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