The Federal Gulch and Timber Draw loop trail is located about 9 miles to the east of my driveway. For a Fathers day hike I chose this loop trail as I had not previously set foot on it. The girls (Shae and Merry Christmas Dogs) requested they join me. How in 30 years of being in the area, 10 years of living 9 miles directly to its west and hiking on trails to its east and west – I could have missed this gem is embarrassing.
The 7.5 mile loop trail contains the best elements of the best hikes in the region – trail-bed, water, sun, shade, old growth timber, open saddles, flowers and stellar 360 degree views. The hike provides a strenuous workout. However, it is a fair one in that the ascent is steady and the single track trail-bed is smooth and predictable for its entirety.
A three mile ascent up the Federal Creak drainage trail (#169) places you in a saddle just below Grays Peak (10,563 ft) where it meets the Timber Draw trail (#313). The gain is about 2,300 vertical and has you standing at about 9,100 feet. The Timber Draw trail traverses up and down on the saddle like ridge-line west-southwest for about 2 miles and then descends through heavily timbered canyon for 2.5 miles back to the trail-head. The views are 360 degrees in most places. The trail tops out at about 9,300 feet. To the north are the Pioneer Mountains that reach 12,000+ feet. To the south is the expanse of drainage that feed the Little Wood River.
It is clear to me that this loop has the advantage of not being heavily traveled. Therefore it is close, but out of the way.