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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Conejos Peak Ranger District

Quick Facts

Continental Divide - Blue Lake to Elwood Pass Trail

Beginning Elevation: 11,630 Feet (3625.3 Meters) Elwood Pass, approximately .25 miles west of the old Elwood Guard Station.
Difficulty: Easy to Most Difficult
Ending Elevation: 11,460 Feet (3572.3 Meters) El Rito Azul Trail 718
Length, One-way: 22.9 Miles (38.17 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 813
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Elwood Pass, Summit Pass, Chama Peak

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Copyright: Unknown
The Continental Divide Trail is part of the proposed Continental Divide National Scenic Trail which will start at the Canadian Border on the north and continue to the Mexican Border on the south.

The portion of this trail which passes through the Conejos Peak Ranger District is almost entirely within the boundaries of the South San Juan Wilderness area. The visitor should become familiar with Wilderness regulations before entering.

The trail at present is poorly maintained and lacks adequate signing in places. Because of it's condition, it is suggested only experienced hikers attempt this trip. Horseback riders should be very cautious at the present time due to the numerous potentially dangerous areas.

Visitors who do use the trail will be rewarded for efforts by spectacular vistas in all directions.

Due to the exposed nature of most of this trail, extremely close watch should be kept on weather conditions.

The Continental Divide Trail continues onto the Conejos Peak Ranger District, just off Forest Road #380 at Elwood Pass. Approximately 5 miles south of Elwood Pass the South San Juan Wilderness Area begins (motor vehicles are prohibited). The trail continues to the Conejos Ranger District boundary at Blue Lake on the South.

The trail is poorly maintained and inadequately signed most of the way. The trail is scheduled for reconstruction, but work has not yet begun. There are stretches of the trail which pose dangers to the careless or inexperienced hiker. Horse travel is dangerous at present due to these conditions which pose dangers even to riderless horses.

Suitable camping areas are not numerous but an adequate number do exist. Water is available along the trail, but should be treated prior to use.

The trail is above timberline most of the way. Sudden and violent storms can be expected. The visitor should be prepared for these and always watchful for their approach.

The trail offers access to Crater Lake, Lake Ann, and Blue Lake. Refer to these lakes in the Fishing Section.

Numerous trails provide access to the Continental Divide Trail. These offer numerous loop possibilities for trips of varying lengths. The following is a list of trails on the Alamosa District which offer access to the Continental Divide Trail:

1. El Rito Azul Trail #718
2. Middle Fork Trail #712.02
3. North Fork Trail #714
4. Adams Fork Trail #713
5. Crater Lake Trail #707

For additional trails which offer access to the Continental Divide Trail, check the Del Norte and Conejos Ranger Districts of the Rio Grande National Forest, and the San Juan National Forest.

Directions from Del Norte: Travel 23 miles (37 km) west on Highway 160 from Del Norte Ranger Station (7 miles (11 km) west of South Fork) to Park Creek access road #380. Turn left and follow Park Creek Road for approximately 17 miles (27 km) to the old Elwood Guard Station (cabin). The trail is about 1/4 mile (.4 km) west of the cabin.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: July through Labor Day Weekend (NOTE: The trail is mostly above timberline.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Typical spring conditions indicate you should expect snow above 10,000 feet. Updated: 2000-05-09 10:41:00.0

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking An adequate number along the way
ICON Cold Water Fishing Crater Lake, Lake Ann, and Blue Lake
ICON Hiking & Walking Continental Divide - Blue Lake to Elwood Pass Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Be very cautious, potentially dangerous areas
ICON Viewing Scenery Spectacular vistas in all directions

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.

Crater Lake Trail - This is a wonderful, though moderately strenuous day hike. The trail starts in a forest and climbs above timberline to the Continental Divide. Spectacular views abound here.

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.

Lake Ann - This scenic lake sits just below the Continental Divide.

Middle Fork Trail - The trail provides a direct route to Machin Lake via the Middle Fork of Saguache Creek. Attractions are fishing in the lake and creeks, a waterfall midway, diverse wildlife, and excellent scenery.

North Fork Conejos River Trail - This trail is entirely within the boundaries of the South San Juan Wilderness Area. The trail rises steeply through several switchbacks and then back into a meadow, eventually viewing the Continental Divide.

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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