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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > San Juan National Forest > Columbine Ranger District

Quick Facts

Elbert Creek Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,800 Feet (2743.1 Meters)
Elevation Gain: 400 Feet (124.7 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 8,400 Feet (2618.5 Meters)
Length, One-way: 9.9 Miles (16.5 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 512
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Electra Lake, Elk Creek

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This trail provides access into the Hermosa Drainage. Day trips can be planned from access points 1 and 2 and Castle Rock can be climbed from them as well. From the Needles Country Store, the trail climbs steadily uphill on an east facing slope with aspen trees. A spring surfaces near the cabin at the base of Castle Rock. From there, the trail curves around the base of Castle Rock and continues to climb. It then crosses Elbert Creek Road (Forest Road 581) and climbs a small hill, traversing beautiful, scenic meadows. The trail then abruptly drops for approximately 7 miles into the Hermosa drainage.

Directions from Durango, Colorado: Access 1: 22 miles north of Durango on U.S. Highway 550, turn off the highway southwest of the Needles Country Store. The trailhead is located at the corrals. Be sure to close the gates as you go through. Parking is available.

Directions from Durango: Access 2: Turn onto Hermosa Park Road (FDR 578), just north of Purgatory and 29 miles north of Durango on U.S. 550. Follow this road 2 1/2 miles to the fork and then turn left onto Elbert Creek Road (FDR 581) and follow it about 3 1/2 miles to Elbert Creek and the trailhead.

Directions from Hermosa Trail: Access 3: Access is available via Hermosa Trail. Drive approximately 9 miles to the Hermosa Creek Trailhead in Hermosa Park. Follow the trail approximately 5 miles downstream to the Big Lick Creek and and Elbert Creek Trail junction.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Time of Day: various
Length of Time: depends
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: A beautiful walk up through a gigantic aspen grove, then through a beautiful, steep high meadow that levels out and goes on for miles. Nice solitude. Can't wait to do it in the fall. Marred only by the Aspen-esque monstrosities (gigantic hideous houses) that you have to view over the first half mile or so. I'm not recommedning it only because I want to have it for myself!
Conditions: Bugs in the high meadow in June.
Water Availability: There's a creek which I took water from and then filtered.
Recommended Clothing: As usual, take rain gear.
Suggested Accessories: I use a hiking pole if I plan to go more than 6/7 miles. Take bug spray and sunscreen.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Hiking & Walking Elbert Creek Trail

Related Activities
Big Bend Trail - Wonderful views, wildflowers and fishing holes are part of this trail that is in the Hermosa drainage and would make an excellent loop trail. The entire drainage is usually full of elk, coyote and an occasional bear.

Dutch Creek Trail - This trail follows a 10,000 foot ridge line for the first few miles which give a panoramic view of the La Platas and Needle Mountains.

Little Elk Creek Trail - This quiet trail offers beautiful views and during the first few miles, the La Plata Mountains, Hermosa Valley and Animas Valley are within view.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Durango Area Chamber Resort Association, 111 South Camino Del Rio , Durango, CO, 81301, Phone: 800-463-8726, Fax: 970-385-7884, durango@frontier.net


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