Explore the most popular trail running trails in South San Juan Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

My favorite trail in Pagosa! If you catch it right there are some beautiful fairy flowers end of May early June.

I’ve hiked this trail three times, all in August. Its biggest difficulty is that the first part is heavily used by cattle, so as you are struggling up the early steeper part of the trail you must also contend with wall to wall slop. After a mile or so this is not such a problem. Overall not a difficult trail with pretty scenery. The lake is lovely, maintained by beavers. I’d give this trail 4 stars if it weren’t for the muck.

I’ve hiked this trail 3 times, all in August. It is a religious experience to me, to be up under the sky on those miles of grassland. No bugs, but even in August there’s still a bit of a detour around that one marshy area. Not difficult except the first 3/4 mile if you’re not used to the elevation (10,000 feet). I’ve never met anyone in the trail except a sheep herder named Rego from Oaxaca and his horse.

If this hike was easy, would hate to see hard. Fairly steep in places with some very narrow passages on the edge. Beautiful except for all the dead pine trees. The "creek" is almost a river and the wildflowers were lovely. Highly recommend, but not if you aren't in reasonable shape. Not sure where turnaround was. We hiked over 2 miles and trail kept going.

Wonderful hike. Moderate, not too hard. Does require some stream crossing. We go sun, rain and hail all in late July AND there was still snow on the ground at 10,600 feet. Beautiful trail with lots of wildflowers and gorgeous views!

Beautiful panorama. The climb is gradual and relatively smooth. The last couple hundred yards up to the peak is freeform scrambling over rocks. We felt unsure in spots.

Our round trip time was about three and a half hours including a lengthy lunch on the top

Beautiful trail. Great rewards for a not too hard hike. The views are beautiful to bad for the pine Beatles killing ALL the trees

hiking
8 months ago

Connector trail, runs from Fish creek trailhead to Opal lake trail. Connects to Opal lake trail approximately 1/4 mile north of the lake. Sign is very weathered for the trail where it splits off from the Opal lake side entry point.

This hike was great! I was visiting from Phoenix and was looking forward to this hike. The trail is well maintained making it easy to follow. The best part is the very end where you have to climb to the top over a bunch of boulders. Definitely make sure you do this because the views are worth it! After taking a handful of stops to enjoy the many views along the trail and eating at the top, i would say it took us about 3hrs round trip.

Loved this hike! I'm 6.5 months pregnant so it was a little strenuous for me on the incline. We made it up and back in 3 hours with several stops for photo ops. The views were spectacular, and even did the scramble to the summit. I think most people of average Fitness could do this hike. Views were definitely worth it!

Great hike with a gradual incline. Wildflower switchback corridor takes you half way, then you have great views on your way to the peak. Will definitely be a regular summer hike.

Nice moderate hike to a great view at the peak! We started at sunrise, summited and got back down in under 2 hours. You will gain most of the elevation through the woods with switch backs in the first mile, then the trail is less steep and you will be rewarded with views. My favorite part was walking along the ridge with a great view to the north. Plenty of wildlife, we saw deer, marmots, squirrels, and tons of wildflowers. Right off the highway too!

hiking
9 months ago

Made it 2.25 miles before being chased away by thunderstorm.

Amazing hike. Not much wind before the early afternoon rain. We got a little wet on the decent, but hardly even noticed. Great views'

Great short hike but you can go further than the map says, which we did and ended up with 4.2 miles total. The trail ended at a stream leading to the river. We saw lots of fresh elk droppings and some scat too. The river wasn't as close or gentle for our dog to drink much from but there's a few spots for them to wade in. We went in the late morning so we could avoid the afternoon thunderstorms. Only saw two other groups there. Since some of it is in a burned section, there's quite a bit of sun - use sun block and bug spray. Long pants would be nice too since there's a couple thorny plants along the trail.

Really enjoyed this trail, with fun scramble to Alberta Peak with impressive view.

Well groomed, mild grade, and pretty! Managed to make it to the continental divide post before turning around. (Small dog was tired). 5 stars if the views continue improving as the trail goes on around the rim, just didn't get to see.

Eady to moderate. A few downed trees, and it rained pretty hard which made for some slippery areas, but it was a beautiful hike.

Love this trail for a morning hike!

hiking
9 months ago

Probably one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done! I felt kind of like singing songs from The Sound of Music as I walked along. The various little lakes are beautiful, with frogs croaking away, so many different textures of beautiful different green colors, like a carpet! Red Lake was placid and beautiful, and we saw quite a few people fishing. I do have to add, however, the mosquitoes were fierce. If you have a hard time with mosquitoes or do not cover yourself completely this can be a very unfun hike in the lower areas. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

10 months ago

Beautiful trail, very few people on it, magnificent views. One of my favorite so far in Colorado. Plus, the hike is rather leisurely. Bring some snacks for a picnic...you won't get better surroundings!

Didn't make it to the top; the snow got too deep about 1.7 miles in. Ended up walking part of the ski slope, then reconnected to the trail above the chair lift, but the deep snow started shortly thereafter. The views at that point were incredible, however, and made the hike worthwhile. The trail, when it does clear, has a lot of downed timber, so be prepared to scramble!

Easy to Moderate and well marked

hiking
10 months ago

This was an awesome trail. The dogs liked it a lot just cause they can stay hydrated and cool cause the water flows damn near 60% of the trail. Only bad thing is a lot of peeps seem to turn around at 2.21 miles cause the trail is hard to see but we managed to make it to a cage with a stick in it. Wasn't for sure what it symbolized. The hike back to the trail head was easy and fast. In the end gps said we did 7.99 miles.

backpacking
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beautiful, magnificent trail. Being from Texas, I don't get to experience any mountainous trails such as this one, so I tagged along with a friend from Colorado and backpacked here for a few days. I recommend picking a time during the summer where the snow has melted to a manageable level, as it was quite difficult last year in early June.

Even though there wasn't snow anywhere else, this trail was 90% snow. It wasn't very steep, views were amazing, and not very hard to find. Other than the snow, the one downside was that we lost the trail and ended up finding a ski resort instead.

This is one of my favorite quick hikes, it offers so much to both the seasoned and casual hiker. I highly recommend.

backpacking
Sunday, August 21, 2016

Just wanted give everyone a heads up that there have been a few vehicle break-ins at the Red Lake Trailhead recently. My truck was broken into the night of Aug 18-19, 2016. Talking to the Conejos County SO this seems to be happening to vehicles parked overnight. In our case, the rear window glass and driver's side window were broken and a few items were stolen out of the back. We were planning on staying 4-5 days up in the South San Juan Wilderness but thankfully we ran into a group on horseback who alerted us to what happened so we cut the trip short and headed back down to meet the SO Deputy and deal with the mess.

It's a shame we have to be paranoid about leaving a vehicle overnight at trailheads in Colorado now. I've been hiking and climbing and doing rescue work in Colorado for 35 years and have never encountered a problem. I've also traveled to South America driving a vehicle to climb remote mountains, left it for 10 days and never had an issue. I don't know if this is the new normal in Colorado or an isolated incident. According to the SO and other locals there is group of young "men" breaking into vehicles and homes across the county.

So, just a forewarning and beware if you leave your vehicle overnight at Red Lake Trailhead or other trailheads in the surrounding area. Take precautions and maybe drive a junk vehicle if you are going to stay for more than a day.

fishing
Saturday, August 20, 2016

I've been here before about 15 years ago about 3 miles from the Chama basin via a trail near to Trujillo Meadows. Did it again yesterday from the Red Lake trail and it was a beautiful climb from the scree on the North side of La Manga Creek, past all the cattle and the cow s_it on the trail and the few small creek crossings. The view of Red Lake and the mountains to the West and the flats to the North of the Los Pinos Creek and the Chama Basin were absolutely beautiful - God's Country. Caught a couple of small rainbow and a nice cutthroat in Red Lake even through the hail and rain and am planning to go back. I'm an older lady (60) and made it to the lake in about 90 minutes. Youngsters should do WAY better.

hiking
Wednesday, July 06, 2016

This trail is in Southern Colorado. I visited in July and we didn't get far in because we lost the trail. Trail is muddy and wet and when we lost the trail the area was essentially a marshland. It was gorgeous for what we did see just disappointing that we didn't make it all the way. There were A LOT of mosquitos and there was also A LOT of animal poop. To reach the trail take HWY 17 from Antonito, pass thru Horca and go thru La Manga pass. The signs for Red Lake Trail will be on the right and you'll take a dirt road quite a ways back to the parking area.

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