This is one of the prettiest lakes in the mighty Gore Range (the mountains that dominate the view from the front side of Vail and Copper Mountain ski areas.) Turn left and continue to the trailhead. The sound of engines fades away as you enter the Holy Cross Wilderness and you’ll reach this beautiful lake before your legs even have a chance to get tired. Vallecito Creek is a perennial stream that originates at high altitude within the drainage at Vallecito Lake. With its century-old fireplaces and an oak bar salvaged from an 1890's Yukon saloon, there is no shortage of history within these walls. For directions to various trails and trailheads, view the Vallecito Lake Trails Map. Ice Lakes. In the first 2 miles you will rise more than 500 ft. above the creek with fantastic vistas, then the trail drops down right beside the creek. Emerald Lake - Vallacito Creek Loop 36.9 mi 59.3 km • 5,018' Up 1529.62 m Up • 5,006' Down 1525.94 m Down. The trail was not steep in this section, and we crossed the creek a couple of times on bridges. Vallecito Creek is tributary to the Los Pinos River, which drains into the San Juan River in the Colorado River Basin. The turnoff to Emerald Lake is at mile 6.3 (Trail #528). Just remember in federal wilderness areas only foot and horse travel are allowed and groups must be keep to no more than 15 people. From the Bear Creek Trailhead it’s a gentle 1 mile to the lake, towered over by the massive cliff of Hallett Peak. You will be From the Vallecito Creek Trail, backpackers can link up with the Continental Divide Trail, head out on the Weminuche Trail or connect to the Pine River Trail and hit Emerald Lake on a loop. Turn left on Rock Creek Road across from the Blue River Campground. Reach the trailhead on Colorado 76 to the (almost) ghost town of Ohio City and take Gold Creek Road. “Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams ... One of the gems of the wilderness is Emerald Lake, the third-largest natural lake in Colorado, with crystal-clear waters that take on a green hue in the right light. Starting at the same trailhead, North Cottonwood Trail, you’ll leave the crowds behind on the moderate 4-mile hike. It can be confusing and poorly marked so take a map or an app. Colorado’s largest wilderness area is the Weminuche, 500,000 acres, an area so vast you can only nibble at the edges without an overnight pack and plenty of time on your hands. The trailhead is at the Gold Creek Campground. There we receive a pleasant surprise. Last hit: “We the People”: At the MCA, artist Nari Ward’s material truths, Up next: Chuck D, Shepard Fairey to lead Colorado art show celebrating Public Enemy, 5 tiny homes in Colorado that are perfect for a summer getaway, 7 of Colorado’s best waterfalls that are off the beaten path, Choose your own Colorado hot spring adventure, from ghost towns to underground caves. Weminuche – Pine River/Flint Creek Loop. Between June 9 and July 28, over 70,000 acres were burned at a cost of $40.8 million dollars. We started at the Vallecito Creek trailhead, and headed north, following the trail alongside Vallecito Creek. Hikers at popular Ice Lakes trail left behind feces, trash and damaged historic mining structures, Rocky Mountain National Park loses several historic structures in East Troublesome fire, Opt outside this Friday with these accessible hikes perfect for the whole family. Sign up for our weekly entertainment and outdoors emails to get news and weekend plans sent right to your inbox. It’s a seven-mile hike to the camping area, where you can attempt to summit the fourteeners. Enjoy gentle meadows full of wildflowers before the trail gets absurdly steep for 2 miles. The Gore Range is about as wild as Colorado gets. Each lake is a half-mile from the other but be sure to visit all three, as each has its own character. Due to the extreme popularity of the area you may want to consider using the free park shuttle to … This year we are doing Moon Lake also in the Weminuche Wilderness. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail. From Durango, take Florida Road (CR 240) out of town (approximately 16 miles). The trailhead is on Dallas Creek Road (County Road 7) near the town of Ridgway. Can you travel to the mountains to hike, ski under the new COVID-19 restrictions? Like day 1, along the lake, there were numerous trees down across the trail and made it a little slow going. Trail, San Juan National Forest - Pagosa Ranger District. Or take Vallecito Creek trail and experience the same breathtaking views. Gorgeous scenery, strenuous hike, abundant water. It is about 30 miles RT starting at Pine River Campground and past Emerald Lake. steeply to Moon Lake and a spectacular view of Mount Oso at mile 14. Keep going another steep 2 miles to Slide Lakes, perched nearly at timberline and surrounded by great campsites. Emerald Lake Loop & Mallard Bay Trails Trail Access: Humpy Creek, Mallard Bay, or Glacier Spit Trailheads Allowable Uses: Hiking Distance: Emerald Lake Loop: 12.6 mi Mallard Bay Trail: 0.6 mi Mallard/Emerald Connector: 1.1 mi Elevation Gain: Emerald Lake Loop: 2800 ft; Emerald/Mallard Connector: 500 ft A short side trip from the lake to Gunsight Pass is worth it. Unless you’re pushing a baby in a stroller you’ll probably be thirsty for more, so continue around the lake to quieter Nymph Lake or make a loop to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. Turn south on County Road 5 and then take a quick right onto County Road 22 for 6 miles to the trailhead. Because it … This lake, one drainage south of popular Mount Harvard, is a different story. The reward is Upper Slate Lake, one of the prettiest and most remote wilderness gems in Colorado. This was a designate horse camp and I shared the camp with a young couple. Day 1 – Lime Mesa trail head to Emerald Lake (red GPS track): Starting from Lime Mesa TH (elevation 11,500 ft.), hike north on Lime Mesa Trail (676) peaking out at 12,500 ft. with a beautiful overlook of Ruby and Emerald Lake along with the Needle Creek Valley. For most hikers, the lake is about as far north as they intend to go. Hike I did this hike twice in 2020. The boundary of the Weminuche Wilderness is 2.7 miles up the trail, the fishing is fantastic. This 11-mile round-trip hike takes you to the some of the prettiest, remote and wild yet close-enough-to-be-doable-as-a-day-hike lakes (though many people prefer to make this an overnight backpack trip.) Head west for 5 miles and take County Road 18 west for another 4 miles. The Vallecito Creek Trail begins in the Vallecito campground. No lake in Colorado may offer such amazing scenery for such an easy hike. The hike to Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park begins from the Bear Lake Trailhead, located at the end of Bear Lake Road, 9 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36. 115 downed trees. Vallecito Lake is located 18 miles northeast of Durango. The trail forks at mile 19.3 and you continue on the Rock Creek Trail to the north. The creek flows southward, draining several high mountain lakes and streams and ending in Vallecito Reservoir. The trail forks at mile 19.3 and you continue on the Rock Creek Trail to the north. The Tour of Carvings Project is a comeback story of the Vallecito community following the Missionary Ridge Fire of`2002. The trail climbs gradually as you follow Vallecito Creek north. A stunning day hike, or a great four-to-five day backpack trip. This trailhead along Interstate 70 is less than an hour’s drive from Denver but might as well be in a different world. His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand Get Directions. Vallecito Creek Trail is a 12.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bayfield, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The last 1.5 miles require a high-clearance vehicle (or an even longer hike). Freelance journalist R. Scott Rappold has been writing about skiing and other ways people enjoy the great state of Colorado for more than 15 years. You’ll walk endlessly over and down forested ridges on the Gore Range Trail until the junction with the Slate Creek Trail, where the fun really starts. Here’s how to explore it in the winter. From the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead it’s a modest 3.5 miles to that namesake lake, where many day hikers turn around. I have been wanting to do the Elk Park to Needleton semi loop from the Durango Silverton railroad stops. The parting gift of the glaciers that carved up the Rockies and helped create the stunning landscape, their waters are cool, their air crisp, their views stunning, often in a low point of a valley surrounded by high peaks reflecting in the blue water. https://www.trailrunproject.com/trail/7065118/emerald-lake-vallacito-creek-loop You could also do a semi loop going past Rock Lake and coming back down Vallecito Creek. Head right to continue this loop. 1st trip was in mid-July, second in late-September. The Rock Lake Semi-Loop, Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado July 19-22, 2015 ... with both the starting and ending trailheads near Vallecito Lake. Spring snowslides have wiped out the horse bridge at Vallecito's southern end. If you do a search online, you are guaranteed to find many blogs talking about their experience utilizing the Narrow Gauge Durango to Silverton Railroad to enter Chicago Basin, being dropped off at Needleton and a day’s hike up Needle Creek. The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake” Whether you’re hiking up to fish, set up a campsite, climb a mountain or just drink in the views while you drink some microbrews, a mountain lake is a feast for the senses. He skis 100 days a winter and writes when he needs money for lift tickets or beer. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Adventurist, to get outdoors news sent straight to your inbox. Plan to spend at least two nights enjoying this pristine area, with a day trip to Moon Lake at the top of the valley. There’s also plenty of good backcountry camping around the lakeshore. To get there, travel 15 miles northeast of Durango, where the trailhead and parking lot will be located on the east side of the reservoir. Pine River to Emerald Lake: The Pine River alternates between meadows and canyon, frequently flowing peacefully on the flat valley floor. All contents Copyright © 2020 The Denver Post or other copyright holders. You’ll need both to reach Emerald Lake, Colorado’s third-largest natural lake, a 10-mile trek from the Pine River Trailhead near Vallecito Reservoir. A short drive from the historic mining town of Silverton, the Ice Lakes Trail is a classic … And keep in mind that the more remote and harder to reach the lake is, the more likely you’ll find solitude. And it’s pretty easy to reach this world too, just around a mile to the lake fed by Saint Mary’s Glacier, probably the most Instagrammed glacier in the world. The trail follows Lake Creek. It might be the bluest water you’ll ever see in Colorado, as the lake is much deeper than many alpine lakes. Bayfield, CO. Weminuche Wilderness Hiking. These are three picturesque lakes teeming with trout, reached by a tough, but doable-in-a-day, 9-mile round-trip hike, with 2,200 feet of climbing. But hey, if it was easy to reach, there would be a lot more people up there. All rights reserved. The Fossil Ridge Wilderness near Gunnison is so-named because remains of ancient sea creatures have been found in the rock 13,000 above sea level. When you visit Emerald Lake Lodge, you follow in the footsteps of legendary guide Tom Wilson - who discovered this magical location more than 100 years ago. You’ll need both to reach Emerald Lake, Colorado’s third-largest natural lake, a 10-mile trek from the Pine River Trailhead near Vallecito Reservoir. On the north end of the trail just above the creek inlet for Emerald Lake, the … John Denver knew it: One of the most magical ways to enjoy summer high in the Rocky Mountains is at one of our amazing alpine lakes. — John Denver, Rocky Mountain High. It’s also one of the toughest to reach, 18 miles each way, with plenty of up-and-down to get your legs screaming at you, so most mere mortals do it as an overnight backpack. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/pinos-river-trail-to-emerald-lake There is a slide debris pile near Rock Creek (but ok via foot). After .6 miles you enter the Weminuche wilderness. The Pine River trail itself is a 49-mile out-and-back, lined by … Emerald Lake Trail is ranked #5 out of 6 things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park. Vallecito Lake Event Center From the town of Walden take Colorado 14 a short distance to County Road 12W. Located in the Weminuche Wilderness, Emerald Lake is an alpine lake located off the Pine River Trail near Vallecito. For a truly epic adventure, continue over Columbine Pass and make a 36-mile loop north on the Vallecito Trail and then west on the Elk Creek Trail to … Wildlife, Create Recommended Route or The trailhead is north of the town of Silverthorne, 7 miles on Colorado 9. See pictures and our review of Emerald Lake Trail. Did you see it? You follow rapidly flowing Vallecito creek tumbling down a narrow glacial valley; the creek is among the loveliest in the West. Seeking to avoid a descent to the loathed lowlands, we look for hope in our topos, but there is none. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains southwest of Pueblo have many, many fine lakes, owing to their jagged terrain and tight canyons that allowed lakes to form high in nearly every drainage. Turquoise Lake near Leadville can be crowded in summer, but this easy 2.2-mile hike will lead you to a gorgeous lake where you’ll feel above it all. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, horses, and backpacking and is best used from June until October. Obsessive skiers and snowboarders looking to make turns all year come here in late summer after even Arapahoe Basin ski area has closed. Official website for Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho, BC. Emerald Lake is an alpine lake located off of the Pine River Trail near Vallecito Reservoir. Here are 10 pristine wilderness lakes, arranged in ascending order of difficulty, that are worth every step to reach. The trailhead is at the western edge of Turqouise Lake. Celestial event not seen since 1226 happening this month with amazing conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, Video shows bobcat "sashaying" into an alley at edge of Colorado Springs. From there a 36-mile loop crosses the Continental Divide, drops into the stunning Vallecito Creek valley, crosses Columbine Pass into Chicago Basin and runs back to the train. For backpackers, the Vallecito Creek Trail offers countless opportunities to spend anywhere from three nights or longer in the backcountry. Vallecito Creek Trail: Vallecito Creek at the ford, where the bridge washed out years ago, and water is almost thigh deep. The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers of all shapes and sizes on this 10 mile hike. The first stretch isn’t bad, though it’s heavily used by horseback guides so you’ll have to get used to the omnipresent manure smell. The hike begins in a steep canyon with ponderosa pine forest, aspen and conifers. You can lengthen your trip by hiking up to the next two lakes and as high as Blue Lakes Pass, which would make for a strenuous 11-mile day. Past Emerald Lake there are creek crossings, and if it has been a wet year you will have a muddy trail as you climb up the Lake Creek drainage. Tour of Carvings. Follow the dirt road 1.2 miles and turn left at the road marked “Rock Creek.” The trailhead is at the road’s terminus in 1.7 miles. The Colorado house with the best holiday lights in 2020 is ... Six free, socially distanced, in-person Christmas wonderlands to check out in Denver this month. One of the gems of the wilderness is Emerald Lake, the third-largest natural lake in Colorado, with crystal-clear waters that take on a green hue in the right light. The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness can feel crowded with so many people climbing the famous 14,000-foot peaks in the area. Folding the maps with a sigh, we turn east and pound 3,600 vertical feet down the Johnson Creek Trail to Vallecito Creek. Then the steep ascent to the lake will leave you breathless. After 4 miles on the trail, it reached its most popular feature, Emerald Lake. The creek features numerous waterfalls in its lower reaches. -- Archuleta, Fourmile , West Ute Lake: within 200 feet of lake-- Emerald Lake: within 1/2 mile of north shore and 1/4 mile of other shores-- Little Emerald Lake: within 1/4 mile of lake-- Flint Lake: between shore and Flint and La Osa Trails; and within 200 feet of west and north shores-- Twin Lakes: in Needle Creek … Past Emerald Lake there are creek crossings, and if it has been a wet year you will have a muddy trail as you climb up the Lake Creek drainage. 8/13/19; Emerald Lake to Moon Lake: Avalanche debris field with medium difficulty to navigate; Additional trail conditions websites: PagosaTrails.org. Pine River / Flint Creek Loop is a great multi-day hike following rivers and creeks. This gorgeous mountain lake is reached by a moderate hike of just 2.5 miles, though with 1,600 feet of elevation gain it’ll leave you sweaty. Parking is limited on summer weekends so you may need to park in a satellite lot and take a shuttle (or take a midweek break to avoid the crowds). The first trip had eleven hikers, and the second had five hikers. At the T-intersection, take a left on CR 501 which will bring you to the lake. From Westcliffe, take Hermit Road west to where it ends at Sampson Ridge Road, nearly 6 miles, to County Road 172. A worthy side trip takes you to Browns Pass. Blue Lakes in the Mount Sneffels is an exception, a 6-mile hike (roundtrip) with 1,500 feet of climbing to a stunning mountain basin in the shadow of namesake Mount Sneffels. Seeking grace in every step he takes Emerald Lake. You will cross Taylor Creek, Vallecito creek, and Second Creek as you continue on through meadows and aspen groves. The Mount Zirkel Wilderness near Steamboat is a virtual no-mans-land for eight months of the year, owing to the heavy snow that falls and sticks around into late June. Take Exit 238 just west of Idaho Springs and drive north on Fall River Road for 9 miles to the trailhead. None is easy to reach, but if you’re going to put in the hiking effort, Lakes of the Clouds are some of the prettiest. Unfortunately, the creek sits in a narrow gulch and its difficult to get a good look at the falls. The San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado don’t surrender their secrets easily, often requiring multiday hikes to experience their wonders. Better yet, heft an overnight pack and spend some extra time in this gorgeous area. Trails 2000 But roads rarely reach such places, so you’ll need to put in the effort to get there. PHOTOS: There was a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event in the sky above Colorado Monday night. I didn't stay at the camping area designated for Emerald Lake (you can't camp around the lake) but instead choose a spot past the lake up the valley just before the trail starts the climb to Moon Lake. An edition of The Denver Post. 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