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

Quick Facts

Red Lakes Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,300 Feet (3210.7 Meters)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,400 Feet (436.4 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,700 Feet (3647.1 Meters)
Trail Number: 889
Usage: Heavy
USGS Maps: Cumbres

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Copyright: Unknown
The Red Lake Trail climbs the La Manga Creek Valley to Jarosa Mesa (South San Juan Wilderness), the alpine plateau above, where there are spectacular views of the Continental Divide and of the Elk Creek and Los Pinos drainages. Red Lake, sitting in a bowl at the head of the Rito Colorado, is popular for fishing and camping. The trail is also popular with fishermen. Attractive campsites are abundant and water is available along the entire route.

Beginning at an elevation of 10,300 feet, the trail follows La Manga Creek through subalpine forest and meadows, passing numerous beaver ponds popular for fishing. The trail is moderately steep as it climbs to the rim of Jarosa Mesa. Timberline is reached at approximately 11,400 feet, where the La Manga Valley opens into the gently rolling tundra of Jarosa Mesa.

The mesa reaches an elevation bordering the alpine and subalpine ecosystems. Tundra vegetation predominates, but gnarled spruce and fir are scattered across the mesa as the struggle to survive in the harsh wind and weather. In protected locations, such as the bowl where Red Lake sits, subalpine forests are found. Wildlife species that may be seen on Jarosa Mesa include: elk (who summer above tree line), marmot, pika, ptarmigan and coyote.

From Red Lake Trail, one may continue westward on Forest Trail 725 to Dipping Lakes and the Continental Divide Trail (Forest Road 813). By hiking cross country into Rio de Los Pinos Valley, one can join the Los Pinos Trail (Forest Trail 736).

Directions from Antonito: Follow Highway 17 to where it junctions with Forest Development Road 114, 1/2 mile south of the summit of La Manga Pass. Follow Forest Road 114 approximately one mile to the trailhead.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: May through October .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Red Lakes and along the way
ICON Cold Water Fishing Red Lakes and along the way
ICON Hiking & Walking Red Lakes Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Moderately steep
ICON Viewing Scenery Continental Divide; Elk Creek and Los Pinos drainages

Related Activities
Continental Divide - Cumbres Pass to Blue Lake Tra - This is a short segment of the entire Continental Divide Trail but the terrain differs considerably from that of most of the divide.

Fern Creek Trail - The Fern Creek Trail is primarily used for access to the popular Ruby Lake Area. Beyond the Ruby Lake Area toward Little Squaw Creek and Big Squaw Creek is often used very lightly in the summer months.

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.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Divide Ranger Station, 13308 West US Highway 160, P.O. Box 40 , Del Norte, CO, 81132, Phone: 719-657-3321, TTY: 719-657-6038


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