Tomahawk Basin Hiking

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The path less traveled in La Plata Canyon is the old mining road leading to Tomahawk Basin. Some route finding and trail blazing is required but yields huge rewards in the way of views and solitude.

Written by

Maggie Casey


7.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

13.8 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

6 hours

Also good as an overnight


Summer and Fall

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




The hike will continue in a straightforward manner. At one point, a narrow footpath diverts from the trail to give hikers a closer look at an old mine. This can be very steep and not reliable. Overall, sticking to the road is the easier route. Another choice will soon present itself. You can leave the road as it begins to switchback up the hill on the left and continue westward up the basin following a faint footpath that parallels the creek and leads to Tomahawk Basin. You can also continue on the road and find yourself on Diorite Peak (12,761) looking over toward Shark’s Tooth Pass.

What Makes It Great

The solitude is what set Tomahawk Basin apart from the main attraction Kennebec Pass The La Plata Mountains are many layered, but much of it cannot be seen from Highway 160 or the canyon road. The splendor is easy to access but you won’t have to share it.

Wildflowers, waterfalls, and scenic wonders are hard to forget, but Tomahawk Basin has each in abundance that you will be hard pressed to choose a favorite picture. (You must, of course, bring a camera). Following Basin Creek means waterfalls every hundred meters and the roar of the creek does not hush until you begin to climb away from its view. By then you will have other views to ponder.

Who is Going to Love It

Anyone who enjoys a more independent hiking experience, leaving a well-marked trail at times in favor of exploration will love this trail.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The turn for Tomahawk Basin is not marked – it can be easily passed without notice, guarded by the trees and steep canyon walls that only hint at what is hidden around the bend. You wont see jeep tours snapping pictures at the top; in fact, you might not see anyone.

Approximately 6.5 after entering La Plata Canyon (CR 124 from Hwy 160) there will be a rough road on the left that cuts back the opposite direction before following a creek westward. Park on the pullout near this road and begin to hike up it.

Parking is not marked, and there is only room for 1-2 vehicles but you probably won’t be fighting for spots. No permit or fee is required.

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Tomahawk Basin

Durango, CO,
37.424902, -108.043726

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