Venable-Comanche Trail

MODERATE 46 reviews

Venable-Comanche Trail is a 12.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Westcliffe, 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 November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

12.3 miles
3,884 feet

dogs on leash





horseback riding

trail running







wild flowers




old growth


washed out

29 days ago

cbc 3b 0xx schest cvs4xex guheby c u 45 mvr

1 month ago

My SO and I planned to do this loop over 2 nights but were cut short due to weather. We hiked up to venable lake, it was 6.5-7 miles. The aspen groves were beautiful and the view before making the final climb amazing. The lake area was open and rocky, but good for setting up a tent. Unfortunately we got all settled in and the predicted light rain turned into a pretty bad storm and we had to throw everything in our packs and make a run for the trailhead. I’ll definitely be back to finish the loop another time.

1 month ago

Went backpacking up the Venable part of the loop in a group of four of us over the weekend. We measured it as a 7 mile hike from the lot to the largest Venable Lake on a Fitbit and an Apple Watch, which is different that the map. I am new to utilizing the app so not sure what happened but it took us by surprise as the sign notes that the hike to Venable Lakes is 4.75 miles. The last section to the largest lake was very challenging with significant elevation gain. It is straight up the side of the hill/mountain to a small plateau. There is a great camp site near the first lakes. The hike itself is very beautiful, with wildflowers and groves of aspen. The views are incredible as you can see across the valley to the Wet Mountains in several spots. Most of the hike was in the forest until the last section. We camped just off the trail near the largest lake. The fishing was incredible. There are some big cutthroats in that lake and each of us caught at least one. The trail is very rocky and coming down was more of a challenge and it was hard on the feet. I didn't notice it as much on the hike up. Perhaps a recent washout with the storm that blew through. We were visited by a few deer bucks at our camp site each night. They were very tame and curious and were content to be 30 yards away and watch us cook dinner.

1 month ago

My daughter and I hiked the Comanche side from Alvarado Campground to Comanche Lake and back. The elevation gain was challenging for us flatlanders (from Houston area) but it was well worth it. The trail was a little rough at times with washout and rocks but just enough to keep you engaged. The forest was very peaceful, with plenty of wildlife and the views of the valley were spectacular. Comamche Lake is a jewel and worthy of the effort. An awesome experience. I am looking forward to completing the loop one day.

2 months ago

Last year in August we backpack to Camanche Lake, spent the night then hiked back out the same way. it was a nice hike and a good trail.

3 months 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.

8 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.

10 months ago

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I'm old, fat, and broken. Did the loop in two days. Camped near one of the lakes then did the hard part on day two and to the car around three pm. Seen some 80 year old white haired women doing this, so anyone under age eighty should have no problems. Good warm up for Humboldt peak.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Highly recommend for experienced hikers/backpackers. Views are incredible.

The trail is not for the faint hearted and in my opinion it should be rated as hard. If you are scared of heights, easily fall/trip, or have a hard time keeping your balance, don’t recommend the hike from Comanche Lake to Venable Lake due to Phantom Terrace….the hike is along a narrow mountain ridge.

You will need suntan lotion and prepare for some really steep climbs.

On my record tracks pinned 2 really good campsites.

If you have any questions, I’m on Facebook Messenger.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I hiked to Comanche Lake and back. I didn't do the loop. It took me two hours to get to the lake. Fishing was great up to 12:00 PM.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Spectacular challenge with elevation gain , wildlife, views, clear water !!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I'm not sure it gets more Colorado, than this trail. Aspen groves and pine forests, massive elevation gain potential, slightly sketchy traverse, and beautiful Alpine lakes with trout in them. One of my favorites for sure

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Beautiful. Hiked this trail in the fall. The aspen trees were bright yellow, chill in the air. It was glorious.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Beautiful trail, good fishing, lots of wildlife.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Completed the loop today (Up V, down C). Conditions and the trail were both fantastic. Lots of wildflowers, and, with the exception of one ~150 meter stretch near Comanche lake, the trail was dry. Lot of bugs in the lower elevations.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

In late june, there was quite a bit of snowmelt on the Comanche side. Phantom terrace is something you don't want to miss. Hiking up venable lake side and down comanche is the way to go. Hard to catch fish in the high winds, but there are fish in the lakes

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Monday, June 29, 2015

amazing trail with waterfalls, lakes, summit views and aspen groves
easy to reach with a sedan to the trail head
its actually closer to 14 miles round trip
things i wish i knew ahead of time:
1) go late summer, we went end of june and there was still a lot of snow melt, the trails were very wet and muddy towards the top and the snow obscured a lot of trail which made for interesting guess work
2) bring bug spray, the comanche side is mosquito filled, you will get eaten alive
3) go up venable and down comanche (comanche is much steeper)
4) towards the top of venable lake the trail splits, right brings you to the lake and left brings you to phantom terrace to complete the loop. EASY TO MISS. dont miss it, this will make your life hard because phantom terrace is named because the trail is hard to find and doesnt look like it exists.
5) once over the first saddle take the trail veering left along the ridge to find comanche lake

it was beautiful and one of my favorite hikes ever

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Great track lots of elevation gain. Two Great Lakes, water falls, ridge pass, fun and challenging day hike!

mountain biking
Friday, August 23, 2013

Bike it. You'll love it. Very pretty area. Trail is not busy. Watch for bear. Loose rocks too make for a fun ride. Lots of climbing

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Not too hard and very pretty

23 days ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

recorded Venable-Comanche Trail

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