Explore the most popular lake 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.

backpacking
12 hours ago

this trail is great access to mountains like Adams and other 13er/14ers it doesn't have many poeple on it ever really (much less then willow) and is way easier but a little longer.

Magnificent! The water felt warm enough to swim in of it had been sunny.

hiking
2 days ago

Did this hike this morning. IMHO, the highlight of the hike was the side trail to Rough Creek Falls. Very pretty. Ruybalid Lake itself is in a beautiful location. But the view is marred by the prevalence of so many Engelmann Spruce trees devastated by the spruce bark beetle. I still think it's worthwhile to climb up to the lake. Just don't be disappointed when you discover that the reality doesn't match the pictures you might have see of the picturesque lake.
One trail-finding note. When you reach the meadow at the top of the climb, the trail towards Ruybalid Lake is not that evident. To find it. look out into the meadow, and head towards the two 6 foot posts about 10 yards apart from each other. The furthest post has the number 855 engraved at the top of the post, signifying the Forest Service designation of the Ruybalid Lake Trail. From these posts, the trail is a lot clearer.
Enjoy your hike.

Great Easter hike. Great earlier season hike. Recommend microspikes from half way point on. Scenic rewards abound in last 20% of trail. Had lake all to ourselves and basked in its glory!

1 month ago

Hard.

I did this in one day. It was pretty hard on the feet, especially on the seemingly endless descent. But it was an incredible experience overall! Lots of beauty up there!

I knocked one star off for the somewhat nasty, slippery trail up Challenger. Be careful! Trekking poles help! Rocky Mountain Field Institute was up there building another trail in 2017, in what looked like a much more solid region, so it might be much better now.

Be careful when descending Kit Carson that you come down the same way you went up, as it is very easy to end up too far east and to miss the avenue and go too far down, into hazardous territory. Avoid the temptation of following the cairns that you might see up there, as they apparently belong to a trail that goes over to Columbia Point. Use GPS to make sure you hit the avenue's entrance. Mark it on the ascent.

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 little trail. Have seen moose here several times. Sadly the forest fire we had a few years ago, went around this area, so the view isn't as good as it once was, but it's still a beautiful trail.

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.

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.

Beautiful! Only moderately hard as well, though we didn't go all the way up...

backpacking
9 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.

hiking
9 months ago

trail(road) leading to como is horrible, def get your workout in for the day. Como is very beautiful once you make it there. 4x4 will help get you further up the road. 3 stars due to the trail but Como Lake is a 5 star.

backpacking
9 months ago

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.

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
10 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!

backpacking
10 months ago

Beautiful, very tough hike. We got eaten alive by mosquitoes though.

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

hiking
11 months ago

I hiked this 5/27/17. For an asthmatic Floridian who lacks cardio, it took me about 2 and a half hours to reach the lakes. As it was threatening to rain after I'd chilled for over an hour, I got back to the trailhead in just over an hour.

The trail is practically entirely uphill going out. Towards the very start, there are two creeks to cross--the first one is fairly deep and got the insides of my half-ankle-high boots wet. You can likely avoid getting wet on the second one. It's a gorgeous hike with two small meadows. You're primarily in a mix of aspen and pine. There's many fallen trees around, but only one obstructed the trail. Towards the beginning of the trail, you can hear a waterfall to your right (if going out) and walk on a sort of obvious trail to see part of it and a beaver dam.

When I was at the lakes, a pair of hunters in a jeep entered the area from the opposite side and shot some ducks. I don't think they saw me (I was at the tree line), but they left quickly. Certainly watch yourself out there, but I doubt they meant harm except to ducks.

The trail is fairly rocky at times, and there's a few mud spots towards the end from snowmelt, but you should be fine if you watch your footing. It's gorgeous out there.

Also, be weary as there is no cell service in this part of the forest. It doesn't matter to some, but someone was worried for me since I hadn't replied all day since letting them know I had left.

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!

hiking
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

beautiful and quiet!

backpacking
Sunday, August 21, 2016

The lake is amazing. It is peaceful and unbelievably beautiful. The water from it tastes sweeter than any water I've ever tasted.
The trail is sometimes difficult to follow and isn't very well maintained. Watch closely for small cairns and be cautious you don't follow a false trail.

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.

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