The Sourdough Trail is an 11-mile round trip, out-and-back trail from the South Sourdough Trailhead off of State Highway 72. Look for a sign for the University of Colorado Mountain Research, and turn onto a gravel road. The approach is most easily traveled with an off-road or 4-wheel drive vehicle because it's loose gravel, slippery and very rocky. In fact, it's been likened to driving on a creek bed!
Divided roughly into North Sourdough and South Sourdough, you'll find the trail's southern section easier, with a gradual ascent, while the northern section is rougher and more difficult, though still not extremely steep. Bridges cross over 2 small creeks. Be sure to bring your own drinking water and clean up bags for the journey. Open from June to September for hiking, many people also enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on its snow-packed trails in the winter. Note that dogs are not allowed on the trail between December 1 and May 1, but snow begins in the early fall and doesn't end until early June, leaving you with plenty of time for wintery fun with your pup!
While there is no summit to attain, the Sourdough lures hikers and campers with its secluded and quiet environment through the trees. The trail takes hikers through dense forest of pines and aspens, and opens up from time to time to meadows filled with wildflowers and views of the surrounding peaks and lakes. You may spy wildlife like gentle deer, elk and moose or bears and mountain lions. Birds are abundant and birding is a popular activity on the trail. With no trash receptacles except at the trailhead, please remember to pick up after your dog and carry it out on the return trip.
Informal, undesignated campsites along the trail are handy places to stay if you and Fido want to make this an overnight. Most are made recognizable by past campers. No permit is needed for hiking or camping here. Although this is not a strenuous challenge, the Sourdough is a lightly traveled, serene trail and great for a unique and memorable walk with your dog!
Wildlife that make the area around this trail their home includes bears and mountain lions. Bear repellant is a good idea.