From the trailhead, walk south past some willows and into a large meadow. The easy-to-follow trail #227 continues south gaining elevation up the drainage, passing through both forest and meadow. For the first two miles, it gains elevation rather gently. At 2.2 miles, the trail crosses the creek coming out of Porphyry Basin. The USGS map indicates a footbridge here. We found no such thing in 2005, but crossing the creek was not that difficult. Note that a path into Porphyry Basin heads up from this crossing area, on the north side of the creek, before you cross the creek. On this first & lower section of trail, do not be surprised to see cattle and in wet conditions, they can really muck up the trail.
Continue hiking on past the creek crossing for another 2 miles with the trail steepening and crossing through an avalanche run out area with downed timber. At about 3 miles from the TH, you'll come to a nice meadow area with lots of flowers mid-summer. Between the Porphyry crossing and this meadow, the views of the east side of Precipice Peak are spectacular with a dramatic array of cliffs, angular rocks, spires and pinnacles. As you continue hiking, there will be some possible campsites to consider. Most tended to be small and somewhat sloping with old cow pies. At about the 11,400 foot area, we found a usable campsite, but the best campsite we found was continuing all the way to where the trail takes a turn to the east and begins its ascent up to a pass just north of the Heisshorn. If you continue on this trail #227, it drops over a tundra saddle and into the East Fork of the Cimarron to become #228. There is also another trail that heads off to the right/west to cross the creek and then ascends to the base of Coxcomb Peak. This trail is called the Coxcomb Trail #132. In places it is not very visible and marked by stakes/posts. It does not show on the USGS but is on the Trails Illustrated map #141.
If you'll leave the main trail where it makes this turn and walk south, crossing another side drainage, but still remaining on the east side of the Middle Fork, there is an excellent campsite which at the time was being used by horse packing groups. If unoccupied, this makes an excellent base camp for ascending El Punto and Heisshorn together, and then UN13,377 and UN13,206 together.
The campsite we recommend was somewhere near these coordinates taken from our best guess on Google Earth. Elevation was right around 11,600 ft.
Middle Fork Camp
N 38° 05' 14.16", W 107° 31' 08.91"
Open This Approach in a New Window