This adventure begins by following the unplowed Summit County Road 851 to the north, gaining a moderate amount of elevation as the road wraps around to the west to enter McCullough Gulch. On a clear day you can enjoy all the surrounding mountains including 14,265-foot Quandry Peak to the south and 13,950-foot Pacific Peak to the north. Quandry Peak was named by some prospectors who were puzzled by minerals found on the mountain's slope. The trail for Quandry Peak will be passed on your left just a little ways after the information signs for this popular climb. If you are looking for some good backcountry skiing or snowboarding, take this cutoff to ascend Quandry Peak and earn some turns off its impressive face. Otherwise continue up the road.
At 1.7 miles take the fork to the left to stay high in the gulch and find the McCullough Gulch Trail marked by a sign that has been over-used for target practice. The trail bends up to the left and leaves the road, becoming a bit steeper as it winds through the ponderosa pines. In about a half mile, after crossing a small bridge, you'll reach an old cabin that belongs to an off-limits mining claim. The trail continues to climb to the right of the cabin and can be taken all the way up into the basin beneath Fletcher Mountain if you are looking for a longer adventure. If not, simply return the same way you came up the gulch to reach to the parking area.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.