Lizard Head Loop

80 mile loop around the Lizard Head Wilderness Area.  Much of the loop is above 10,000′ with several creek crossings, wild-flower photo-stops, and access to back-country campgrounds.

Staging at Lizard Head Pass, southwest of Telluride, Colorado provides access to multiple back-country dispersed campsites, pit toilet bathrooms at the pass, and excellent views of the sunrise and sunset.

View from our dispersed campsite off Galloping Goose trail near Lizard Head Pass

Bathrooms available at Lizard Head Pass on West side of Hwy 145

To start the loop proceed southwest on 145 from Lizard Head Pass for 5.6 miles.  Look for a right turn across from Cayton Campground onto CR 38, aka Dunton Road. From here you’ll stay on smooth graded gravel passing Navajo Lake Trailhead and Burro Bridge Campground.  After 9.9 miles turn right onto 611.  The turn is well-signed with mileage for Black Mesa Road (611) to Dolores and Norwood.

Sign for the turn onto 611 after 9.9 miles on CR 38 (Dunton Road)

Once on 611 you’ll proceed for 4.8 miles.  You’ll be looking for a right turn onto 616 that looks like an up-hill two-track trail.  See the image below:

Left takes you on 611 and the right turn is what you want…trail and 616!

Stay on 616 for several miles of fun two-track trail.  The elevation of the route will rise and fall several times before rejoining a graded gravel road that continues north to a large meadow where you’ll see a sign for Woods Lake.

Wildflowers along 616

Broken rock, mud puddles, and patches of intense wildflowers dot the route.  While snacking on trail-mix we were passed by a rider on a GS1200, so big bikes can make this route just fine.  Check out the video for more.

 

Quick video tour of 616 on the Lizard Head Loop

Once you reach a graded gravel road turn right (north) towards Norwood.  Travel 3.4 miles through dense forest until you pop out onto an open meadow and come to this well-signed intersection.

Signs lead the way to Woods Lake

Turn right (east) at this sign and proceed towards Woods Lake on 618.

Lone cone cabin makes for a quick side-trip, but follow signs for 618 and Woods Lake to stay on track.

Sign on the east side of the meadow.  Turn left here to stay on 618 towards Wood Lake.

Depending on your speed the trip to woods lake will take 20-40 minutes from the meadow.  We saw several large campsites near the meadow, so this might also make a good basecamp if you’re coming into the area through Norwood.

Several bike-based campsites are also available off 618 between the meadow and Wood’s Lake.  Keep an eye out for side trails and you’ll be sure to come upon a few.

Dispersed campsite off 618, west of Woods Lake, Colorado.

After 13 miles 618 t’s into 57, another gravel road.  Turn right (south) to visit Woods Lake or left (north) to return to 145 and pavement.

Woods lake is a first come, first served campground adjacent to a high alpine lake.  A few reviews said it could be buggy, but we weren’t assaulted during our 20 minute visit.  Your experience may vary.

Fire-pit next to the water at Woods Lake

From Woods Lake it’s 9 miles back to 145 along a graded gravel route that changes to pavement shortly before encountering 145.   To return to Telluride or Lizard Head Pass turn right (east) and enjoy the scenic, asphalt tour back to your starting location.   Gas is available in Telluride at multiple locations.

Enjoy the ride!

View from dispersed campsite near Lizard Head Pass

Name: Lizard Head Loop

Nearby town: Telluride, Colorado

Distance: 80 miles

Description: 2 track, graded dirt, and pavement loop around the Lizard Head Wilderness Area

Also Explore: Woods Lake

Fuel Range: 80 miles

Best Time of year: June through September

Fees: None

Camping: Yes, Lizard Head Pass, Woods Lake Campground, Burro Bridge Campground, other dispersed.

GPS Data: Right click here and save as.