As the Ruybalid Trail climbs steeply from the Conejos River it passes through forests of Douglas fir, white fir, and intermingles aspen. Spectacular views of the Conejos Canyon can be seen from many vantage points along the trail.
The gentle grade of trail after the rim of the Conejos Canyon is reached (3 miles) is a welcome relief. Following the North Fork of Rough Creek, an intermittent stream, the trail passes through subalpine forests of spruce, fir and aspen. Grassy meadows break the dark continuity of the forest. Approximately three miles from the trailhead, the Rough Creek Trail takes off northwesterly to No Name Lake. The trail junction is within a wide meadow surrounding a spring feeding the North Fork of Rough Creek. This is the only perennial water source on the trail between the Conejos River and the Ruybalid Lake.
From the spring, the Ruybalid Trail continues northeasterly, crossing a gentle ridge between two unnamed 11,000 foot peaks. Ruybalid Lake sits below one of these peaks, on the brink of the Conejos Canyon. Standing only a few yards from the lake, you can look far below to the Conejos River. Nestled within a steep rock bowl and surrounded by subalpine forest, Ruybalid Lake provides a nice setting for camping. The lake does not support fish because it freezes solid in the winter.
The trail is well used by trail bikers and horsepackers; hikers should step off the trail and allow horses to pass. There are few stream crossings at which to get drinking water. Any water found along the trail, however, should be treated before consumption.
The South San Juan Wilderness is entered a short distance from the start of the trail. Beyond this point motorized equipment is prohibited. Parking is available at the trailhead.
Directions from Antonito, Colorado: Drive north on Forest Road #250 approximately 8.0 miles from its junction with Highway 17, 23.0 miles west of Antonito.
April through October .