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

Quick Facts

Continental Divide - San Luis Pass to Spring Creek Pass Trail

Beginning Elevation: 11,930 Feet (3718.8 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,032 Feet (321.7 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 10,898 Feet (3397.1 Meters)
Length, One-way: 14.5 Miles (24.17 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 813
Usage: Light to Moderate
USGS Maps: San Luis Peak, Baldy Cinco, Slumgullion Pass

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail follow the same route. The trails only remain in the Divide District a short distance to the west of the pass before passing back over the Divide and onto the Gunnison National Forest and back into the La Garita Wilderness (which is Spanish for "The Lookout").

From this point, to near the headwaters of West Mineral Creek, about 6.3 miles west of the pass, these trails traverse the southern portion of the La Garita Wilderness. This segment of the trail is rugged as it climbs high ridges and then descends rapidly into the headwaters of East and Middle Mineral Creeks until the trail finally climbs up to Snow Mesa. Here the trail is almost level until it drops down out of the mesa to Spring Creek Pass.
Campsites can be found in the spruce at timberline at the headwaters of both East and Middle Mineral Creeks and at Spring Creek Pass. A few picnic tables and vault toilets are available at the Spring Creek Pass Trailhead.

From the Continental Divide, near the Head of West Mineral Creek, The Colorado Trail follows the Old Skyline Trail (Forest Trail 465), west, just below the crest of the Continental Divide to the head of Miner's Creek. The distinctive profile of Uncompahgre Peak is visible through a notch as you head northwest along the trail coming into the head of Miners Creek.

On the opposite side of the Miners Creek drainage, to the left, is a rock formation similar in character to those found in the Wheeler Geologic Area. The split-level headwater bowl of Miners Creek is a beautiful area and in midsummer, it is not uncommon to see a herd of elk in this area. Camping is easily available in the upper Miners Creek area and there is an adequate supply of firewood.

The trail climbs south-southwest out of the Miners Creek Drainage to a high point just east of a pond at the head of Willow Creek which marks the extreme eastern part of Snow Mesa. From here, the trail crosses Snow Mesa to Spring Creek Pass. The trail meanders over the rolling grassy hills on Snow Mesa for approximately 4 miles and then drops steeply off on the west end for approximately 1/4 mile, then drops again, more gradually, for another 3/4 mile through an old-growth spruce-fir stand of timber to Spring Creek Pass. Firewood is very scarce in this area when camping. Elk herds and bands of domestic sheep grazing can be seen on Snow Mesa during the summer months.

The segment of the trail from just east of San Luis Pass, where the trail enters upon the Divide District, to the junction of La Garita Stock Driveway Trail (Forest Trail 787) with the Old Skyline Trail (Forest Trail 465) at the head of Miner's Creek is closed to motorized and mechanized traffic of any kind because the majority of the trail lies within the La Garita Wilderness. However, from the head of Miner's Creek west to Spring Creek Pass, the trail is open to motorized vehicles and mountain bikes. You must make sure to stay on the trail on the south side of the Continental Divide at the west end of Snow Mesa and not cross over the divide to the north, as the north side is located in La Garita Wilderness.

Portions of the trail were relocated, tread maintained and/or developed, and Colorado Trail markers erected which should facilitate the ease of following the Continental Divide Trail, as well as the Colorado Trail.

Directions from Creede: Take Highway 149 to Creede. Once in Creede, go north on the town's main street. At the north edge of town, proceed into a dramatic, steep-walled, narrow canyon. A 1/2 mile beyond Creede, continue straight on Forest Development Road 503 as a side road forks to your right. You will need a good first gear and ground clearance for these extremely steep roads. Follow Forest Road 503 approximately 6 1/2 miles to the end of the improved dirt road at the entrance to the Equity Mine. A small parking area is provided for 2 WD vehicles. If you have a 4WD with good clearance, follow Forest Road 503 north up the valley for another 1.6 miles, until it bears to the left (west) and climbs steeply over the high ridge.

Directions from Creede: Travel 33 miles west and north from Creede (14 miles southeast of Lake City) to Spring Creek Pas Trailhead on Highway 149. This obvious trailhead is located where Highway 149 tops out on the Continental Divide at Spring Creek Pass. Forest Road 550 continues west from the top of the pass along the Continental Divide and serves as the Continental Divide and Colorado Trails for the first several miles.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Late Summer through Early Fall .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snowed in Updated: 2000-05-09 10:33:00.0

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking A number of choices
ICON Hiking & Walking Continental Divide - San Luis Pass to Spring Creek Pass Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Varied terrain
ICON Mountain Biking Stay on the trail and out of the wilderness area
ICON Motorcycle Riding Stay on the trail and out of the wilderness area
ICON Picnicking Spring Creek Pass Trailhead
ICON Viewing Scenery Many scenic views
ICON Viewing Wildlife Elk and others

Related Activities
Bachelor Historic Loop Tour Interpretive Site - This tour is a self-guided interpretive vehicle loop 16 1/2 miles long that will take you through a portion of the historic Creede mining district.

La Garita - Spring Creek Pass to Rat Creek Trail - The trail provides excellent panoramic views in all directions. A feeling of vastness can be experienced while traveling across the immense open space one finds on Snow Mesa.

Miners Creek Trail - Scenery and solitude are available along this trail. Excellent views of white chalk like cliffs are present at the head of Miners Creek.

Nelson Mountain Primitive Road - The last half of the road traverses a beautiful subalpine park at timberline.Other than being a scenic, high mountain jeep road, the route offers no other extraordinary or distinctive attractions.

Silver Thread National Scenic Byway - This scenic highway passes through Creede and the Upper Rio Grande Valley and contains some of the most magnificent scenery and colorful history in the Sate of Colorado.

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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