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Backpacking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Conejos Peak Ranger District

Quick Facts

Continental Divide - Cumbres Pass to Blue Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,600 Feet (3304.2 Meters) The end of Cumbres Creek Road 119
Difficulty: Easy to More Difficult
Elevation Gain: 850 Feet (265.0 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,450 Feet (3569.2 Meters) Blue Lake
Length, One-way: 19.0 Miles (31.67 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 813
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Cumbres 7.5', Chama Peak 15'

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Copyright: Unknown
Trail #813 is a section of the Continental Divide Trail which continues north and south through the Rocky Mountains. In addition to traversing a unique terrain, the trail intersects with a number of other trails, allowing one to make side trips into the many drainages dropping from the divide. From high on the Continental Divide, views of the alpine plateau below, the many tributary drainages of the Conejos River, the San Luis Valley, and Sangre de Cristos far in the distance can be seen. After reaching the crest of the divide, a beautiful view of the Chama basin can be seen. This view is evident for several miles. As Trail Lake is approached, a view of the main canyon of the Navajo demands attention to the west.

At the top of Flat Mountain, one enters the South San Juan Wilderness. Beyond this point, motorized equipment is prohibited.

The Continental Divide Trail remains at high elevations for its entire length. Snow conditions in early summer and early fall may make passage difficult. Hikers should also be prepared for harsh weather conditions that may be encountered at anytime at these elevations.

This part of Forest Trail 813 is but a short segment of the entire Continental Divide Trail but it offers a unique experience to hikers because the terrain differs considerably from that of most of the divide. In the southern San Juan Mountains, the Continental Divide follows the peaks which break the gently rolling alpine plateau to the east. The plateau is dotted with numerous lakes and cut by major tributaries of the Conejos and Navajo Rivers such as Elk Creek, South Fork of the Conejos, and Canon Verde. These drainages provide not only variety to the terrain and a change in ecosystems but also interesting side trips if one hikes into them from the Divide Trail. Some of the districts' best fishing is found in the lakes along the Continental Divide Trail and the streams draining them.

Use and quality of the trail vary considerably. Within the Conejos District, the trail is generally well used and well marked. From the Continental Divide Trail, one can also join the Fish Lake Trail that descends the North Fork of Fish Creek to the west, within the San Juan National Forest.

Directions from Highway 17: Follow Highway 17 to the summit of Cumbres Pass. Immediately north of the summit, turn northwest onto Road #119 which passes behind the old railroad station and by a small pond. Continue on Road #119 to its end, approximately 3 miles. The Continental Trail begins at the roads' end. Through an agreement with the landowner, hikers are allowed to cross the one mile of private land at the beginning of the trail.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Late Summer through Early Fall (NOTE: Snow conditions in Early Summer and Early Fall may make passage difficult.) .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Along the way
ICON Cold Water Fishing Lakes and streams along the way
ICON Hiking & Walking Continental Divide - Cumbres Pass to Blue Lake Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Spectacular panoramic views

Related Activities
Adams Fork Trail - This trail is well suited for day hiking or overnight use. It is relatively easy and provides access to the South San Juan Wilderness.

Blue Lake - Located in the South San Juan Wilderness, access is by foot or horse travel only. This scenic lake is heavily used. Brown and brook trout can be caught here.

Canon Verde Trail - Although the ruggedness of Canon Verde may discourage some from taking this path, the splendor of the canyon is well worth the effort.

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway - The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is a 64 mile, steam-powered narrow gauge railroad located in the Rocky Mountains along the CO/NM border. Built in 1880, it now operates during the summer and early fall.

Cumbres Pass Dispersed Camping Area - The Cumbres Pass Camping Site is behind an old Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Station and is located at the top of Cumbres Pass just off Highway 17.

El Rito Azul Trail - The El Rito Azul Trail #718 begins in Three Forks Park and follows El Rito Azul to Blue Lake. The visitor passes through stands of spruce-fire alternating with open meadows. Magnificent views await the visitor at trails end.

Elk Creek Trail - The Elk Creek Trail is popular with hikers, fishermen, and horseback riders and it provides an ideal day hike for those camping at Elk Creek or Old La Manga campgrounds.

Los Pinos Trail - The valley of the Rio de los Pinos ("River of the Pines") is a picturesque glacial valley whose scenery has attracted tourists from afar. The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad passes through the valley below Highway 17.

Middle Fork Conejos River Trail - The trail follows the edge of an alpine meadow and offers a spectacular view of the Continental Divide with a glacial valley in the foreground.

Red Lakes Trail - The Red Lake Trail climbs the La Manga Creek Valley to Jarosa Mesa. Red Lake, sitting in a bowl at the head of the Rito Colorado, is popular for fishing and camping.

Spruce Lakes Trail - This trail is within the Weminuche Wilderness. Fishing and sightseeing are popular attractions for recreationists visiting this area. Camping is recommended in an open park close to the trailhead.

Timber Lake Trail - Timber Lake lies on the plateau between Canon Rincon and Hansen Creek. From the Timber Lake Trail one is afforded striking views into the depths of Canon Rincon.

Valle Victoria Trail - The Valle Victoria Trail provides access to the high country between Elk Creek and the South Fork of the Conejos River. This area is characterized by numerous lakes and interspersed subalpine meadows and forests.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Conejos Peak Ranger Station, 15571 County Road T-5, P.O. Box 420 , La Jara, CO, 81140, Phone: 719-274-8971, TTY: 719-274-3139


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