The Music Pass trail in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado is one that I will gladly visit again and again. The parking area is up a 4×4 trailabout 14 miles south of Westcliffe. Toward the south end of CR-119 the road turns into about 5 miles of 2WD and then another 2.5 miles if you have 4WD. We parked at the 4WD trailhead where there was ample parking space. The trail is less than 3 miles round trip and is easy-moderate in difficulty.
It starts with uphill through a spruce and pine forest. The forest was full of rich green colors. The forest soon opens up to alpine meadows and sparse trees with expansive views to the Wet Mountain Valley below. Some wildflowers were out along the trails including Indian Paintbrush and lupines. Hiking through the meadows, eventually we reached the ridgeline. Shortly after cresting the ridgeline we crossed into the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve! This is where we turned around and started looking for a way to get up higher. We hiked up to an outcropping above the trail and were AMAZED at the views! The deep valley in front of us was surrounded by 13,000 ft mountains on all sides. The most spectacular peak was Tijeras Peak. Below Tijeras Peak is Lower Sand Creek Lake. I believe this trail continues and takes you all the way to both Upper and Lower Sand Creek Lakes. We’ll definitely be completing the entire trail someday.
On this outcropping we stopped to rest and set up for some time-lapses. We took 2 time-lapses from this location: one looking toward the west and one toward the south. While setting up the timelapses, we had a curious ground squirrel come check out our setup. Of course this provided a good opportunity for some wildlife photos!
On our way back down the mountain we stopped at another outcropping that was full of old, dead trees. The hike down the mountain was very pleasant. Clouds were building fast behind us, but with a short hike we had time to enjoy it. We stopped at a few places to photograph wildflowers and the hiking path. Once we were back on the valley floor, rainstorms were starting to move across the valley. The sun was still shining for us so we stopped to take another time-lapse of a rain curtain moving across the wet mountain valley.
This really was a thoroughly enjoyable hike. It wasn’t difficult and provided great scenery! Keep an eye our for the 3 time-lapses from this trek in our upcoming 2013 time-lapse reel!