The Duck Lake Trail traverses a high forested bench above Elk Creek that was carved into the valley wall by the glaciers that filled the valley over 28,000 years ago. The bench falls gradually to Elk Creek but is bounded on the south by a steep cliff or volcanic rock. Duck Lake, Rock Lake, Beaver Lake and several small beaver ponds lie on this bench. The lakes feed streams tributary to Elk Creek. Duck Lake feeds a tributary of South Elk Creek, which dissects the bench before joining Elk Creek at First Meadows.
Conejos River Road north of Stunner Pass
The South San Juan Wilderness is entered about half way up the trail. Beyond this point motorized equipment is prohibited.
Water is available along the trail as it passes by numerous streams and lakes; water should be treated before consumption. Adequate parking is available at the trailhead.
The Duck Lake Trail is fairly steep for the first mile, as it climbs to the bench above Elk Creek. The remaining two miles of trail traverses gently rolling terrain, providing a leisurely, scenic hike. The trail passes through forests of aspen and fir, where blue grouse can often be seen. Fresh subalpine meadows surround the old beaver ponds and lakes. Duck Lake is popular for fishing and is probably the main attraction to people traveling the Duck Lake Trail. At several points along the trial, spectacular views into the Conejos River Valley reward the hiker. Just below Duck Lake, the hiker can see a waterfall where South Elk Creek tumbles over a high ledge.
Directions from Antonito, Colorado: Follow Highway 17 to the Elk Creek Campground turnoff, 23 miles west of Antonito. Take the left fork of this access road and follow it 1.5 miles past Elk Creek campground, Old La Manga campground, and the La Manga Summer Home Group. The trailhead is at the road's end.
May through October .