Carnero Creek  
USGS 7.5' Map: Twin Mountains SE, Lime Creek, Lake Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Laughlin Gulch
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Graded FR41G, CR41G 12.00 8,000 to 10,166 ft. NA 2-3 hours
County: Saguache
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Rio Grande NF, Saguache Ranger District
Saguache County
46525 State Highway 114, Saguache, CO 81149
505 3rd Street, Saguache, CO 81149
Summary: Carnero Creek is a graded road that connects La Garita with Hwy114 west of Saguache. It follows Carnero Creek, crosses Carnero Pass, then follows Houselog Creek
Attractions: Pass
Agency - Closed March 15 to May 15.
Best Time: June - Best
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows may close the higher section
Trail Heads
Lost Cabin Creek, FT786 - Hiking
Camping: There is one campground, Storm King along the road. There are also a few dispersed campsites.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore the roads around Carnero Creek.
Fall Colors: Good - Some aspen all along the road.
Navigation: From Del Norte, CO, head north on CO-112 E/Oak Street toward 5th Street. Continue to follow CO-112 E and go 3.2 miles. Turn left onto Grand Ave and go 2.7 miles. Continue onto County Road 38A and go 7.6 miles. Sharp left onto County Road 41G, Carnero Creek.

From Saguache, CO, head west on CO-114 W/Gunnison Ave toward 9th Street. Continue to follow CO-114 W for 14.9 miles. Turn left onto County Road 41G, Carnero Creek.
History: The Carnero Guard Station, first proposed in 1907, by the Cochetopa National Forest, was originally named the John Smith Ranger Station after a homesteader who built a cabin near the site, but never filed on the land. Construction began on April 16, 1908 by W.L. Ward, the contractor. The name was changed to the Carnero Guard Station by 1916.
Starting from the south end near La Garita, you will head over a small hill into the Carnero Creek valley on a graded road, CR41G. The road will cross to the north side of the valley after passing a large rock outcrop. The road will stay on the north side passing a few private homes. After 2.25 miles you will come to a place where the valley narrows significantly. This is Hellgate, a lava dike, which offers a nice photo spot. Just past Hellgate is a left turn for County Road J36. The road will follow Carnero Creek north passing many private homes. The road will then cross a small drainage, the North Fork of Carnero Creek, and head northwest. This is where the creek splits into the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork. Shortly you will come to an intersection on the left. This is the South Carnero, FR675, road that follows the South Fork. The Carnero Creek road will continue to follow the Middle Fork of Carnero Creek. Just past the intersection you will enter public lands and be on FR41G.

You will continue northwest along the Middle Fork in a large valley. From the last intersection you will travel 4 miles to the next intersection on your left. This is FR685 that goes to the head of Cecilic Creek. Just past this intersection is a road to the right that goes into the Storm King campground, which is on the west side of Storm King Mountain. A little further up on the left is the Lost Cabin Creek trail, FT786. The terrain will open up a bit as you continue north. Two miles from the campground you will come to an intersection to the left. This is the Deer Creek, FR684, road. Just past this intersection is a right turn that goes to the Carnero Guard Station. The main road heads left following the creek through a long open meadow with some interesting lava formations along the road. Just past the formations you will come to a Y in the road. The left is FR652, which heads toward Lookout Mountain. Take the right and head uphill into the forest. As you top out after a right hand curve you will come to an intersection. This is Carnero Pass. The road to the left is a short spur road that will end, once used for logging. At the end there are a few dispersed campsites. On the main road, continuing east through the aspens, you will now drop down into the Houselog Creek drainage.

Carnero Pass, looking east

photo by:
Adam M

The road will head down through the forest coming out into a large ope meadow. This is the headwaters of Houselog Creek.

Houselog Creek meadow

photo by:
Adam M

At the start of this meadow is a road heading off to the right, FR680. The main road will head down the meadow, crossing over the creek where the forest is closer to the road. After a while you will come out into another large meadow. There will be a short spur road on the left that goes to a campsite. The main road will continue along the east side of this large meadow.

Second large meadow

photo by:
Adam M

About half way down the meadow you will come to a spur road on the right that goes to another campsite. Just past this spur road, across the meadow, is an old homestead up agains a short ridge.

Homestead in the meadow

photo by:
Adam M

As you continue down the valley it will narrow and the road will enter into the forest. There will be an intersection on the left for FR720, which heads into Lower South Park to the west of Mount Lion. About a half mile further down the road from here will be an intersection to the right for FR706, which heads over to Browns Creek on the other side of the ridge to the east.

Mid section of Houselog Creek

photo by:
Adam M

Another 1.85 miles further down the valley will bring you to an intersection to the left for FR708, which heads back around Mount Lion to connect with FR720. Heading down the valley about a mile further will bring you to a faint two track to the right that goes to a couple of dispersed campsites. As you continue on the main road look on your left in the grassy area beside the road for a second homestead.

Homestead below the road

photo by:
Adam M

Past the homestead will be a sharp turn to the right for FR710, which heads east to Big Springs Picnic Ground. About a mile further down the main road is another spur on a two track, FR716, which connects back with FR710. Just past the FR716 spur you will come to a fence line with a cattle guard. This is the boundary where you will be leaving public lands. The road continues around a sweeping right turn, where there is a ranch on the other side of the field toward the northwest. The road will make another sweeping turn to the left, cross a cattle guard and pass the dirveway to the ranch. About a half mile from the driveway you will see a fenced in grave on the left. The road will loop around the mesa on the left and connect with Hwy114. Saguache will be right, Gunnison to the left.
Data updated - December 11, 2019     4WD Road driven - September 2, 2019     Copyright - 2000-2020