Hike Times:
trailhead - Tabagauche Summit 2.5 hrs
summit - trailhead 1.5 hrs

Total Round
~4.0 hrs

2 out of 5
Difficulty Rating:
2 out of 5.

Elevation Profile, Jennings Creek
Elevation Profile
via Jennings Creek

Trail Map
Trail Map
via Jennings Creek

Nearby Civilization:
Buena Vista

.:Getting to the trailhead:.

The Jennings Creek trailhead is just off US50 west of Salida. From Denver, take US285 southwest out of Denver, through the foothills and South Park to the junction of US 285 and US 24 (just west of Johnson's Village and just south of Buena Vista).  From this junction, head south on US 24 towards Salida. Upon reaching the US-24 / US-50 junction just outside Salida, turn right (west) on US 50 and drive 6 miles to the tiny, tiny burg of Maysville. Take a right on Chaffee County 240, and the Jennings Creek trailhead is about 6 miles up the road, which is passable for most cars.
.:The trail:.

.:Trip Report:.

The first climb of the season. It was a dark and stormy day (cliche, cliche...). The Tabagauche-Shavano trailhead is clearly marked on the north side of the road, and parking along the road can be scarce. The trail immediately winds in to the undergrowth and basically heads straight up the side of the ridge. After about a half-hour of bushwacking, treeline abruptly hits on a small lip in the side of the ridge. The trail continues straight up the ridge, and is pretty steep. To make matters worse, the footing is loose and gravely, so be careful. This part of the climb was a little surreal, with low, dark clouds zooming through the valley below, and ghostly dead trees dotting the landscape.

After finally gaining the top of the ridge, the trail proceeds north and gradually east along the top of the ridge, and is nothing compared to the previous mile. Be careful to stay on the trail and avoid temptation by cutting your own trail. After 13,000 feet, the terrain is mostly loose scree which can make life difficult. The final half-mile is a fairly easy ridge walk to the east. There are a few tough spots on top of the ridge - drop just to the right (south) of any problem areas.

When I got to the top of Tabagauche, there were about 3 or 4 other people there, taking a brief rest before heading off to Shavano...a short ½ mile away. Someone had erected an American flag at the summit, which was a little stirring. Having signed the register and eaten a couple Clif Bars, it was time to head back. I was hoping to head to Shavano, but I had an appointment to keep, to Shavano would have to wait. The decent was fairly unremarkable, except for that steep ridge near the beginning. The aforementioned loose gravel really makes you watch your step. Despite the clouds, the weather held off, and by the time I drove through Salida, it began to break up for a nice sunny drive back home.

On the summit of Tabagauche Mountain. The ridge to Shavano is behind me.
On Tabagauche Mountain
Posing with the Shavano ridge to the east.
Dead timber at treeline. Spooky-lookin', ain't it?
Hiking at treeline
Dead, bleached timber near treeline.