After two days of backcountry skiing with some super-strong guys, I headed out for a solo adventure on Friday in Colorado’s San Isabel National Forest. A friend of mine owns some private land in the area with a cabin on it, so I wanted to see if I could find it, and I also wanted to hike up to the Sangree Froelicher Hut, which is one of Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division huts. With all of the snow that’s continued to fall, of course, I also hoped I’d find some good powder turns on my way down.
The trailhead to Sangree’s hut is the Buckeye Gulch Trailhead. It’s just off of Highway 91, about 19 miles south of I-70 from the Copper Mountain turnoff. Beware: the parking area isn’t marked from the road, but once you’ve found it, the trailhead is marked with an obvious blue sign, and the route up to the hut is signposted extremely well with blue diamonds along the way.
From the trailhead, the hike up to Sangree’s is about 3.25 miles, and (I’m approximating) it’s less than a 2,000-ft elevation gain. At the beginning, the trail is steep for just a bit, and then it widens out along a nice jeep road.
At a fork in the trail, you’ll go west and enter back into a nice forest before the trail opens up again. The weather crapped out as I was skinning, and it was snowing sideways by the time I reached this area, but that fresh cover of snow made it nice for the descent!
Such a shifty day…I was seeing blue skies again by the time I sighted timberline.
And finally, just as I was thinking “I should see the hut anytime now,” I saw the hut. How awesome is this place at 11,700 feet? It’s like a mansion up there in the mountains. The Sangree Froelicher hut has three bedrooms and sleeps 16. I walked up on the porch and checked out the solar panels, peeked in the windows, but…
…all of the doors were locked, so I couldn’t really snoop around like I wanted to on the inside. The hut is closed for the inter-season and will re-open in a few weeks for summer guests.
I wandered around back and found the luxury outhouse. Check it out! Not locked. So I tested the facilities. Very nice.
I hoped to take in some of Lake County’s big mountain views from Sangree’s deck, but gray clouds swirled around the peaks. Sometimes the reward for climbing up to a place like this is the view, and on others…it’s the descent. Definitely, this day’s reward was the ride down—a gentle ski through meadows and trees, and a short hike out to the car.