Lost Creek Wilderness {November 2011}

Friday, March 2, 2012

Piney Guard Station: White River National Forest, CO

Piney Guard Station: White River National Forest, Gore Range
When I inquired about Piney Guard Station this past December, the forest service ranger imparted two words of caution (that I interpreted as complete bliss): snowshoes and rustic. He actually said that we could only reach the cabin via 3 miles on snowshoes or cross-country skis, and that it would definitely be rustic. Perfect! So, for a mere $50, my Dad, boyfriend Justin, pup Kona, and I were spending the evening in a Gore Range cabin on December 12th, 2011; there wasn't a single reservation within several months of us ... in either direction.

There are three photos (all snow-free) of Piney Guard Station online; two are from forest service and recreation websites, and the other is of a random person standing near the front porch next to a campfire. I've concluded that the cabin's existence is virtually unknown as well as the fact that it can be rented on a daily basis, year-round. It is located north of Wolcott, past Edwards on 1-70. The turnoff onto Muddy Pass Road (Forest Service Road 700) from Hwy 131 can easily be missed ... but soon we were driving past a field of nearly 50 dogsled pups (which caught Kona's attention - he'd fit in seamlessly) on our way towards FSR 744. From there, we were to snowshoe 3 miles to our destination. Justin had other plans; despite one or a few minor mishaps, he and my trusty Subaru had managed to get us halfway closer on the snow-covered road before coming to a stop, thus putting our mileage at 1.5 to the cabin. Though I fully supported this decision, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. Justin has many years of Winter Park snowy driving experience, and my car is excellent in these conditions.

Beginning our adventure {12/12/2011}
With heavy packs and shared excitement, we set out around 11 am. The snow was ideal for snowshoeing - untracked and fluffy - and the route meandered gently uphill through aspen and spruce trees. I counted only four falls during our short hike; though I'm guilty of one, I think something may have been misbalanced in my Dad's pack :) Nevertheless, he did provide comic inspiration for our latest homebrew: the Cherry Tumbler.

Piney Guard Station was built in the 1930's as forest service workers' housing; it consists of one cozy room, a set of bunk beds & two cots, an old German wood-burning stove, a table & two benches, and many random provisions that have been supplied by either former guests or White River forest rangers (including candles of all sizes, mugs, plates and bowls, skillets, utensils, paper towels, and toilet paper). I fell in love with the place upon opening the front door. Plenty of firewood can be found in the large box outside - though it did take nearly two hours to heat the cabin, it remained toasty until we departed the following morning. 

We had a stellar stay at Piney Guard Station. Since the stove heated the cabin so nicely, we were able to spend time outdoors knowing we could always warm up if need be. The views of the Gore Range are spectacular from the front porch as well as throughout the latter section of the snowshoe hike. While I would prefer to spend my time and adventures elsewhere during warmer months, this trip was ideal for the dead of winter. Plus, we found both the inspiration and label for our sour cherry ale. Perfect all around!


  1. Thanks for the wonderful post! I'm thinking about staying here in Dmber of this year.

  2. Just booked it for two days this August. Any hiking recommendations?

  3. Just booked it for two days this August. Any hiking recommendations?