Explore the most popular views trails in Sangre de Cristo Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
16 hours ago

it's a easy trail you can runn up with great veiws of the valley and not to many poeple however don't be mislead by the Cairns all around the trail...

A really cool trail and an awesome place to go backpacking. Stay there a few nights and go to each of the three lakes.

hiking
3 days ago

We hiked this trail 5/12/2018 via the Gibson Creek Trailhead and made it to the lower lake. Towards the beginning of the trail, we saw Henry Tjhie, and he told us we wouldn't need our snowshoes. The mud and snow depth then was manageable in boots and there were only a handful of places where we had to walk across snow, many of which are probably melted by now. The frozen waterfall was very neat. Just before the lake, there was a large snow field, and we only sunk into the snow in a few spots. Saw less than 10 people the entire time, so it was very peaceful. The large, wide creek crossing was doable with a couple large logs to walk across, even with all the snow run-off. It was slow going for most of the trail since there are LOTS of downed trees, creating all kinds of obstacles, some of which you have to wander off the trail to go around. Lots of birds in the area. It was neat seeing a ptarmigan once on the way up and once on the way back in about the same spot. It was very windy at the lake, so much that it was creating waves, something we had never seen in the backcountry. We spent a while trying to figure out how to get to the upper lakes. We tried going around on the right side of the lake, but no luck. We did, however, spot a bunch of fish in some of the ponds behind the lake on the right side. We realized later that the trail to the upper lakes goes around on the left side via some logs over part of the lake; the trail was difficult to see because of heavily overgrown bushes. Even though the lake was beautiful and serene, only giving this trail 3 stars because of all the downed trees, difficulty route finding to the upper lakes, and lack of views on the way up.

off road driving
4 days ago

Great easy 4x4 trail with camping. We ran this many years ago with a group of friends. 4x4 Low and air down your tires. Watch water crossings during snow melt they can get high. Take a compressor so you can air down for sand and back up some for the trail. If you go with your friends who have a Discovery 2 make sure they know how to engage 4x4 low. LOL

backpacking
6 days ago

Did the full loop. The Natgeo topo (#138 i think) seems to differ from reality in the area where the Venable trail starts. Going up the from the venable trailhead (Not Comanche) there is an unmarked left turn which the map shows leading to the bottom of Venable trail. However, venable trail is actually straight/right about 50 yards up the rocky atv trail, and is well signed. Because of this, we went up Comanche trail and down venable. Comanche trail is completely free of snow until the Phantom Terrace, where there are 2 short sections of incredibly exposed snow at the very top. Looking over the edge of the Phantom terrace from the comanche side, both sections of snow are visible. The First one is avoidable by going up and left (northwest-ish), then down and right to the trail. This is exposed class 3 scrambling and with a pack, very wet and loose, and was sort of scary. The second section is avoidable on the right side, but you have to basically walk on the edge of the ledge. After this, the trail is in pretty rough shape until the intersection where you turn to go to Venable lakes. Lots of little wash outs, unavoidable scree piles, and loose rock. You could fall a few hundred feet if you lost it on one of these little obstacles. Everything below venable lakes is free of snow, but there are tens of downed trees in the trail.

hiking
14 days ago

This was the best alpine lake payoff of any trail I've done. We did it early in the season so the mosquitos weren't bad yet. As others have said, the first set of switchbacks are the hardest and the ones on the rock scree were the windiest. I'm out of shape and my wife is 4 months pregnant - our total time was 7.5 hours, 5.5 of moving time. 10.1 miles total. We saw some bighorn sheep on our way down and also swear we heard a moose, though not to be seen.

Just did this trail. It’s pretty rugged I’m talking very rocky areas all throughout that will give your feet, ankles and legs a huge workout. The snow is melting fast and there’s a lot of run off. The snow mounds that remain are deep I’ve slipped into a few and the snow went past my knees and there was a broken tree hidden inside one which gave me a nasty scratch about two inch cut on my lower leg. So be careful!! The trail is also unkept, fallen trees liter the path forcing you to find creative ways around them. But that view at the end. My god. Amazing.

off road driving
18 days ago

Took our off-road Tacoma on this trail yesterday - such a blast! There are quite a few stream crossings but shouldn't be an issue if clearance is high enough. Definitely a good amount of rough/rocky terrain, nothing we couldn't handle but not the most comfortable.
Park ranger mentioned not to drop the pressure in your tires TOO much, you do have to go over some very sandy portions of the trail but still need to maneuver rocks as well! Apparently a few people didn't listen and ended up with a dented rim.

hiking
18 days ago

Willow Lake was a beaut. No need for any type of traction. Lake is completely thawed and there was a huge trout in the stream below the lake. Bringing the rod next time! RT took 7 hours with a long break at the lake and lots of stops for photos. Garmin watch clocked 12 miles RT but we dink around a lot.

hiking
21 days ago

I went up to the lake a couple days ago 5-4-18. I took the regular route (not swift creek, the signage is not so confusing once you understand there are 2 routes up to lake of the clouds) There was a fair amount of waist deep snow drifts 1/2 way up, it took me 4 hours, but I believe it will be "ready" or normal within a few weeks. BTW saw 2 bears right below the snow line (they were not aggressive at all) bring protection if hiking alone or in a small group. I didn't see another person the whole hike, true solitude. The last half is all snow but totally doable if you have the patience, seems to be rapidly melting.

lost our dog Lindsey. trained pitbull grey with white belly with stand up ears and was wearing a brown jacket. if found please post a comment saying she's found

backpacking
28 days ago

Climbed Crestone Needle in Sep 2015. Well maintained trail from trailhead to base camp at alpine lakes at base of needle. Lord of the rings style mountain in this area. Absolutely beautiful.

Lovely hike, saw some wildflowers and the view of the valley is great.

hiking
1 month ago

Day hiked to this gem last week with the pooch. 200 yard wide, 100' tall ice waterfalls were a site to behold. Microspikes a must in upper third of trail. Worth every step with rewards starting at meadows within first couple miles on up. Would be a nice place to basecamp with nice views if Kit Carson if one were looking to do an overnighter right now.

on Lakes of the Clouds

1 month ago

Totally worth the hike!!! will definantly be back to this one but this time with plans to camp at the top.

backpacking
1 month ago

This is a tough hike at the beginning but once you’ve gotten past the switchbacks it’s pretty easy going to the lake. Leave early the weather can turn without warning and the wind really picks up around 2pm.

off road driving
3 months ago

Hell of a road! Super fun

So beautiful! We did this hike in November and the frozen waterfalls were awesome!

This is a gorgeous hike, one of the best in the area. I hiked it on a one-day ascent and descent of Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak, and so didn't have time to explore the area around Willow Lake much. I want to return to do some more photography in the area. Well worth the hike!

hiking
3 months ago

You can’t get to this trail without a 4 wheel drive truck. The road gets too bad.

hiking
4 months ago

When I was younger I used to run up this trail! Now I hike up and carefully run down. It is quite difficult in spots. The lower Venable portion can be very dusty and torn apart by horse travel, which can get muddy during (practically daily) Summer rains. The higher you go the more beautiful it gets! There is a broken down cabin towards the top. The views at the top are awesome! My lovely (ha!) profile picture was actually taken at the lower Venable Lake at the top! At the very top there is this portion of the trail called “Phantom Terrace” and the trail just disappears into the scree... let me tell you one thing... I would not want to ride a horse over it! The Comanche side of the loop is more forgiving and not as difficult.

I went in December 2017:
Okay- the good and bad:
1. This trail is 11 miles off highway 50 on a 1 lane dirt road. You need a high profile vehicle or you won’t make it. It took us about an hour to reach the trailhead via the road. It’s rocky, ruts, washboards, washed out, etc. I probably drove around 4-6mph the whole way
2. The trail is pretty much straight up. It was well maintained, but a lil tricky and it will get your heart racing for sure. There aren’t switch backs, just up up up (you are climbing a mountain, after all). The hike down was a bit slippery it’s so steep. It had just dusted snow when we were there.
3. The view is incredible. The trail is gorgeous. I can imagine you’ll likely be the only one there, it is remote! The silence is incredible. The lake at the top is worth it!!!! True gorgeous nature.

hiking
6 months ago

This is a well maintained trail and is somewhat challenging. The steep grade and altitude make this a fantastic workout of the body and mind. This hike has it all sweeping views, streams, waterfalls, and alpine lake, and moss covered forests. We loved it!! Give your self plenty of time as it is a very long 8.6 miles. In fact, I would say it is more like 12 miles out and back. If you go in July, BE PREPARED FOR EPIC MOSQUITOES !! You will need long pants and long sleeves and bug repellent. If you take these precautions you will be fine. We went in shorts and short sleeves and it added a layer of challenge to this hike.

on Lakes of the Clouds

6 months ago

normally a moderate hike. 3/4 of the hike was over snow. Definitely a trying hike but absolutely beautiful. took 5 hours in and right at 3 hours back. well definitely try to make it again before too much accumulation. our 6 year old hiked it like a champ.

Great trail! Started hiking at 8am. Enjoyed the views. A bit confused by the open meadow that you backtrack before entering trees again and start climbing in elevation. Also struggled to find the first creek crossing since it was November and the creek was pretty froze up. The creek crossing is on the trail and it raises quickly from the drainage valley where you would expect it. Then struggled again to find the switchbacks at the camp site mostly because of the snow on the ground. So ate lunch around 11am just where the switchbacks start and headed back. Arrived back at the truck by 2pm. Enjoyed the day!!

great trail and not as steep as many of the other trails in the area

Would like to come back in the spring when the falls will be really running.

epic. saw elk. Aspens were yellow and great did it in about 4 weeks ago. lakes were clear and amazing. snow on the peaks.

backpacking
7 months ago

Great trail. Well maintained.While the hike is somewhat challenging with a full pack, the abundance of amazing views makes it worth the effort. Views of Willow Lake are a breathtaking reward.

fishing
7 months ago

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