Far from 14ers, but replete with 12ers, low 13ers, and high alpine lakes, the South San Juan Wilderness offers solitude for those who are willing to find it. There is a sign post at SJ-16 announcing Blue Lake in a quarter mile. The Never Summer wilderness is located immediately west of Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado. Click on image to access full size maps and download them. Although printed in black and white, the maps and detailed trail descriptions are worth the money you spend on this paperback. Backpacking The South San Juan Wilderness - "Epic" Loop Hike - Duration: 26:57. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. You should be able to right click the file and save it on your computer. As of July 16, 2013 most of the trails in the Weiminuche Wilderness area of the San Juan National Forest are now open. Other Ouachita Hikes: Beech Creek Trails - Buckeye Trail - Caney Creek Area - Caney Creek Trail - Eagle Rock Loop The following regulations are in … To get a view from the bottom you need to either take the main trail further down and cut back, or look for the informal trail where you can scramble down. You get to FR 247 from FR 250, about a mile northwest of Platoro. Been looking for decent 20-40 mile loops/lassos in Northern NM and seems like for our interests (lakes w/ fishing, alpine, valleys), there are more options in South San Juan Wilderness just north in Colorado. There are a lot of social trails on the southwest side. I heard about 4 groups near the 2nd lake. Colorado Maybe it's the jagged 13,000-foot peaks clawing the sky that make the area seem so raw and foreboding. Ford the Conejos River here. It is still possible that grizzlies inhabit remote areas of the South San Juan Wilderness. The forest roads are in black and based on aerial and satellite imagery. There is a sign on one of the few trees announcing the CDT arrows to Elwood Pass and Blue Lake and a post marked 712 a little further down hill (SJ-19, N37.27784 W106.67919). In the southwest corner of Colorado, where breathtaking wilderness meets plentiful recreation opportunities, you’ll find the San Juan National Forest. Blue Lake Loop - South San Juan Wilderness. . On September 23, 1979 a sow grizzly was killed near Blue Lake by a bow hunter. Cut through the old campsite (marked as no camping allowed), wrap around the south tip of the lake, follow the obvious trail slanting up the hill, pass the campsite and fire ring and head north. In addition to a beautiful hike, the fishing in all three lakes can be superb. South San Juan Wilderness Area Government information and links are at the bottom of this page. Make it even longer by going up to the Adams Fork Trail (713) and come out on FR 247 a mile and a half north of the trailhead parking lot. Then open it with Google Earth to see the entire loop in interactive 3-D. You can also load this on top of the wilderness dataset found on the South San Juan page. So in 1979, while hunting just across the Continental Divide from Blue Lake, a grizzly was the farthest thing from Ed Wiseman’s mind — until a bear he had accidentally cornered on a ridge burst from the bushes and severely mauled him. South San Juan Wilderness Specific Regulations. Courtesy of Jack Brauer. https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/colorado/south-san-juan-wilderness To view an updated list of trail. The creek is braided but it still took a little searching for a place to cross dry. Blue Lake. Go straight on FR 247 and drive 6.3 miles until it ends at the Three Forks Trailhead (the Platoro Reservoir will be on your left most of this section). The area is unusually isolated and difficult to traverse, thanks to eroded volcanic rocks that created seemingly impenetrable ridges and canyons. OuachitaMaps.com - Hiking Trails of the Ouachitas and Ozarks. Following 724 will lead to the South Fork Trailhead (used for the Conejos Peak Loop (video)) and offers access to Glacier Lake and Conejos Peak. The loop is shown in red and is based on the GPS track taken on the hike. The little meadow that surrounds the junction is also a campsite. Situated south of Platoro Reservoir, this 17.7 mile hike offers a mix of wooded valleys, alpine meadows and a an exhilerating stretch of the Continental Divide Trail. Sneffels, as well as … Twin Crater Lakes, Rawah Wilderness Area Roosevelt National Forest Date Hiked: July 12-13, 2014 Distance: 13.6 mi (RT) Elevation Gain: 3,717 ft Elevation Min/Max: 8,578 to 11,085 ft Trailhead Lat/Long: 40º 40' 44" N; 105º 51' 16 It's known as Co The La Jara-Platoro section is a good road but it was curvy, slow and sometimes narrow. At about mile 7.7, the trail leaves the meadow and enters the forest. While there are several options they all require over an hour on gravel roads. The combination of high mountain meadows accented by the spruce forest gives a very soft and serene feel. Waypoints SJ-20 to SJ-21. This is especially true early in the season when it might be a little boggy. The trail follows the lake and just before you reach the northwest corner, it splits. It can be done as an out-and-back from either the Mt. Sat, Jul 25, 2009, 6:00 AM: Big Mountains in the Summertime!This will be a 5-day, 4-night backpacking trip (plus 2 travel days) in the scenic South San Juan Wilderness in SW Colorado. Flat and grassy surrounded by a lush forest. Weatherproof Topographic Maps at Camping, campfires, and restraining or grazing of recreational livestock are NOT permitted within 200 feet of Bear Lake, Blue Lake, Green Lake, and Red Lake. Stay on the CDT at SJ-19 and go over the nose that separates Middle and North Fork. It gets a bit of wear so in many areas it is a braided trail. In a 0.1 miles, cross the Conejos River. The trailhead is at the south end of a very large parking area. The South San Juan Wilderness is the least visited wilderness in Colorado. After another 0.1 mile of downed trees and hoof damage, the trail enters a long meadow. . Aug 16, 2020 near Pagosa…, CO. This short trail is used to get to the Middle Fork Conejos River Trail, North Fork Conejos River Trail, and El Rito Azul Trail - all of which connect you to the Continental Divide Trail. A 4 day backpacking adventure into Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness. 7 years ago. 250 is really well kept for a dirt road, probably due to the traffic. After the junctions you will be on the south side of the Continental Divide, with some great view of the upper stretches of the Navajo River Valley. A short scenic drive along the San Juan Skyway on Highway 45 south of Telluride leads past Trout Lake to Lizard Head Pass (10,222-ft.) where you can enjoy views of Lizard Head’s distinctive lone spire rising 400-ft. above itsOphir The other one circles to the left and dies out at the outlet stream. Eagles Nest Wilderness falls within the jurisdiction of Dillon Ranger District and Holy Cross Ranger District, White River National Forest. Don't miss the small waterfall in the creek from Lake Ann. . Saw about 3 groups over 3 days on the trail. It offers some nice views of the surrounding meadows (video) and easy access to Blue Lake (video). The purple trail is the Continental Divide Trail. If you look at the Excel spreadsheet of the trip mileage, you'll see there is a work sheet for a slightly longer trip. You will lose that 550 feet in 0.9 miles. Blue Lake Loop, South San Juan Wilderness, CO. The trails in blue and purple are other trails in the area and are from the Forest Service GIS database. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from July until September. Once you get to the head of the valley the trail gets lost in all the grass. Blue Lake Loop. The rocky formations of the San Juan Mountains, lush alpine greenery and crystal waters truly make Emerald Lake a sight to behold. The trailhead for Crater Lake is a fair distance off any major highway - roughly 18 miles off of US Highway 160 - in close proximity to relatively unknown Elwood Pass (Forest Road 380). One area that is remote and pristine is the San Juan Wilderness in the Rio Grande National Forest. Sneffels trailhead (outside of Ouray; see link) or by the more popular Dallas Creek Trail (the direction described here). It is also the junction of the South Fork Trail, #724. The lake lives up to its name - it supports a healthy cutthroat trout population thanks to its depth, adequate drainage area, and remoteness. I think the Conejos loop as described by u/thehappyheathen is the classic multi-day route down there. The section of the CDT between Blue Lake and Fish Lake Trail junction (video) (SJ-17, N37.25239 W106.63492) is one of my favorites. I have a trip coming up the week of August 19th, my current plan is to hike the Elk Creek/Valle Victoria loop in the South San Juan Wilderness. Keep climbing to Blue Lake Pass at 11,010 feet and to surrounding 12,000-foot ridges where you’ll be rewarded with liberal views of Rocky Mountain National Park to the south. OuachitaMaps.com - Hiking Trails of the Ouachitas and Ozarks Worth Noting About the Conejos River Headwaters Loop: The last grizzly bear in Colorado was killed near Blue Lake in 1979. This will be a 5-day, 4-night backpacking trip (plus 2 travel days) in the scenic South San Juan Wilderness in SW Colorado. Dogs are also able to use this trail. Chama, NM Intermediate. South San Juan Wilderness Day Four – Blue Lake to Middle Fork of the Conejos River (aka the day of the flying dog) : Liz and I adopted this canine from the Boulder Humane Society, Emma, that will forever be a free spirit. Most had conveniently recessed from the trail but there were several smaller ones that required kick stepping. Within a 100 feet or so you will pass a trail marker for #718 and then a sign for the Continental Divide Trail, #813. The last grizzly bear in Colorado was killed by a hunter in 1977. Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Your best bet is the follow the trail west from the SJ-16 signpost (heads up hill) to the lake. The trail stays in heavy the forest for about 1.6 miles. Direction: From Antonito CO take Highway 17 west for 22.5 miles. Hiking Colorado’s Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness Areas Donna Ikenberry’s book is an excellent resource for hiking and backpacking trip planners. Created on December 22, 1980, when President Carter signed Public Law 96-560, the 127,721-acre South San Juan Wilderness is a geographically remote and primal territory. The crossing was boulder hopping. Blue Lake Backpack. It's known as Colorado's wildest corner with … Courtesy of Jack Brauer. After that, it follows the edge of another long meadow. The Hike. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Track of the Loop: This link is to a Google Earth KML track file of the Blue Lake loop. 1) Intermediate. The trail soon enters the forest to begin a 1,200 foot climb to Blue Lake. The San Juan Mountaineers designated S4 … Blue Lakes are set in a scenic glacial basin within the 16,505 acre Mount Sneffels Wilderness. With terrain ranging from high-desert mesas to alpine peaks, there are miles of scenic back roads, hundreds of campsites, and a … Read More In late June there were still some good sizes snow fields. Follow FR 247 to the end, passing Platoro Reservoir on your left. It also leads to a stunning alpine lake, Blue Lake FR 250 almost makes a "C" starting west of La Jara (between Alamosa and Antonito), going west to Platoro, south past the South Fork Trailhead (Conejos Peak Loop) and out on Highway 17. It is easy to spot because you will be hiking next to a meadow, enter the trees and find a trailside campsite on your right. 30.6 mi 49.2 km #12 CDT: New Mexico Border to Blue Lake (CO Sec. Another 0.3 miles takes you to Three Forks junction (SJ-15) where you close the loop. The trail will enter the forest again at the top of the elevation gain and come back out into meadow as you near SJ-16 (mile 5.5, N37.23926 W106.62530). There are several primitive camp sites around the Lake that offer panoramic views of the lake and surrounding countryside. Situated south of Platoro Reservoir, this 17.7 mile hike offers a mix of wooded valleys, alpine meadows and a an exhilerating stretch of the Continental Divide Trail. The hike begins at the Conejos trailhead southwest of Platoro Reservoir in Conejos County. South San Juan Wilderness, Colorado. About a 0.1 of a mile before the North Fork crossing, there is a beautiful campsite back the left (west). Blue Lake is pretty with its clear water and back drop of small bluffs of volcanic rock. ... #5 - Green Lake to Blue Lake Loop off 250. Waypoints SJ-16 to SJ-17 The Maps: The maps are true 1:24,000 scale based on the USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles. The section running south from Platoro to Highway 17 follows the Conejos River and is broad and level the entire way and was our preference. And thinking back on it it was a glorious mix of everything in the wild. There was water available while we were there so next time, that's where I'd camp. The trail is at the south end of the parking lot just behind the registration sign (SJ-14, N37.302112 W106.60540 ). But, don't ask me about fishing - I cannot kill a fly. It is moderately difficult, clocking in right at 8 miles with a total 3,000 feet of elevation gain, but the waterfalls, fantastic lakes, and wonderful views below and above the tree line are absolutely fantastic. We were finding lots Waypoints SJ-15 to SJ-16 Situated in the south east corner of the wilderness, this 22.2 mile hike in the Conejos Peak (pronounced coe-NAY-hoes) area offers a mix of wooded valleys, alpine meadowsand huge herd of elk. Christian, the dawg, and I on a 5-day backpacking trip to the South San Juan Wilderness in south central Colorado. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash. The difference in the El Rito tracks was so great it looks like the trail may have been rerouted since the FS track was taken (it is obvious that is the case in the higher meadows where the old tread is still evident). One such hidden gem is (yet another) Crater Lake, tucked away in the South San Juan Wilderness - an area labeled by many as "Colorado's wildest corner". San Juan National Forest Headquarters 15 Burnett Court Durango, CO 81301 (970) 247-4874 Columbine Ranger District 367 Pearl Street P.O. From our base in Alamosa, we used FR 250. To get there you need to get to Platoro. Trek into the South San Juan Wilderness, and you’ll find what just might be the wildest place in Colorado. Bring a Colorado fishing license and pole — the secluded lake’s accessible shoreline makes for great casting conditions. Turn right on Forest Road 250, a gravel road marked with a sign for Platoro. I'll have 4 nights, which should give me time to This 7.6-mile hike is also a great choice for its moderate grade and easy access from the town of Ridgeway Selected Ozark Hikes: Butterfield Trail (Devils Den) - White Rock-Shores Lake Loop, Weatherproof Topographic Maps at JUNE 29th - JULY 5th, 2014 --- A six night, seven day backpacking trip into the South San Juan Wilderness. For those seeking a longer trek, the route connects with the Continental Divide Trail at the lake’s southern tip. Blue Lake is an hour from this shed. These maps are FREE to download and print. From Grand Lake, the eastern portion of the wilderness is accessed by traveling north on Hwy 34 into Rocky Mountain National Park’s Kawuneeche Valley entrance. Blue Lake Trail (El Rito Azul) About 5 miles, moderate Situated in the South San Juan Wilderness, this trail winds through thick spruce and fir woodlands and vast meadows to Blue Lake, a placid beauty flanked by volcanic rock bluffs. Nestled deep in the South San Juan Wilderness near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, Fish Lake is a beautiful, deep glacier tarn located just below the Continental Divide in the headwaters of the Blanco River. The South San Juan Wilderness is a U.S. Wilderness Area located in the San Juan National Forest, east of Pagosa Springs, in southern Colorado.. Waypoints SJ-20 This trail takes you deep into the South San Juan Wilderness, not far from where that legendary bear lived and died. After coming up to the back side of a bald saddle (which if you go to the top will get more view of the Conejos Valley), you see the trail climbing a bluff towards the south. SJ-20 (N37.26470 W106.65947) is Conejos Falls. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until October. It’s been a year since I did this hike. Waypoints SJ-16 Take the trail to the right, cross the small outlet creek near the lakes edge and start the 200 foot climb out of the lake basin. Accessible from the upper 1.2 miles west of lower Blue Lake, S3 (13,410') and S5(13,360') rise on the divide crest. from Bernard Wolf. Green depicts unmaintained trials such as to the top of Conejos Peak. You will stay on the CDT for the next 5.9 mile until SJ-19. Just past the CDT sign is an old chimney. There is not much of a tread this high in the valley so your best bet is to just head down hill staying left (north of the stream. 127 Reviews. The 10.4-mile round-trip trek to the body of water gains 1,400 feet in Worth Noting: The last grizzly bear in Colorado was killed near Blue Lake in 1979. Waypoints SJ-17 to SJ-18 Go With The Flow: The headwaters for several rivers, including the San Juan, form here, and the area is flush with lakes (more than 30), including Red Lake. South San Juan Wilderness, the last refuge of grizzlies in Colorado. Follow the GPS! Almost entirely above treeline, this 6.5-mile day-hike loop cruises below rounded 12,000-foot ridges en route to Tobacco Lake in the heart of Colorado’s South San Juans. Go north 24.3 miles to FR 247 (you will have just past Platoro). Some believe that it is still home to a few grizzlies, but there is no sufficient evidence yet to prove this. ImSozoed - Duration: 25:05. A sedan could easily make it. The summit of S4 (13,242') is perched on a ridge extending 0.5 mile east from S5, and is also accessible from the basin west of the lower lake. To Buy Maps: These maps are FREE. Trekking poles are recommended, many water crossings (some are fast and up to your thigh or higher) and there are areas that the trail is rocky on a steep slope and sometimes the trail can wash out. “At your age, that isn’t realistic. Driving up: Take the CO 17 then take the 250 to the trailhead. Blue Lake Trail is a 10.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Pagosa Springs, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. From here the hike is mostly in meadow until the trailhead. Alternatively, both maps are available on 11x17 Rite in the Rain weatherproof stock for $5/sheet ($10 for the set) plus S&H. A While easy to follow, it was braided and torn up by horse and cattle and there must have been a big blow because there were seemingly hundreds of downed trees. Originally designated as wilderness by Congress in 1980, it is a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System and now maintains 158,790 acres. Recreation. ... A 2017 trip to Blue Lake Colorado in Conejos County . At this point you are well above the tree line ready to start your descending traverse across the face of the north ridge. The forest in the lower valley is Engelmann spruce with some aspen groves. Entering from near Platoro Reservoir the this 17.7 mile hike offers scenic Blue Lake , a stretch of the Continental Divide Trail and Conejos Falls . Take a small section,” she says. Trip Mileage Table: Click here for trip mileage table. Continue walking on the main road, when you come to a “Y”, take the left toward the pointed pyramid shaped mountain in the skyline. Blue Lake inside the Rawah Wilderness near Fort Collins, CO Located between Roosevelt and Routt national forests near the rural towns of Gould and Walden , the Rawah Wilderness Area unfolds into 76 miles of trails webbing through dense forests speckled with transparent subalpine lakes. Blue Lake and Ice Lake … Hey, I and 2 buddies are planning to head out west probably the 2nd or 3rd week of September this year for our first elk hunt. Box 439 Bayfield, CO … Trek into the South San Juan Wilderness, and you’ll find what just might be the wildest place in Colorado. June 6 - 9, 2006. Since there is a 200 foot camping restriction at Blue Lake and because most of the sites were trashy, we stayed there. Maps:South San Juan/Del Norte, #142 ($9.95, Trails Illustrated, 800-962-1643). The path is correct! On September 23, 1979 a sow grizzly was killed near Blue Lake by a bow hunter. But a 76-mile section from Wolf Creek to Cumbres Pass? Look for the short trail behind the camp to see the falls from the top. The only facility is a vault toilet. We are leaning very hard toward the San Juan Wilderness around Platoro Reservoir area in Unit 81. Another friend suggests which section. Another 0.1 mile takes you past the North Fork Trail, #714, and mile 15.6 (SJ-21, N37.27751 W106.62495). Conejos Peak Loop, South San Juan Wilderness, CO Situated in the south east corner of the wilderness, this 22.2 mile hike in the Conejos Peak (pronounced coe-NAY-hoes) area offers a mix of wooded valleys, alpine meadows and huge herd of elk. Enjoy . Except for the El Rito Azul Trail, there was very good correlation between the new GPS tracks and the forest service’s version of the loop, so I suspect the other trails depictions are reliable. Trail #712 is the Middle Fork Trail, the one we took for this loop. Here you'll have outstanding views of Mt. The nearest towns are Grand Lake, Walden, Kremmling, and Estes Park, Colorado. By combining three or more of these trails with the CDT, you can make an excellent backpacking loop 20 to 30 miles long. All trails in the South San Juan Wilderness areas have been open all season. Waypoints SJ-18 to SJ-20 This was the last documented grizzly in Colorado. Waypoints SJ-14 to SJ-15 Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake: Creeks, turquoise alpine water, and Mount Sneffels views are all in store. Waypoints SJ-14 A hike in the heart of the S. San Juan wilderness, Blue Lake is located at 11,465 ft, just a few feet from the Continental Divide Trail. We were finding lots of 12-17 mile in-and-outs in NM. Crowd-free, rocky mountain highs -- you'll find this and more in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness. The hike up to Ice Lake and Island Lake in Colorado's San Juan Mountains is truly an amazing one. When you get to the cirque below Gunsight Pass you will see the trail turn into a super highway, the result of trying to build some support over what was otherwise very soft ground. The maps are $5/sheet ($10 for the set) plus S&H by emailing email@example.com. Forest-wide Regulations. Once you gain some elevation, it is virtually all Engelmann. The green and black line is the wilderness boundary. The last known grizzly bear in Colorado was killed in the wilderness in 1979. An easy 1.8 miles takes you back to the trailhead and mile 17.7. Rio Grande National Forest, 1803 W. Highway 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144, Telephone: 719-852-5941. This is the beginning of 550 foot climb to the high point of this hike, culminating at about 12,150 feet (SJ-18, N37.25389 W106.66211). Created on December 22, 1980, when President Carter signed Public Law 96-560, the 127,721-acre South San Juan Wilderness is a geographically remote and primal territory. The South San Juan Wilderness lies on the Rio Grande National Forest near Platoro and Antonito Colorado. They are formated for 11x17 paper. Continental Divide Trail Sections 1-3, Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. This idea is not farfetched and would likely facilitate a healthier ecosystem in the San Juan Mountains.