks of the Lizard Head Wilderness Area are on your left. Stay on this road past a couple of other side roads. Then take a right on road 471 to the Calico Trail Head. This is a huge trail head with room for trailers and tying horses. There are pit toilets too. The Winter Trail is across the road from the parking lot and is well marked.
Terrain: This is a mountain trail that is well worn and easy to follow. It is through some pine and mostly along and through a large meadow. After crossing a creek there are open slabs of rock and then the trail enters trees again. From here the trail begins to drop down and I think would come out near Dunton if you continued on it.
Accessibility: This trail is open to hikers, bicycling, horses, and dirt bikes.
Length: The hike to the water crossing at the stream and the top of the canyon may only be a little more than a mile. It is definitely less than two. I’m not sure how much further the trail goes if you keep on it.
Difficulty: Easy. There is little elevation gain and the trail is very easy to follow. There is a short steep section when you drop down to the creek but it is no biggie.
Highlights: The wide open meadow allows for wonderful views. It is an easy trail and when you get to the water, it is the start of a neat rock canyon that starts to drop quickly down. This area is lots of fun to explore and makes a wonderful backpacking camp.