- Trail Authorization Status: Unknown
Provides Access to the East Side of Cathedral Lakes Park (from the Susap FSR), South Slopes Cabin, and Juniper Creek Campsight. It Joins the Ewart Creek Trail at its 4.4 KM mark.
Length: 15.9 km
Condition: Continuous beaten path, no deadfall.
General Route: Starts at Junniper Cr, but goes N then NE to traverse above pass north of Flatiron, then climbs E to ridgr crest and contours at 2200m to Joe Lake
How to Find: Hike south up the Ewart creek trail for 4 km. You will come to a bridge to the E side of Ewart Creek. Continue south on Ewart Creek trail a short distance, and you will come to the point where the trail starts. The left fork is the south Slopes trail. A sign with a green horseshoe says "South Slope/ Joe Lake".
Trail Description: Once you are on the South slopes trail, it doubles back to the northwest, and soon crosses Juniper creek on a single log bridge with a cable railing. Horses ford the creek somewhat below. Once on the other side, there is a small campsite for 1-2 tents off to the left of the trail. Soon after that, the trail emerges into the open grasslands of the south slope. The next thousand feet are usually very hot without shade. Eventually after about 1.7 km, you emerge at the small creek shown on the 1:50K map, at about 5000'. Here there are two locked "Fish and Wildlife" cabins. One is a storage cabin, the other is the main cabin. The main cabin is labelled "South Slope" with an orange sign above the door. There is also a 2 meter long feeder hopper. This is used once a year by the hunters to bring in food for the big horn sheep which they hunt in the fall. There is some disagreement with Fish and Wildlife who don't approve of this.
Just beyond the Fish and Wildlife cabins, the trail crosses a tiny trickle of a creek, where there is a water bucket fed by a hose for use by horses. Just beyond the stream is a gate in what the horse people refer to as a "drift fence". Drift fence is a cowboy term loosely used to refer to any fence used to prevent cattle from moving to other areas.
Some distance beyond the drift fence is an A Frame cabin, built by the natives, and open to anybody. It is reasonably clean inside, but not much sleeping room. It has a new looking aluminium roof and a good stove pipe. Beyond here, the trail climbs to pass to the north of Flatiron Peak. There are many flowers in early September, and then sagebrush. Finally the trail gets above treeline at about 2000m and then contours along the south side of Observation Ridge toward Joe Lake. The only water since the Fish and Wildlife cabins is a tiny trickle in the creek just before Joe Lake. It is possible to find level spots for a couple of tents about 50 meters away from the trail, and to the east of the creek. Or continue to much larger meadows around Joe Lake. There is also a square fence just beyond the creek used as an experiment to see what the vegetation would look like if no animals could get it.
Finally the trail ends going around the east side of Joe Lake. There are two cabins at Joe Lake, both open to the first person who gets them. One has a sign which says "Fish and Wildlife Branch Cabin". A larger cabin is to the north of the trail.
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