Snowball Creek to Jackson Mountain Summit

This 14.88-mile "lollipop" loop has something for everyone.  The route detailed has 3,058 feet of total ascent if you ride to the summit of Jackson Mountain (a "hill" by Rocky Mountain standards).

You can choose to bike from Pagosa Springs and add 4.2 miles (one way) to the route described below - making it a 23-mile ride.  The ride from town starts with an easy, scenic, rural asphalt & gravel road.  Once you reach the Hershey Ranch (where the mileages below begin), you ride on a fairly flat, dirt, jeep road following the creek that everyone in the family can ride and enjoy. 

At the end of the road you need to ford Snowball Creek, so it is wise to wait for spring run offs to slow down before doing this ride.  After  you cross Snowball Creek, you are on slightly steeper and rougher jeep roads.  Finally, stepping it up another notch, you climb a fairly demanding single-track to the summit.  

Ride whichever portion meets your level of interest and ability.  The reward for persevering to the top of Jackson Mountain is one of the sweetest single-track descents (through aspen groves) in the Pagosa Springs area.  

This ride is a local favorite partly because of its closeness and accessibility, and partly because of the scenic beauty of the ride.


Be aware that the "Snowball Creek to Jackson Mountain Summit" route does not have any directional signage.  This is a local “social trail.”  Go there with a Boy Scout mindset:  be prepared with map, compass,
GPS, extra clothing, cell phone, water and whatever else you’ll need to stay safe in the forest.

Snowball Creek to Jackson Mountain Trail Notes

By Car or Bike:

  • In Pagosa Springs, turn north on N. 2nd Street (by the Forest Service office).  2nd Street becomes Snowball Road.  Drive (or ride) 4.2 miles.  Park along the road at the entrance to the Hershey Ranch.  The mileages below begin at the gate to the Hershey Ranch.


  • Reset your bike computer/GPS unit at the entrance gate to the Hershey Ranch.
  • Ride through the ranch, respecting the private property on both sides of the road.
  • At 1 mile, you come to a fork in the road and a metal gate on the right fork.  Go through the gate – closing it behind you.
  • The road drops down and follows Snowball Creek.
  • At mile 4.3 you ford Snowball Creek and follow a jeep road on the other side of the creek.
  • At mile 5.26 you pass a large, old-growth ponderosa on your left.  There is a single-track shortcut here if you want to take it.  Otherwise stay on the jeep road, which is badly deteriorated in places.  (You can see these diverging route on the TOPO! Map.)
  • At mile 5.59 (mileage calculated following the jeep road) you come to a road junction.  Turn right onto FR 738 E.
  • At mile6.88 you reach the end of the road.  Continue straight and pick up a single tack that loops to the right and climbs the hill.
  • At mile 7.69 you arrive at the summit of Jackson Mountain.  Stop for a snack, catch your breath and enjoy the view.
  • The trail follow the top of the ridge for a short ways then loops right and begins a wonderful descent through the aspens.
  • At mile 9.03 you intersect FR 738 E that you climbed earlier.  Turn left and retrace your route.
  • At mile 9.45 you reach the FR 738 E junction you passed through earlier.  Continue to retrace your route back to your vehicle.
  • At mile 14.88 you arrive back at the gate to the Hershey Ranch.

The map below shows the location of the 
Hershey Ranch Gate on Snowball Road.
Note:  You should be able to manipulate the Google map, below, to zoom in, click and drag, and see different terrain and satellite images.

Hershey Ranch Gate

Note:  To download and print the map below (and/or the route instructions) see the attached PDF files at the bottom of this page.


Tom Steen,
Jun 18, 2010, 9:11 PM
Tom Steen,
Jun 18, 2010, 9:12 PM