Grizzly Helena

  • Season: Late June - Mid October
  • DIFFICULTY: Very Difficult
  • LENGTH: 27.3
  • ELEVATION: 9,500


The entire trail may be ridden using car shuttles between the Grizzly trailhead and the Helena trailhead south of Big Creek Lakes. Shorter out and back rides or alternate access are also available from the Rainbow Lakes, Pitchpine and Red Canyon trailheads, all accessible by turnoffs from Jackson County Road 12W west of Walden. Jackson County Roads 5 and 7 run north-south and provide connections between the interior trailheads for all-gravel shuttle routes. Be prepared for loose trail, abrupt ups and downs, and creek crossings in many areas. From the southern trailhead, pay attention after about .72 miles, at the intersection with the Agua Fria trail. This trail leads up a difficult but rewarding climb to a beautiful lake, but you will need to stay right (east) to remain on the Grizzly-Helena trail.

Know before you go:

This ride is only for the adventurous and is very challenging, but the reward is an intimate overview of the Park Range, with many creek crossings and views of the drainages feeding North Park from the Divide. The trail is open to OHVs, so singletrack and two-track sections require being alert of other users. Some sections require portage and orientation skills. High water and vast beaver ponds suggest better riding in mid- to late summer. The trail is as rewarding as it is challenging.

There are three main access points to this trail:
Southern terminus (Grizzly Trailhead): Access FR 60 either by climbing Buffalo Pass Road to Summit Lake and continuing to the east side, or from Colorado State Highway 14 by taking Jackson County Road 24 west to the National Forest boundary. Turn north on FR 615 and go past Teal and Tiago lakes to the trailhead at road’s end.

Trail midpoint (Lone Pine Trailhead): This trailhead allows access to the trail north or south at approximately 15 miles from each terminus. From Colorado State Highway 14 at Walden, go west on Jackson County Road 12W for approximately 18 miles, turn south on Jackson County Road 16 to the Forest Boundary. Riders south will find the Lone Pine South trailhead approximately 1 mile west of the boundary. Riders north can either use the Brown Creek Road (FR 650, a rough 4WD road that parallels the boundary and connects with the trail after about 3 miles) or the trail itself, accessed 1.5 miles farther west at the Lone Pine North trailhead.

Northern terminus (Helena Trailhead): From Colorado State Highway 125 at Cowdrey, go west on Jackson County Road 6W 18 miles to the community of Pearl. Turn west on FR 600, following FR 600 again by turning south toward Big Creek Lakes, then turn south across the Big Creek Lakes outlet to take FR 660 south to the Helena trailhead.