Medano Lake Trailhead


Range: Sangre de Cristo
Coordinates: 37.8510, -105.4370

Road Difficulty

Moderate 4WD, long wheel base vehicles not recommended. Good clearance required. 4   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)

Driving Directions

From Westcliffe at the intersection of Highways 69 and 96, drive south on highway 69 ~24.0 miles to the well signed Medano Pass Road/County Road 559. Coming from Gardner, it is about 9.1 miles west of town on Highway 69 to the turn.Drive ~7.9 miles up the well graded 559 road to reach a handful of good pullouts/camping spots. This is a good place to stash any vehicle that is not 4WD with good clearance and 4 wheel low. To this point the road is easily Subaruable and may be suitable for most vehicles with decent clearance.Continue another 1.8 miles up the steadily deteriorating 559 road to reach Medano Pass. There is one significantly steep obstacle before the pass.Continue another 0.6 miles down the steep west side of Medano Pass. Turn right at the dirt road that leads a couple hundred yards to the trailhead. There are a couple excellent dispersed camp sites prior to the TH complete with bear boxes.

Winter Access

Status Updates 
Posted By: eskermo
Info: 2nd generation 4Runner (all stock except for a little larger tires) made it to the TH fairly easily. Our driver opted to air down from 35 psi to 25 psi and felt that was helpful.

My Forester was able to easily make it to the junction of 559 and 416 but I would not consider taking it farther. The road had some deep ruts for a couple miles and a short rough, rocky section before the camp sites, but were easily manageable. This was a good meeting spot for camping and piling in a capable vehicle in the AM.

The last few hundred yards to the TH are severely rutted as MtnMan pointed out in his recent TR of Medano and Herard. We parked at the first campsite and it only added a minute of walking.

FWIW, from Westcliffe Google Maps tried to route me through the private property north of the 69/559 turnoff. Bergsteigen’s TR mentions this as well. The first half mile of 559 was removed from GMaps, preventing it from routing you up CR 559. Just continue a few miles past the ranch and you cannot miss the big brown FS sign for Medano Pass Road.

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