Back in the mid-'60s, the rolling hills at the crossroads of what is now Dowd Junction were home to a chairlift and a T-bar, known as the # . Developers had aspirations to connect Meadow Mountain to the lifts of Vail, hoping to create a European-style town-to-town ski resort, but the dream of a network of valley-spanning, gondola-served terrain fizzled out, and the lifts stopped running in 1969. Meadow Mountain was sold off to Vail, which deeded the land to the US Forest Service in 1979.
Since then, Meadow Mountain has become a locals’ favorite for non-lift-serviced backcountry ski terrain and sledding in the winter. In the summer, mountain bikers and day hikers navigate its cruisey web of singletrack that crisscrosses aspen glades and passes by the ruins of cabins that belonged to local farmers in the early 20th century, vestiges of Evercrisp Lettuce’s presence here until the company moved to warmer climes in the 1920s. The route to the Line Shack (Meadow Mountain #748) is one of the more popular out-and-backs, traversing 4.5 miles—and about 2,000 vertical feet—up the old ski slopes to a leftover cabin from the Evercrisp days. More seasoned backpackers also can access longer treks nearby (like the Grouse Lake Trail #2127, a 9-mile round-trip haul that gains nearly 3,000 feet before ending at an icy alpine pool at the base of Grouse Mountain; look for the trailhead parking on the right 1.2 miles down the road, just before the Welcome to Minturn sign), but be sure to stop in at the Holy Cross Ranger Station—conveniently located right next to the Meadow Mountain lot—for current information about trail conditions and closures (open Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; fs.usda.gov).