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From the Town of Westcliffe: Alternate A: Drive north on HWY 69 and in about a mile, turn west onto CR170 (Hemenway Road) which will first head NW, then west. CR170 will take a brief jog to the north and then back to the west at CR175. Continue west and make another jog to the north at Pines Rd. then back to the west again. At a "Y" intersection, turn left onto CR171, (Ute Mesa Trail, but the Forest Service map seems to identify this as FR173. There should also be a Forest Service sign here for the Gibson TH.) driving through open fields and homes to CR172 (N. Taylor Road) where you will turn right (west), then head SW to the trailhead. The road officially ends in a short circle. A road continues on to private property. A trail heads north from this trailhead location to intersect the Rainbow trail (N38° 08' 28.87" W105° 36' 04.92"). There is private property all along this access. Please be respectful. At the bottom of all this description is a link to the San Isabel NF trailhead description for Lake of the Woods Trail and the Gibson Creek TH.
Alternate B: From the main intersection of Highways 69 and 96 in Westcliffe, drive south on 69 .3 mile and turn west (right) onto Hermit Road (CR160). Drive 5.9 miles west and then the road will turn north to intersect CR172. Hermit Road becomes Sampson Ridge Road as it switchbacks to make the connection, passing residences and ranches and working around "The Hogback." At CR172, turn left to finish the short drive to the TH. It's another 1.5 mile to the trailhead from the turn off Hermit Road. The last .2 mile on 172 may be rough and rutted according to one more recent source. Passenger cars may have some difficulty. If you're unable to park at the trailhead parking, park back along the road but be respectful of private property.
For another trailhead access to either South or North Brush Creeks, see the Ducket Creek TH, which is about 5 miles north on the Rainbow Trail of the S. Brush Creek trail and probably has less unnecessary elevation gain and loss. Look under our trailhead listing.
For an alternate access to the west side of the Sangre de Cristo Range and peaks in the same areas as Lake of the Clouds, try the "Cotton Creek" trailhead. Look for that name under the Trailhead listings. We have never used this trail, but it does show on the Rio Grande National Forest map and the Trails Illustrated Map # 138. The link below goes to the Rio Grande National Forest description of the trail:
Forest Service description of Lake of the Woods Trail and Gibson Creek TH: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recreation/recarea/?recid=12756&actid=104
Since there is so much private property along the access to the Gibson trailhead, we do not advise camping. Even at the TH, there is private property close by. You may be able to camp right at the TH but probably nowhere else on the way in.