Red Lake Trail is a 10.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Antonito, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
This is a really rewarding hike for anyone looking to have great vistas in the Southern Rockies. The trail has a short steep section and then climbs gently to 11,700 above Red Lake, about 5 miles from the new trail head. There are numerous easy day hikes available to explore the plateau above. The first mile of the trail follows a narrow stream and then it crests onto a vast plateau. Route finding requires following a GPS or the large carins that have been placed along the route where the trail vanishes in the wet areas. The lake sits at about 11,400 feet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I visited in July. Lots of mosquitos but beautiful. Be sure to check out the small falls at the end of the lake. I also saw Elk and heard lots of sheep over the crest of a near by ridge.
The first section of the trail is a little steep from the trailhead but Red Lake is beautiful, bountiful of possible good fishing. Rolling meadows on top, amazing views of distance mountians, plenty of small lakes on the trail way to Red Lake.