Pinos River Trail to Emerald Lake

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Weminuche Wilderness

Pinos River Trail to Emerald Lake is a 20.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Bayfield, Colorado that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 20.4 miles Elevation Gain: 3,028 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
rocky
5 days ago

5/23/20 Absolutely amazing views! Both lakes at the top are stunning! Highly recommended to do this trail over two days as this trail is a tough one. There were no bugs the weekend we went at the end of May. Saw elk and deer. There are campsites around the bridge. If you are going up without stopping, make sure you have plenty of water.

running
10 days ago

May 16, 2020 Not a step of snow til you hit view of the lake right at ~10mi. Trail is mostly clear of blowdowns until you reach 9mi. Saw some campers near the high point. Beautiful trail with quite a few rocks

backpacking
snow
12 days ago

This was a great trial, went at the beginning of May and on the hike in we saw at least 7 snakes and on the way out we saw more. They were all Gardner snakes, so harmless, but I was scared nonetheless. We hiked to the fork in the trail that leads you to Emerald lake and camped by the river, there were a ton of great camping spots with fire pits. The second day we hiked up to the lake, around the lake there was still a lot of snow and we could barely get to the edge of the big lake. Beautiful scenery though! Spent the second night by the river again, the temperature was pretty mild at night, and warm during the day. Sadly no fish though...

backpacking
bugs
rocky
2 months ago

Hiked this trail in Aug, 2019 (1.5 days). Bugs were really bad by the water at Emerald Lake. I'd love to connect this with other trails beyond the lakes! Got stuck in a staring contest with 5 Mule Deer bucks on the way out (in photos)

hiking
bugs
over grown
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Great trail. Often very crowded.

hiking
9 months ago

First 3 miles kind of bland (but still pretty) compared to rest of the hike. I would rate as moderate difficulty. I prefer Vallecito. Did as a two night backpacking trip with extra mileage past Emerald Lake. If I did it again, I'd do as a day hike.

hiking
10 months ago

This was one of the best trails I have ever done. I was part a group of 5 backpackers. We hiked up to where the lake river connects to pine river just past the bridge and made camp. Then day hiked to the lake and back to base camp we made. then backpacked out. we went July 4th weekend and weather conditions were perfect, not too hot in the day and not too hot at night. Ask around what to use for fishing the lakes or you will get skunked like we did. I did catch a couple in the river at a beaver dam though. Very shady trail all around, great for dogs. No snow when we went at all. Unbelievable scenery all around. The rivers were peaking due to record snow. Enjoy!

backpacking
rocky
10 months ago

This is a really great trail overall with beautiful views and plenty of shade. Saw some marmots, quail, chipmunks, and a hummingbird. The first 5-6 miles are fairly flat with a few small hills, then after crossing the bridge it's a challenging rocky uphill the rest of the way. Spent 3 days/2 nights around this area (Thu-Sat) and found there was plenty to explore.We saw very low traffic on the weekdays and moderate traffic on the weekend. We backpacked in the first day and set up camp around the 5 mile mark. The next day we day hiked up to the lake. I'm very happy with our choice as taking on that uphill with packs on would have very challenging after already trekking those initial 5 miles, but I do wish we'd pushed on an extra mile or so as there are some good campsites right after the Los Piños River/Lake Creek junction bridge with easier access to water (6-7 mile mark). Overall there were plenty of campsites throughout though, offering plenty of options depending on what your preferences are. Bug spray is a must.

hiking
10 months ago

Great hike. Trail is in good condition as of 7/3. only area affected by snowmelt was around mile 8 where the trail had some flowing water. But you can easily walk around this.

hiking
10 months ago

Trail has been cleared of downed trees. About halfway up the last 4 miles, there is quite a bit of water flowing down the trail, but it's avoidable....we kept our feet totally dry. Just an FYI - you can only camp at Little Emerald Lake OR 1/2 mile north of Emerald Lake. There is zero camping in between. It's a few miles in between, so be prepared to set up camp at Little, or hike another hour or two. (There's a sign to designate where the no-camping zone begins) Saw a few curious marmots and deer. There is a large log jam where Emerald flows into Little...you can easily cross to the other side. I highly recommend exploring.

backpacking
muddy
private property
washed out
11 months ago

Beautiful area! Great hike and many nice options for camping along the way. We were able to camp at the lake on dry land, although the snow is still patchy in some spots. It looks like the trail was recently cleared from downed trees, but the campground at the lake is hard to find due to many downed trees. Saw a ton of wild flowers, deer, and even a bull moose. Water is available at many spots along the trail. The trail gets quite boggy as you keep going past and north of the lake. The first 6 miles are a breeze, almost flat, and the climb to the lake is steep but not difficult. Hope to visit this area again!

hiking
snow
11 months ago

Awesome hike with amazing views!! We didn’t have snow gear and just made our way up in boots, this was fine just hard work! Snow covers the track for the last 1.5 miles and the lake is still frozen over.

Thu Sep 20 2018

We hiked a little more than 4 miles in and found a nice lunch spot on the river. You will hike for a good 2 mile before the trail is beside the creek. We saw a couple deer and only passed three other hikers. Great day to be among the changing Aspen leaves.

Sat Sep 08 2018

What a beautiful easy hike the first 6 miles... then we turned around... and just as beautiful going back.

fishing
Wed Aug 15 2018

Strenuous, but beautiful (and prime fishing).

Wed Aug 01 2018

Very beautiful trail. seems to be some discrepancies in the mileage but worth it. Making it to the lake in one day is doable, but hard if you are not used to the elevation. Will definitely be back in the future

Tue Jul 17 2018

This was the perfect trail for my first solo backpacking outing. The lake is so peaceful, a perfect location to spend some quiet time in the wilderness. The lake was surprisingly warm!

Tue Jun 26 2018

A must

Tue May 22 2018

Just completed the hike (May 2018). As another person posted, the trail is relatively easy for the first 6 Miles. After that point, there’s about 15 downed trees on your way to the lake along with a steep incline. My pedometer marked the hike at 11 Miles one way, not 9, so making it to the lake in one day is rather strenuous. The lakes are gorgeous and well worth the hike!

hiking
Thu Mar 29 2018

I completed the hike in July 2017. The first 6 miles a more or less flat with amazing valley views. Once you cross the bridge and head north to the lake, it gets quite steep but you still have access to plenty of water and shade. The real work begins about a mile/mile and a half before the campsite below Little Emerald where you are treated to fallen tree after fallen tree across the trail. On our way up some awesome ladies were working to mitigate that problem but it I imagine it will be a nonstop job with all of the beetle-killed pine along the way. The campsite south of Little Emerald can accommodate a relatively large group of people without getting too cozy but it will be crowded on a holiday weekend. The walk around Emerald is excellent and the view down the valley is breathtaking.

hiking
Sat Jul 18 2015

This was a great three day, two night hike. The first day we set up camp at the Los Piños River/Lake Creek Junction (six mikes in). The second day we day hiked with light packs up to Lake Emerald, explored the area, took a quick dip in the frigid lake and hiked back down to our already set up camp (9 miles rt). We spent most of the third day relaxing and broke camp pretty late in the afternoon. The hike out was fairly easy and we were back at our car by sunset. I suppose you could day hike the whole trail but taking your time and exploring seems like a better bet. The first six miles is relatively flat and easy going so you can get pretty frivolous with your pack items. We brought a six-pack of beer and a couple steaks - luxuries you usually aren't afforded in the back-country. Can't wait to do it again.

hiking
3 days ago

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
10 days ago

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