5,090 acres (8 square miles)
Elliot Ridge is a high, rocky divide on the crest of the Gore Range. It is a prominent spine of Precambrian granite. Its steep talus and screefields fall away into rolling hills blanketed in lodgepole pine forests that have seen some historic logging. The terrain here consists of the northern crest of Elliot Ridge and part of the Elliot Creek drainage that flows northeast into the Blue River, just below the dam of Green Mountain Reservoir. The elevation ranges from 8,600 feet at Elliot Creek to 11,645 feet on Elliot Ridge.
What’s special about it
Ecology: The proposed Elliot Ridge Addition to the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area contains excellent summer range for big game. As a result, this area supports large herds of elk and mule deer. The animals use this landscape as a movement corridor between lower-elevation BLM lands in the Colorado River basin to the north, and higher-elevation mountains in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area to the south. The Mahan Lake area is high priority wildlife habitat, and contains a large population of a very rare plant species, the brown lady slipper.
The area also provides habitat for a wide variety of animal species: black bear (overall range); elk (overall and severe winter range), lynx (potential habitat), moose (overall and severe winter range), mountain lion (overall range), mule deer (overall and severe winter range), wild turkey (overall range), Colorado River cutthroat trout, boreal toad (aquatic habitat).
Recreation: The proposed Elliot Ridge Wilderness Area is an important destination for hunters in the autumn, and it acts as a natural buffer between the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and the heavily-logged lodgepole pine for¬ests to the north of the proposed Area. The proposed Wilderness Area receives little summer use, and provides excellent opportunities to experience solitude year-round.
Logging: Numerous recent timber sales along the roads that access this area have dramatically altered the natural qualities of the forests there. The maze of obliterated roads will take many years to recover.
Motor recreation: The area is vulnerable to irresponsible and desructive off-road vehicle use.
Division of Wildlife habitat qualities, species of significance
This area supports a strain Colorado River Cutthroat trout. Eliot Ridge also contains elk winter range and production areas.
Hidden Gems Campaign continues to meet with snowmobile groups about adjustments of the area.
The proposed Elliot Ridge Wilderness Area is one of 12 Roadless Areas that are contiguous with the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, which together forms a roadless complex of over 168,000 acres (262 square miles).
How to get there
The proposed Elliot Ridge Addition to the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area is located two miles southwest of Heeney and the Green Mountain Reservoir. The primary public access to this area is from County Road (CR) 10, which begins off of State Highway 9 about 3 miles north of Green Mountain Reservoir.
- CR 10 becomes FS 23 (improved dirt) at the forest boundary. Just inside the boundary, the first road to branch off to the left of FS 23 is Lower Spring Creek Road (FS 1832; improved dirt). This winds through a vast maze of closed and obliterated timber roads, and eventually just ends in an abrupt fashion (take signs to "End of Road"). From here, you may locate the Gore Range Trail (60) that enters the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area through the proposed Elliot Ridge Wilderness Area.
- The second road to branch of to the left of FS 23 (about 2.5 miles past FS 1832) is the Mahan Lake Road (FS 1831; improved dirt). This road passes through an area of intensive logging on its way to the Elliot Ridge Trailhead (1895). This trail climbs south along Elliot Ridge into the Eagles Nest Wilderness. It is the main trail in the area. Beyond here, FS 1831 becomes rougher and eventually ends at a trailhead that provides access to the Mahan Lake/Elliot Creek area.
- Just past the turnoff to Mahan Lake Road (FS 1831), FS 23 turns into Sheep Mountain Road (FS 202; high clearance) at the divide just south of Sheep Mountain. FS 202 drops down to Sheephorn Creek to meet Sheephorn Road (FS 753), which travels south along the western boundary of the unit, and meets the Wilderness boundary at the head of Sheephorn Creek.
- From Heeney, access is blocked by private land.
- The USGS 7 1⁄2' quads for the proposed Elliot Ridge Wilderness Area are Piney Peak and Mount Powell.