First of all, make your way to Basalt, CO from whatever direction you live. Most will likely be coming from the I-70 corridor and Glenwood Springs. Be sure and take the exit off CO82 that leads into downtown Basalt. In Basalt, you take the main street through downtown called “Midland Ave.” This then becomes CR104 and heads east toward Ruedi Reservoir. This is a pleasant, shoulderless road with lots of curves so you have to keep your speed down. Continue on the winding road as it gains elevation around the north side of the reservoir, then drops back down to water level at the inlet on the east end. Once this road crosses the river at the inlet to the reservoir, it’s 4.1 miles to the turnoff for FR/CR501 to the left. A sign here only indicates that it’s 3 miles to the Elk Wallow Campground, but this same road leads to the trailhead for the Savage Lakes and Carter Lake further up. On the Trails Illustrated map #126, this road is designated as "4B." The road ultimately deadends not far past the parking for the Savage Lakes TH at what appears to be a diversion project of some sort.

1.6 miles up the same graded county road from the Elk Wallow campground brings you to a trailhead for Josephine Lake. This is just past an intersection where Road 1B turns south for Cunningham Creek. Stay left at that junction. The signed Josephine Lake TH is a short distance beyond that road intersection There are pullout parking spots before & after the TH. About 100 yards up the road from the trailhead is a pullout that can accommodate about 3 vehicles. Another 100 – 200 yards further up the road is a good camping area on the right that can accommodate multiple vehicles, tents, etc.

For the Savage Lakes/Carter lake TH, continue another 3.2 miles on the graded road. It becomes rougher as you approach the trailhead, but still manageable for most vehicles. There is an ample parking area at the TH. Weekends will find numerous hikers and their vehicles here.

Note: Per a notice submitted by Ben Feinstein in summer of 2023, the Carter Lake section of this trail has been severely damaged by a blow-down of trees that extends all the way to Carter Lake from near the trail junction with the Savage Lakes trail. See our route description for UN 13002 for further details.


There is one fee campground along this road as already mentioned - the Elk Wallow. This is fairly small and most summer weekends will tend to fill. Beyond it, there are several primitive camp areas alongside the road. At the trailhead, there are not any very good tent sites, but it's easy enough to park and camp overnight in vehicles like pop-up campers, pickups with shells, etc. There are some primitive sites close to the road around the Josephine Lake trailhead, on the right, and just north of that trailhead.

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