Polar Star Inn from West Lake Creek Trailhead via Holy Cross Wilderness

Total Mileage


Trailhead Elevation


Cumulative Elevation Gain


Cumulative Elevation Loss



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Route Description

Hut visitors and other backcountry travelers have observed or reported avalanche activity along this suggested route. See route description for more information. In addition, this route passes through wilderness areas and blue diamond trail markers are not permitted. This, along with the fact that this route is seldom traveled, can make for very difficult route finding and is not recommend for inexperienced or first time hut users.

From the West Lake Creek Trailhead ski a snow-covered road up the east side of Card Creek. Stay on the road as it crosses Card Creek at 1/4 mile, then follows the west side of Card Creek another 3/4 mile to another crossing (8,560 feet). Just past this crossing it is critical to swing back right (SW) to stay in the Card Creek drainage. From here the snow-covered jeep trail climbs the east side of the drainage for 1 1/4 miles to another critical junction at 9,370 feet.

Here you turn right (southwest) off the jeep trail onto the Card Creek Springs foot trail. Follow this trail south then west past Card Creek Springs (not that obvious), then up 500 vertical feet via 4 switchbacks to Card Creek Saddle (9,980 feet). From the saddle follow the 10th Mountain marked route as it drops along the New England Traverse west then northwest into the Squaw Creek drainage to 9,800 feet. Stay on the route as it takes a gradually climbing traverse 1/2 mile, crosses Squaw Creek, then follows the Squaw Creek drainage (crosses creek several more times) up to nondescript Squaw Creek Saddle at the head of the drainage (10,620 feet). The route passes slightly to the east of the low point in the saddle. From Squaw Creek Saddle follow the 10th Mountain marked route another mile southeast to Polar Star Inn and the Seipel Hut.

Locations of Observed or Reported Avalanche Activity: Avalanche activity has been reported along this suggested route at locations indicated below. Elevations indicate approximate elevation where the slides crossed the trail, not the starting zones. Learn more about avalanche hazards here.

  • Approximately 1/2 mile from the trailhead on skier’s right at approximately 8400′. D2

Avalanche size/destructive force is scaled according to the American Avalanche Association as follows:

  • D1 – Relatively harmless to people
  • D2 – Could bury or injure a person
  • D3 – Could bury a car, damage a truck, destroy a wood frame house, or break a few trees
  • D4 – Could destroy a railroad car, large truck, several buildings, or a substantial amount of forest
  • D5 – Could gouge the landscape, largest snow avalanches known


Trailhead Directions

From the I-70 Edwards exit (#163), travel south 1/2 mile to Highway 6. Drive W on Highway 6 for .7 miles to Lake Creek Road. Turn S (left) and drive 1.7 miles to West Lake Creek Road junction. Turn right and continue 1.5 miles to the end of the pavement and another 1.1 miles to the parking area at switchback.