Explore the most popular horseback riding trails in Rio Grande National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

1 month ago

Hard.

hiking
3 months ago

I've lived in the SLV most of my life, and Blanca's summit had been calling for a while. I finally decided to get in shape to do it, starting by regularly hiking Limekiln Hill, west of Monte Vista, sometimes doing time trials, sometimes adding 50lbs of weight, and then proceeding to hiking ever larger hills and mountains: Pup, Dog, Horseshoe, Windy, Bennett, Handies, West Spanish Peak, Twin Peaks, etc. Then, on a nice day, I finally went for it, thinking I'd just see how far I could get before weather or fatigue made continuing seem unwise. I was hurrying, trying to beat the usual afternoon thunderstorms. I started at 8700 feet at 7am. To my surprise, I made it to the summit at 11:20am without any real difficulty! It was easier than I expected!

The area around Como and the upper basin below Blanca and Ellingwood are gorgeous! And the views from the summit are hard to beat.

I had been concerned about how I'd do with the exposure on the ridge, looking down Blanca's north face, but I found that I was fine with it. But most of it, aside from a spot or two near the summit, is entirely avoidable if it makes you uncomfortable.

The scrambling near the top is easy if you have even a little scrambling/climbing experience.

I found trekking poles very helpful, as always, especially for the descent. Bring some tape to treat hot spots before they turn into blisters. The long descent can be grueling. Make sure your shoes or boots fit properly and leave a little space in front of your toes.

I don't recommend this hike, especially in one day, unless you are very fit and understand the weather risks. Afternoon thunderstorms are the norm in summer and can be very dangerous up above treeline.

hiking
3 months ago

This is an enjoyable, gently inclined but sustained, fairly long, non-technical hike with a lot of possible elevation gain, good for getting into shape for the 14ers or just to do for its own sake. If the weather looks favorable, go all the way to Bennett's summit!

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail. I was fortunate enough to see a mountain lion cross the road, close to the trail head. It contains beautiful shaded areas that open into lush fields. The constant sound of moving water is very relaxing. Definitely recommend!

hiking
4 months ago

I’ve hiked this many different times since my cabin is just a few miles away. Beautiful hike. Great gradual elevation changes and heavily shaded by dark timber. Can’t take any ATV larger than a quad. It is along Frisco Creek so the sounds of running water and great.

5 months ago

Great views, tough but doable climbs, my 7 year old son was able to do it.

hiking
5 months ago

Started at 7 and I expected it to be an easy hike. But the road you hike on is fist sized round rocks that make walking terrible. The wind on top was 15 mph and it was manageable but the 7 degrees plus wind chill made it extremely cold. I would totally do it again though. Ended up taking 11 hours and ended up two miles from my car in the dark. PS: if you want at about 13000 ft on the left their is an old mine shaft 300 yards from the trail and it’s only 20 feet deep but it’s a nice relief from the wind and snow drifts.

hiking
6 months ago

Turns out this is not a bad early November hike. I ended up going around the back first, summiting, and the coming down to Tobacco Lake on the way out. After doing so, I feel like this might have been a more interesting route. Getting to the top of the first hill and into the meadows above the trees was a nice casual walk before making the real accent, kind of a warm up. An incredible hike either way you go. Outstanding views.

backpacking
8 months ago

Excellent hike. Wish I would have pushed my jeep a little further, at least until the switchbacks started. Nonetheless we got to tack on an additional few miles of hiking. Getting to coma lake, summiting Blanca the next morning, breathtaking views of neighboring peaks, all made it worth it. Tough hike, good challenge.

The Lake Como Rd is called the "Worst Road" in Colorado for a good reason. From Highway 150, a regular car can drive about 1.5-2 miles up the road. A stock jeep or truck about 3 miles. Specialty vehicles can drive all the way to Lake Como (lots of videos on Youtube). On a recent backpacking trip we measured 5.8 miles from our start to the western shore of Lake Como resulting in a 4,000 ft climb. This is an "ankle-breaker" trail and not a good walking surface as long stretches are almost entirely softball to basketball sized boulders. Around mile 4.3 we crossed the only convenient water source, Holbrook Creek. There are a fair number of individual campsites dispersed along the trail.
Lake Como is beautiful and the western end has lots of campsites and can accommodate a large group. There is also a small cabin if you need a quick shelter. I saw two bear cables. These sites are heavily used as shown by the amount of trash and excessive number of fire rings. For better campsites I recommend walking to the southern shore. Misquotes, chipmunks, and people are abundant.
From Lake Como you can go for the higher lakes or the summit of Mount Blanca, about 2.8 miles one-way.

hiking
9 months ago

Recommend going with someone who has done the hike before. Just a few spots near the top where you can go in the wrong direction. This is a very challenging hike but still do-able. Kids included.

hiking
9 months ago

Wow! We made it! What an experience to see a lake named by one of our ancestors. The hike was really tough - after the 26+ switchbacks, there's still a ways to go. But the lake is worth it! It's even been stocked with fish!

fishing
10 months ago

This was a tough one. I didn't think I would make it. Pace yourself. The views are EPIC! Also, don't get your hopes up once you pass that 26th switchback, there's more up ahead. Prepare for mosquitoes from hell and even worse weather. We made the hike only to stand for 3 hrs in the hail! Good luck.

trail running
10 months ago

Dope. Sweet climb that isnt crazy technical and has some fun views

11 months ago

The hike ended up being 8 miles and that included going to the falls which is off to the side of the main trail. There are some fallen trees in the middle of the trail, a horse wouldn't be able to get around. If you're looking for your prince there's tons of frogs to choose from at the lake. Watch out for wood ticks along the way, I found 2 on my clothes on my way up. The GPS doesn't take you to the trail, if you look to the right just before turning on old bridge road there's a sign that points you in the right direction.

camping
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Been here for over a week and dont plan on leaving yet

backpacking
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Very rocky trail, first couple of miles to Lake Como are rough. After that a very easy climb.
Bears are present so make sure to hang your food.
Views are unbeatable.
Note: This is one of the most challenging off road trails in all of Colorado. Do not push your vehicles. You will know when its time to quit, and it will be very challenging to turn around if you go too far.

hiking
Sunday, October 30, 2016

I highly recommend doing ellingwood before Blanca and taking the southwest ridge. Most fun I have had yet on a 14er!

backpacking
Sunday, August 21, 2016

This is a fun trail with about 2500 ft of elevation gain at the front. It's beautiful and Ruybalid lake is well worth the hike. However, if you're looking to follow the trail past the lake and hook up with "No Name Lake" trail be prepared. The trail after the lake is non-existent. Even with a good map, compass, and GPS we weren't able to find the trail. We ended up bush wacking our way through marshes and thick forest to get to No Name Lake.

bonus: less than a mile up there is a detour to some of the most amazing falls I've ever seen. Definitely take it.

hiking
Sunday, July 31, 2016

It's so good for people who love hiking and it have beautiful views around that place

hiking
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Incredible hike, very rocky though

hiking
Monday, July 18, 2016

We only made it to tobacco lake. With the threat of a thunderstorm and some rain and hail, we decided to turn around. The views the whole way up were beautiful!

backpacking
Monday, July 18, 2016

It was super fun for my very first 14er! I recorded a video please check it out. If you are an Elton John fan you are gonna love it!

https://youtu.be/1DBu-EfItCE
With love,
"Apollo" Creede Wylie

fishing
Friday, July 15, 2016

The hike to Tobacco Lake wasn't too bad. Saw deer and elk along the way. Awesome views and some decent snow banks still piled up (late June). The fishing in the lake wasn't so good. Saw Cut Throat but only managed to catch one. The continued hike to Conejos was much more challenging. The views from the top are a wonderful reward. Will make this hike again for sure.

hiking
Wednesday, July 06, 2016

I'm reviewing to provide some up-to-date information. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to hit the entire trail but I'll definitely be back for the whole thing. The trail is pretty easy to find. From Antonito take HWY 17 to Horca and turn right onto FDR 50, a dirt road. This will take you past Rainbow Trout Ranch. Take FDR 50 to Record Bridge Road. *Note if you turn left to take Old Bridge Road following GPS you will not be able to reach the other side of the Conejos so go up one street. Pass over the bridge and there's a little parking area with a sign for the trail, #855, the San Juan Wilderness, and a couple of lakes. The trail head is just slightly to the left of the parking area. 1.3 miles into the hike are The Falls. There is a sign that marks where you can follow the trail to the falls. We took this and ended up heading all the way back over the rocks to see the falls up-close and personal. They're beautiful. The hike up to this spot is not terribly challenging, just watch your footing on the rocks and take it slow. The trail has pretty good coverage with the trees at these early spots so you're not constantly in the sun. The trail had some people on it but it was certainly not crowded.

hiking
Sunday, October 12, 2014

This hike was my first backpacking trip ever! I am an avid outdoorsman but I had never been backcountry backpacking before until my friend planned this trip for us while I was away with the Army in 2010. We did the trip in early October of 2010. We were able to drive my standard F150 4X4 up Lake Como road to around 8500 feet. I did not want to push my truck up much further than that, mainly since it had to still take us to the Grand Canyon and back home to Tennessee. We budgeted a whole day of hanging out around Lake Como and adapting to the altitude before we hit the three summits. We took some pills for two weeks prior to our trip which seemed to help pre-adjust for the gain from our Middle Tennessee altitude. I packed up a light-weight Diawa spinning rod set up to catch some trout in Lake Como. I did manage to catch and release several 8-10" trout in the crystal clear lake. I was throwing a small 1/16th oz Little Cleo spoon and different colors of 1/16th oz RoosterTail brand spinners on a 4 lb Mono line. The weather changed significantly throughout our accent up the main trail. It was around 80 degrees at the truck at 4:00 PM and by the time we made it to Lake Como it was around 9:00 PM and it was snowing a little. This was a demanding trail and I would recommend training and conditioning before attacking a trip like this one. The hikes up to Little Bear and Blanca were very challenging for a greenhorn like myself at the time. However, I managed to keep up and make it happen. The hour-glass was pretty sketchy headed up to Little Bear but it was a view and memory that we will never forget!

hiking
Thursday, July 18, 2013

Great views of waterfalls, nice trail and beautiful scenery, some areas of the trail were steep, but overall it's a very rewarding and amazing area to see anytime of the year!

hiking
Sunday, June 30, 2013

Absolutely loved this hike, very rewarding. The first two miles feel like your going straight up. Lots of steep switch backs but the views of the valley is amazing. Take the time to go see the waterfall on the way up it's great and only about 300 yards off the main trail. Take your fishing gear the Rainbow trout are huge. This is one of those spots you want to just hang your hammock in the tree and enjoy the amazing scenery.

hiking
Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summit ed Blanca after Little Bear and found the whole experience to be quite exhilarating. The climb up Little Bear and the knife edge ridge traverse to Blanca made for the best 3 hours ever.

hiking
Thursday, April 05, 2012

When bagging Blanca, might as well take an extra 30 minutes and head on over to Ellingwood as well. It's an easy double summit. Slightly better views of the northern Sangres too.

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