Ptarmigan Trail in the town of Silverthorne, CO is all about the views of so many surrounding peaks! Aspen groves, pine forests, and the beginning of springtime buds make for a great day out before summer begins. Of course, any season would be just as beautiful. 


The trailhead has no signage but is pretty obvious where to start from the small parking area. We hiked up a single-track path for a short way and ended up on a road. Then followed the road until we saw a small trail sign on the right. Now we are here!

Even from the start, the views have already begun! 

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It’s late April and the trail is surprisingly dry but the views show that winter snows still linger and ice still covers Lake Dillon.

I am in awe of the views sweeping all around us. I’ve always loved the Gore Range and its views are glorious as we hike up steep switchbacks. Stopping often to look behind us as we can now see Lake Dillon, Keystone, Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne and all the surrounding peaks!

Everything changed as we crested a ridgeline and started through aspen-lined meadows. Snow! Slushy and icy mixed in with periods of dry. All the while, the views of the Gore Range are following along beside us. Easy to see as the trees are still bare of leaves.

This area would be amazing in the fall colors of Sept/Oct.


I love a pine forest and here it is. Tall pines line the trail and the snow has deepened.  I can hear birdsong everywhere. A sign of springtime! We did have to go over, under, and around a few fallen trees during most of this hike which can be common in spring.

This is where I put my Yaktraks on my boots and hiking got easier! Very slushy and much more ice underneath.


Once again, it changes and the pines are gone from a forest fire the previous year. I haven’t been in an area of recent forest fires and actually was fascinated at how black the ground and the trunks of trees were. You could still smell the remnants of fire and see the hard work of our amazing wildfire crews.

The end of Ptarmigan Trail is the bench and our stopping point. The views! Once again are worth hanging out for a bit. Red ants and one busy bird keep us company.

Nuun Hydration Tablets – We dehydrate quickly at a high altitude. I add a tablet to my water on every hike.

Black Diamond Headlamp – Always good to have with you on any hike. If you get lost. It might get dark before you get back. If you are injured and have to wait until dark until help arrives.

Rain Poncho – I prefer a poncho over a jacket & pants. Airier and covers my backpack also. I find a jacket is clammy & sweaty.

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Spring is a great time to get outside in the high country. The trails are basically empty and even though the trees are bare it is still beautiful, quiet, and peaceful.

Crocus were blooming everywhere (the first wildflower of the season typically in spring in Colorado).

I have heard this hike is challenging yet we found it steep for a short way in the beginning but relatively easy after that.

> CLICK HERE for practical gear that we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks on every hike.

LOCATED: Exit off I-70 towards Silverthorne (Hwy 9) and at the first stoplight go right and keep veering right to Ptarmigan Road. Follow signs, the road turns to dirt and ends at the parking area for the trailhead.


4.6 miles out & back

Rated: moderate

No restroom

Elevation gain: 1,141′

Dogs ok on leash

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Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness

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Can't wait to see you on the trail!

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