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A lightly traveled trail that does not see a lot of maintenance. Demanding and rugged in many places. That said, the west end was cutout in July of 2017 by the KRD Trail Crew, and in 2016 the KRD installed some improved signage along the +/-8-mile loop formed by the #169 and #313 trails. The more distant, and easterly, portions of the trail sees little traffic or maintenance.
The more distant reaches of the trail may include areas where route finding is difficult. Trail signs may be lacking and areas of the trail may be obscured due to lack of traffic and heavy growth of grasses and other plants. Suitable for the prepared, self-sufficient, and patient. Expect many trees down and the need to employ good route finding skills.
To reach the trail travel east on East Fork Road from Highway 75 for about 12 miles to the Federal Gulch Campground on the right/south. The trail departs from the east end of the campground road.
Description for following the Federal-Timber Draw Loop:
Head up the Federal Gulch Trail #169 and stay on it where the Timber Draw Trail #313 comes in from the right/south (Note: The sign at this intersection incorrectly calls out the Timber Draw Trail as being Trail #166. It is actually Timber Draw Trail #313.)
Continuing up the Federal Gulch Trail #169, the trail climbs up through the lower, treed-portions of Federal Gulch, utilizing alignments that are sometimes direct, and at other times utilizing switchbacking turns.
After clearing the trees the views become more dramatic as you crest into an open grassy area. The trail gets a little faint and braided in this meadowy environment. Keep heading east toward some larger evergreen trees and the intersection with Timber Draw Trail #313. Turn right onto the #313 trail.
From this intersection, Timber Gulch Trail heads southwest, first traversing up and around an open butte, and then climbing up to a ridge line. After about 0.8 miles on Timber Gulch Trail you will reach the high point of the loop. From here, you continue along the trail, generally following the ridge and trending gently down for about another 0.7 miles; to a spot where there is no intersection, but where it is imperative for a person to turn. This turn is easy to miss because there is no intersection of trails; the trail you have been traveling along just keeps going straight ahead. So, you need to look for several items that act as landmarks for this important turning spot. As you approach this area, look for three things - a dead fan-shaped tree, an old wooden post on the ground, and a brown Carsonite (brown fiberglass-sign) with a US Forest Service "No Motorized Vehicles" sticker on it. Here, turn right/north to head up and over the grassy crest of the hill. Heading north you will soon see a sign post. At the sign post you will find that the Timber Draw Trail #313 is again evident as a singletrack trail. Continue the loop by following the singletrack north and then down Timber Gulch to reconnect with the Federal Gulch Trail and your continued descent back to the trailhead.