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Margy's Hut

ELEVATION: 11,300 feet
HUTSKI.COM FREE MAPS:FREE HUTSKI.COM MAPS: Margy's (see below), Lenado, Norrie, Granite
UTM: 352199 E, 4348724 N
Degrees: 39.275327,-106.713491 (exact on Google Maps)
TRAILHEADS: Lenado Granite Lakes Norrie
USGS 7.5 min. MAPS: Aspen, Thimble Rock, Meredith

Margy's Hut backcountry skiing.

Located on a lightly timbered hillside just below timberline, Margy's Hut has beautiful views of the Elk Mountains to the south. Hut construction was funded by Robert McNamara (former secretary of defense) and friends, in memorial to his wife Margy McNamara.

You'll find good downhill skiing close to this hut, and several fine branch routes lead to surrounding mountains. Mount Yeckel to the north is the most popular place for downhill skiing, and when the southerly facing snowpack is in good shape, a fine run drops from the front porch of the hut.

For ski-throughs to the north from Margy's Hut, most skiers use the Aspen/Norrie trail Twin Meadows route which drops into the Fryingpan River drainage.

See our Betty Bear Hut and Harry Gates hut pages for more information about the Fryingpan River drainage. Ski-throughs south from Margy's usually follow Spruce Creek. The shortest route from a trailhead to Margy's Hut climbs from Lenado via Johnson Creek.


Margy's Hut map below connects to Norrie on the top (north), and Lenado on the left (west). If you have trouble viewing the map below, please try our PDF version. Remember that all HutSki.com free topo maps are large and detailed, and thus may take time to download after you click the links.

Lenado Trailhead—Margy's Hut via Johnson Creek Trail
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
FREE HUTSKI.COM TOPO MAPS: Lenado, Margy's Hut (see above)
TIME: 5 1/2 hours up, 4 hours down
DISTANCE: 6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,660 feet

This 10th Mountain suggested route is the "Interstate Highway" to Margy's Hut. It is well marked and follows distinct road-cuts and trails.

On the trail from Lenado to Margy's Hut.

From Lenado Trailhead parking, continue up the obvious main road by foot or ski. About 1/3 mile from parking you'll pass Spruce Creek Trailhead, and a few feet after that you'll cross an automobile bridge. Stay on the wide road-cut of the main road for 1 mile to a distinct switchback hairpin (9,065 feet). Put your skins on here. Just before the switchback turn right off the main road onto the Johnson Creek Trail and climb a fairly steep hill. The Johnson Creek Trail follows an ill defined road-cut on the east side of Silver Creek. At 9,270 feet turn right (E) out of the Silver Creek drainage and follow a sidehill trail that climbs (with several switchbacks) 1 1/2 miles up Johnson Creek to another distinct snow-covered road at 10,480 feet.

Turn right (S) on this obvious road which leads slightly downhill and level for 1/4 mile (leave your skins on) around a shoulder, then gradually climbs for 2 miles to 11,040 feet. Here the 10th Mountain suggested route takes a left fork (switchback) and climbs N for 180 vertical feet to a timbered saddle. From the saddle ski several hundred feet N and intersect another snow-covered road on the north side of the saddle. Turn right (E) on this road and follow it for 1/2 mile as it traverses north-facing terrain. Just before the road makes a turn N, leave the road and ski SE through a clearing, then a short distance downhill to the hut. The hut is not visible until you are several hundred feet away.

The point where Johnson Creek Trail leaves the road is marked by a sign and blue diamond. Such signs may be missing or covered with snow, thus making your GPS useful.

Many skiers like to take a more direct route from the 11,040-foot elevation. To do so, simply stay on the jeep trail as marked on the topographic map, then deviate slightly to contour the south side of the bump west of the hut, then traverse to the hut. Take care not to drop below the hut. (Use your altimeter).

REVERSE ROUTE DESCRIPTION: From the northeast side of Margy's Hut ski NW up a short hill, then continue a few hundred feet to intersect a distinct snow-covered road. Follow this road SW for 1/2 mile, then turn left to leave the road and climb over a low saddle. Ski 180 vertical feet down the south side of the saddle. Try to stay on the 10th Mountain marked route. If your downhill speed forces you to deviate, just be sure to get back on the trail as it turns S then W, then gradually drops (with a few level sections and a short uphill) 2 miles to the head of Johnson Creek. Ski the trail down Johnson Creek into Silver Creek, then to the Lenado Trailhead.

SAFETY NOTES: This is a well-marked trail. Nevertheless, you will be traversing steep, heavily timbered mountainsides, where losing the route could be grim. While most of the trail is free of avalanche danger, there is one obvious steep gulch you cross while in the Johnson Creek drainage. Avalanches are rare here, but parties should still use standard precautions.

SUMMER: Trails in this area provide good cycling, hiking, and horse riding. Cycling up the Johnson Creek route is quite strenuous, but it is a terrific advanced downhill. Cyclists should consider using the Larkspur Mountain Road for the trip up.

Lenado Trailhead — Margy's Hut via Spruce Creek
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
FREE HUTSKI.COM TOPO MAPS: Lenado, Margy's Hut (see above)
TIME: 6 hours up, 4 hours down
DISTANCE: 6 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,660 feet

As a route between trailhead and hut, this alternate trail is less popular than the Johnson Creek trail, mostly because the lower 1 1/2 miles of trail is not marked by 10th Mountain and not cleared for skiing. For just those reasons you'll find more wilderness solitude on this route. Use climbing skins for the ascent.

From the Spruce Creek Trailhead ski past trailhead signs near the road and continue up the Woody Creek drainage. Basically, the best route follows that of the summer pack trail which is indicated by its cut through the timber. Snow cover and low branches, however, may dictate custom route-finding. Using navigation tools such as map and GPS, spot Cliff Creek's confluence with Woody Creek. Continue up Woody Creek, and at the next confluence, that of Spruce Creek and Woody Creek (9,440 feet), find the marked 10th Mountain trail junction on the north side of Woody Creek. From the junction ski N then NE up the well-defined and marked Spruce Creek Trail. You have a long pull ahead of you, as the trail follows the Spruce Creek drainage 3 1/4 miles and 1,560 vertical feet to 11,000 feet in the west end of Sawmill Park.

When you enter Sawmill Park, keep a sharp eye out for another trail fork to the left. Many parties miss this fork. If you have trouble, the trick is to identify Sawmill Park with adroit map reading and GPS use. Stay at the lower (west) end of the park and carefully search out the 10th Mountain junction markers on a couple of medium-sized evergreens. Your altimeter can really help here, as would a GPS unit (see HutSki map for cords). If you ski more than about 50 feet into Sawmill Park you are past the junction. From the junction follow the spur trail W then SW as it makes a long 1 3/4-mile climbing traverse up to the hut. The hut is usually visible several hundred yards before you reach it, but it may be hidden by snow on heavy snow years, with just the upper front windows showing.

REVERSE ROUTE: Reverse the route above, down Spruce Creek to Woody Creek. Descend on the north side of Woody Creek. At the Cliff Creek confluence cross to the south side of Woody Creek and continue down Woody Creek to the road and auto bridge mentioned above. Take a left at the road and ski the road to the Lenado Trailhead.

SAFETY NOTES: Bank sluffs are rare but possible on the steep sides of the Woody Creek drainage. These slopes are easy to skirt. This route includes two major junctions on what has been called the "Hidden Marker Trail" by frustrated skiers. Remember that, due to its location within designated wilderness, the trail is marked with tree blazes.

SUMMER: This route is fine for horseback riding or hiking. Most of the route is within designated wilderness, so cyclists should use other trails such as the Larkspur Mountain Road (as shown on our HutSki topo map).

Norrie Trailhead—Margy's Hut via Twin Meadows
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
FREE HUTSKI.COM MAPS: Lenado, Norrie, Margy's Hut (see above)
TIME: 8 hours up, 6 1/2 hours down
DISTANCE: 7 1/2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,917 feet; loss: 57 feet

[this route field checked by HutSki, 10/07]

While adventurous skiers might find other routes from the Fryingpan drainage to Margy's Hut, this 10th Mountain suggested route is the most popular line. You can also begin this route at the Diamond J or Granite Lakes trailheads, but the Norrie Trailhead works best.

Consider starting this route with nordic wax instead of climbing skins. From snow closure at the Norrie Trailhead ski up through aspen forests on the well-defined cut of the South Fork Road (FS road # 504). Stay on the road as it makes two switchbacks, then a 2 1/4 mile climbing traverse to intersect with an obvious spur that turns right (W) and leads 1/4 mile through conifer forest to Twin Meadows, a reclaimed gravel pit with two small lakes. Take the spur to Twin Meadows.

Stay to the north end of Twin Meadows, and ski around the north side of the north lake. Follow the west shore of the north lake, then enter the forest on the obscure summer trailcut for the Aspen/Norrie trail. There is a sign here but it may be covered by snow. Follow the Aspen/Norrie trail as it leads out of Twin Meadows on the north side of Deeds Creek, then crosses Deeds Creek and climbs into Foster Gulch. The trail parallels Foster Creek for 1/2 mile, then begins to turn W away from Foster Creek at 9,920 feet, and climbs W to 10,240 feet. From here you swing S then W to meadows at 10,400 feet.

From the meadows a steep climb leads over a divide (11,057 feet) and into Sawmill Park. Enjoy the view of the Elk Mountains from Sawmill Park and ski down to the lower (west) end of the park. At the lower end of Sawmill Park (11,000 feet) find the Margy's Hut trail which leaves from the north side of the park. It is easy to miss this fork. If you have trouble here, the trick is to identify Sawmill Park with adroit map reading, then stay on the north side of the park and ski to the west end where you search out the 10th Mountain junction markers on a couple of medium-sized evergreens. Your altimeter can really help here, and a GPS is highly recommended if you don't know the trail (see Hutski.com map for coordinates).

Once you find the junction, leave Sawmill Park and follow the Margy's Hut Trail W then SW as it makes a long 1 3/4-mile climbing traverse up to the hut. Margy's Hut is usually visible several hundred yards before you reach it, but it may be hidden by snow on heavy snow years, with just the upper front windows visible.

REVERSE ROUTE: Skiing this route from Margy's to the trailhead is simple. The traverse from Margy's Hut drops you into Sawmill Park, where you can find the marked trail by simply skiing to the saddle at the upper (east) end of the park. You then ski a well-marked trail down Foster Gulch and along Deeds Creek to Twin Meadows. Ski NE then N along the west side of Twin Meadows, then N through trees until you hit the distinct snow-covered road that traverses N to the Norrie Trailhead.

SAFETY NOTES: Most trail markers on this route are tree blazes because of legal wilderness. There is no avalanche danger. The long walk through the forest can lull you into a trance, so take extra care in Sawmill Park to find the correct route.

SUMMER: Hikers and equestrians will enjoy this route. Cyclists are not permitted due to designated wilderness.

Granite Lakes Trailhead—Margy's Hut
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
HUTSKI.COM FREE TOPO MAPS: Granite, Lenado, Norrie, Margy's Hut (see above)
TIME: 9 hours up, 7 hours down
DISTANCE: 8 3/4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,740 feet; loss: 200 feet

This seldom traveled route uses most of the same trail as the standard route from Norrie described above. It has slightly less elevation gain, but more miles. Begin at the Granite Lakes Trailhead with skins and follow the marked trail that leads around the lake. Ski the trail SW another 500 feet to a foot bridge over a small creek (8,800 feet). Cross the creek, then swing W and climb 1/4 mile up a steep gulch to a flat area (9,010 feet). The South Fork of the Fryingpan River will be directly in front of you at the bottom of a shallow gulch. Turn left (S then SW) and follow a trail-cut that parallels the South Fork for just under 1/4 mile to cross the South Fork (no bridge) at 9,050 feet.

After crossing the South Fork, the trail winds W then SW for several hundred yards to a vague Y split. Here one trail continues up the South Fork of the Fryingpan, while the one you want climbs to the right (W) up a small hill, then winds 1/3 mile (light uphill) through conifer and aspen to a major road (9,150 feet). If you lose the trail here, just continue W and you'll intersect the road. Once you're on the road (road number 504.1), you simply follow snow-covered roads W for 3 1/4 miles to intersect The standard Norrie/Aspen trail at Twin Meadows (see route from Norrie described above).

There are no overt dangers on this route, but skiers should note the length of the trail and plan accordingly.

This route is a fine hike or horse ride. The section of trail from road 504.1 down to the ranch is a rough bicycle downhill, and mostly a portage in the opposite direction. The network of dirt roads makes for fabulous cycling.

Margy's Hut to McNamara Hut via Spruce Creek
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
FREE HUTSKI.COM MAPS: Lenado, Margy's Hut (see above)
TIME: 6 hours
DISTANCE: 8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 920 feet; loss: 1,860 feet

Good downhill skiers will find this 10th Mountain suggested route is one of the quicker hut to hut routes. Novice downhillers, however, should plan on slow movement through challenging terrain down Spruce Creek.

ROUTE DESCRIPTION: From the east side of Margy's Hut, climb NE up a short hill and follow the marked (tree blazes) 10th Mountain suggested route as it makes a long traverse into Sawmill Park. Expert parties have reported skiing directly SE from the hut down into the Spruce Creek drainage, but they encountered difficult timber towards the bottom. All but the most expert skiers should stick to the trail.

When you enter Sawmill Park, turn immediately right (W) and begin your descent SW down Spruce Creek on a 10th Mountain suggested route with standard tree-blaze markings. This section of trail is relatively straightforward. Ski 3 miles down Spruce Creek to the intersection with the Woody Creek Trail (9,440 feet). Take care to identify this junction. Turn left (E) onto the Woody Creek Trail (still marked by blazes) and follow the north side of Woody Creek 1 mile to 9,900 feet. Cross Woody Creek.

Due to the well-maintained and marked 10th Mountain suggested route from here to the McNamara Hut, orienteering is easier above this point, but skiers addicted to blue diamonds will still have to squint as they look for tree blazes since this is in legal wilderness. After crossing Woody Creek, stay on the trail as it makes a switchback to the W, climbing up the south side of the Woody Creek drainage. Follow the switchback 1/2 mile W into a shallow gulch, then turn S and continue on the marked trail as it climbs the gulch to 10,240 feet. Here the trail turns and begins a westerly, gradually climbing traverse 2 miles to the McNamara Hut. The hut is visible from several hundred yards away.

Watch for possible bank-sluff danger on the steep sides of the Woody Creek drainage. Ski in control while descending Spruce Creek.

Because of wilderness designation, cyclists are not allowed on this route. Hikers will find all the trails described above to be good, but they should note that the section between the McNamara Hut and Woody Creek is not a tread, it is just a marked route for winter skiing. Horse riders should note the same.

Margy's Hut Regional Skiing

Mount Yeckel from Margy's Hut
DIFFICULTY: Int./Advanced
TIME:1/2 day round trip
DISTANCE: 2 1/4 miles round trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 465 feet round trip
FREE HUTSKI.COM MAPS: Margy's, Lenado, Norrie, Granite

Backcountry sking below Margy's Hut.

Good views, plenty of downhill skiing, close to the hut: could you ask for more? This is the most popular branch route from Margy's Hut, and it includes something for everyone.

From the back of Margy's Hut ski the 10th Mountain marked trail about 200 yards to a distinct snow-covered road. Instead of following the 10th Mountain route left (W), turn right and travel the general route of the road N through an open area, then E over point 11,648. From here follow a snow-covered jeep trail NE down a short hill, then up to the summit of Mount Yeckel. The return is via the same route. You'll find excellent downhill skiing in the north-facing bowl of point 11,648; this is known as Yeckel Bowl. There is also good skiing off the summit of Mount Yeckel down the open west face; this is called the West Face of Yeckel.

There is ski touring on this route for any ability level. All downhillers should ski with care; avalanches are common in Yeckel Bowl. The West Face is slightly less avalanche prone. Stay away from Yeckel's steep, cliff-studded northeast face. See this CIAC avalanche report about a dangerous avalanche on Mount Yeckel.

An excellent hike or horseback ride. Expert cyclists will enjoy it as well, but they should note the wilderness boundary just a few feet south of the jeep trail.

Peak 12,234 from Margy's Hut
TIME: 5 hours round trip
DISTANCE: 7 miles round trip
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,534 feet round trip
FREE HUTSKI.COM MAPS: Margy's Hut, Norrie (see links above)

While enjoying the view from the Margy's Hut picture window (or outhouse), many a mountaineer has pondered Peak 12,234. While not the accessible ski area that Mount Yeckel is, Peak 12,234 has good views, a bit of turning on the way back down, and plentiful navigation practice. Ski from Margy's Hut to Sawmill Park (see routes above). Put your skins on here. From the park use your map and compass to ski SE to point 11,250. This area is densely timbered, so don't expect any definitive landmarks. From point 11,250 climb SE up a broad timbered ridge; your goal is the large meadows northwest of peak 11,904. Ski to 11,400 feet at the bottom of the meadows. Next, climb the southwest edge of the meadows to the 11,650-foot saddle west of point 11,904. Climb the ridge to the summit of Peak 12,234. Return via the same route.

Though the route above has little or no avalanche danger, there is plenty of slide terrain on the sides of Peak 12,234. Thus, groups planning "adult" skiing should carry avalanche transceivers and know their avalanche safety techniques.

Due to heavy timber with no trail-cut or tread, this route would be a poor choice for summer travel.

This book goes great with our maps, highly recommended for any hut skier.
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Please note: The information in this website is based on the experience and research of the site owners and their sources, may not be accurate, and might not be perceived as accurate by other persons. Therefore, extreme care should be taken when following any of the backcountry skiing 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts routes described in this website. This website is not intended to be instructional but rather is a guide for backcountry users who already have the requisite training, experience, and knowledge for the activities they choose. An advanced level of expertise and physical conditioning is necessary for even the "easiest" of the routes and activities described herein. Proper clothing and equipment is essential. Failure to have the necessary knowledge, equipment, and conditioning will subject you to physical danger, injury, or death. Some backcountry skiing routes for 10th Mountain Huts, Summit Huts and Braun Huts have changed and others will change; avalanche hazards may have expanded or new hazards may have formed since this website's publication.

Mission statement: The mission of HutSki.com is to provide backcountry skiers and other Colorado hut users with a complete set of high quality free topo maps, plentiful how-to information, and brief route descriptions that include alternate routes as well as standard trails.