DIRECTIONS: Getting to Windy Ridge is an adventure in itself. The road is certainly not the worst dirt road in Colorado, but it is slow going. From Fairplay. CO, head north on Hwy 9 to Alma, CO. Turn left on County Road 8. In 2.8 miles, turn right onto County Rd 783. From here, the road gets rough but it is manageable if you have some decent clearance. Follow the road for 2 3/4 miles to the Mineral Park Mine. Park at the mine unless you have a good 4WD vehicle. I made it to the mine in a 2010 Subaru Forester with no problems.
On the eastern slopes of Mt. Bross is an area called Windy Ridge. Windy Ridge hosts the Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area, a collection of ancient trees that are around 1,000 years old. I've know about this area for a long time and finally got around to checking it out. It is a beautiful spot and well worth the effort to visit. Aside from the historically and naturally interesting grove of trees, this area has tremendous views of Mt. Bross and the surrounding mountains.
From the Mineral Creek Mine, walk up the dirt road for about 1/2 a mile to the upper trailhead. Along the way, you'll get some nice views and walk by some interesting mining ruins.
Once you arrive at the official trailhead, there is a small parking area and a clear trail heading east beyond a small interpretive sign. The trail heads straight towards the grove of bristlecone pines but you are free to explore the rest of the area off trail. If you follow the trail east as far as it goes, you will be led to the center of the grove. Hike east all the way to the edge of the flat lands, the view is terrific in this spot and looks down on the town of Alma and out to fairplay and south park. I then suggest turning left and heading north to explore more dense bristlecone forest. If you head north and bear to the west you will soon reach the summit of Windy Ridge (11,724 ft), marked by a cairn.
From here you can head back to the south and wind your way back to the trail. Keep an eye to the west and look for the poles to find your way back to the trailhead if you get find yourself off the mark.
The Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area is a tremendously valuable resource. These are some of Colorado's longest living residents and thanks to the U.S. Forest Service for protecting it.
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Windy Ridge (Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area)
White River National Forest
Date Hiked: August 2, 2020
Distance: 2 mi (RT) from Lower Trailhead
Elevation Gain: 350 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 11,400 to 11,724 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39.41024, -105.96834
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service