Coal Mesa #451


The Coal Mesa Trail #451 begins at the Soap Creek Campground and ends at the intersections with the Rainbow Lake Trail #449.  This trail is in the West Elk Wilderness for most of its length and Wilderness Regulations apply.  There is a bridge across Soap Creek and the trail enters the Wilderness about half a mile from the trailhead.  After about 1.5 miles, the trail intersects with the Cow Creek Trail #453, the Coal Mesa Trail forks to the right and follows Coal Creek.  This trail will intersect with the Cow Creek Trail again before it climbs to a ridge that it follows for a distance offering excellent views.  The trail gains 3,889 feet in elevation from the trailhead to Bonfisk Peak which is at 11,629 feet.  It then drops 1,829 feet to the West Elk Creek.  Eventually it intersects the Coal Creek Trail #452 before ending at the Rainbow Lake Trail.  Trail Map

At a Glance

Open Season: June
Usage: Light
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Fall Hunting
Restrictions: Open to Hiking and Horseback.
Closest Towns: Gunnison, CO

General Information


Coal Mesa Trail Access:

From Gunnison, travel west on Highway 50 for approximately 25 miles to the intersection with Highway 92.  Travel west on Hwy 92 for approximately 1 mile, over Blue Mesa Dam.  Once across the dam, turn east onto Soap Creek Road, FSR #721 and travel approximately 9 miles to the Soap Creek Campground.  The trailhead is located near the south end of the campground.


Coal Mesa Access:  T. 49N., R. 4W., Section 32.  U.S.G.S. Maps: Little Soap Park, Big Soap Park, and West Elk Peak.  Elevation: 7,740 feet.  A horse ramp and corrals are available adjacent to the Soap Creek Campground.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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  Area/Length : 
15.0 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
7,740 - 11,629


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