360-degrees of Colorado | VailDaily.com

360-degrees of Colorado

Collin Stewart
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyThe Mt. Thomas hike trail climbs around 2,500 vertical feet in about four miles

EAGLE COUNTY – This Sunday’s Hidden Gems hike climbs to unsurpassed views on the top of Mt. Thomas on the eastern end of Red Table Mountain.

It begins at Crooked Creek Pass above Sylvan Lake south of Eagle, and ascends through aspen groves and mature conifer forest. The trail emerges from the forest into alpine country where the trademark red rocks contrast beautifully with the green tundra, and climbs to the summit of Mt. Thomas, just shy of 12,000 feet.

“The top has a 360-degree view of northwestern Colorado’s wildest country,” says Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of Wilderness Workshop in Carbondale.

A person standing on top can see north almost to Steamboat and south to the Ragged Range above Crested Butte, Shoemaker says.

The proposed Red Table Wilderness area is over 100 square miles of land centered mostly on the 20-mile long sandstone massif of Red Table Mountain It has been a Forest Service Wilderness Study Area since 2002.

Red Table contains critical habitat for bighorn sheep, lynx, and peregrine falcons, and part of the area has been identified by the Colorado Division of Wildlife as one of 10 trophy big game areas in the state.

Though there are many areas outside the proposed wilderness where off road vehicles can legally travel, the biggest threats to the area are the illegal trails and roads blazed by motorized users.

The Mt. Thomas hike is about eight miles long and should take five to six hours. Also, the trail climbs around 2,500 vertical feet in about four miles, so the hike will likely be breathtaking in more than one way.

To learn more and to register for this free guided hike, visit http://www.whiteriverwild.org and click on Hikes/Events.

The Hidden Gems Wilderness Proposal is led by local citizens and outdoor enthusiasts in collaboration with Wilderness Workshop, Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Environmental Coalition and The Wilderness Society. The goal is to protect the last best roadless places in and around the White River National Forest for future generations as well as for the value they provide to our air, water, wildlife, scenic landscape and economic base.

As the campaign gains momentum this summer, Eagle County campaign coordinator Susie Kincade is reaching out to all stakeholders with informational presentations. If you have questions or would like her to address your community, please contact her at 970-328-5472, or susiek@whiteriverwild.org.

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