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

Very beautiful this time of year! Lake is thawed and hardly any snow

backpacking
3 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
25 days ago

Beautiful trail, I went up to the lakes yesterday 4/28. After venable falls the trail is snowed out most of the way. I used alltrails offline maps & the sound of venable creek to navigate up to the lakes.

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.

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

backpacking
7 months ago

Backpacked this on September 23-24, 2017. The drive from the first parking lot to the closer parking lot is indeed 4WD, but it does save you a good 2-2.5 miles. There's one particular section with a deep rut and steep climb and many portions are private property, so there are few options to park.

Started off our hike around mid-afternoon and it was warm, but we knew rain was in the forecast. It didn't started raining until halfway into our hike. Halfway through our hike, we could also finally see the beautiful mountain peaks and they were foggy, but didn't appear to have much or any snow on them. We ran into a couple of different groups on their way down. Only one guy said he made it to the top of Humboldt earlier in the day. Another guy said it was extremely windy and their group turned back.

We camped about half a mile down from the lower south colony lake and we were wet and very cold. By the time we opened our tent an hour later, there was a thin layer of ice and snow where there hadn't been any before.

It sleeted/snowed until about midnight and we woke up to a bit more snow/ice than the previous day. The surrounding peaks had a good amount of snow on them. Thought about trying to summit Humboldt, but it was definitely too cold when we woke up. Trip was still worth it for the amazing views in that basin.

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.

backpacking
8 months ago

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.

Trail is not well maintained but manageable. If you don't have 4 wheel drive then you have to hike 2.5 miles to the trail head which is straight up. Challenging but awesome hike. Lots of Bighorn sheep when you get up to the peak.

backpacking
8 months ago

Just got back today from an overnight camp trip. Great weather beautiful hike. Fish were every where could not catch one to save our butts. Recommend this hike to any one for a day and or a couple nights camping!

Mountain and lake views, beautiful area, hike was well worth it. Camping spots are limited and found the perfect spot, the site could hold 3 - 5 tents. The 27 Aug recorded track is the location of the campsite.

fishing
9 months ago

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.

camping
9 months ago

"I love to sit on a mountain top and gaze. I don't think of anything but the people I care about and the view" - Julian Lennon

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

backpacking
10 months ago

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

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

hiking
10 months ago

first half mile is difficult then levels out for easy climb through Aspen's. the last mile or so is climbing through forest but falls are beautiful. if you go another 100 yards past falls there is a great overlook if the valley.

10 months ago

Beautiful trail, good fishing, lots of wildlife.

hiking
10 months ago

We were told you couldn't drive to the trail head so we parked at the bottom. After hiking up 2.5 mi we saw everyone parked there which was frustrating. So, we hiked an extra 5 miles so app 14 mi all total. That being said, once we got to the lakes it was beautiful. Great views of the Crestones. Had we started at the trailhead, it would have been a very moderate hike and well worth it. I will do it again!

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.

Great hike with even better views, try and make it to the lakes.

on South Colony Lakes Trail

10 months ago

any snow remaining?

backpacking
10 months ago

Awesome hike. Access road to the trailhead is 4WD high clearance. To take this to the top of humbolt it is 16 miles round trip. Great wildlife, wildflowers, waterfall, lakes, this trail has it all.

backpacking
10 months ago

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

backpacking
10 months ago

Did this hike in late June. We were nervous about the snowpack around 11,000ft but there was hardly anything, just a few patche on the mountains surrounding the lake. Only few fishermen on the lake, otherwise we were alone. Trail starts pretty steep up onto Music Pass, then drops about 500ft into the valley. From there you can either head to Lower Sand Lake or continue on 1.7 miles to the upper lake. Had to cross sand creek twice but nothing to difficult and there are a ton of switchbacks, so the hike doesn't feel that rough, definitely a workout though. Would absolutely do it again, highly recommended.

backpacking
Sunday, February 05, 2017

Done this one a couple times, not that bad physically, till you get up to the Lakes - uphill from there. Climbed Mt. Humboldt and have snow shoe'ed in during winter months always quite and remote. Plenty of snow and Beautiful views, lots of timber down low but just keep climbin' timberline awaits !

hiking
Thursday, February 02, 2017

One of the most epic and flower filled hikes I have EVER done if not #1. do it in the summer/late spring

fishing
Thursday, September 15, 2016

Awesome!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I

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