Hiking The Conejos Peak Trail
The 45th most popular hiking trail in Colorado.
Thursday 29 March 2018 04:46 GMT
Southeast of Pagosa Springs, the Conejos Peak Trail (#720) is a route open to hikers and horseback riders.
To reach the trailhead from Alamosa, head south on US285. In Antonito, turn west on SR17 for 22 miles. Turn north on FS250 for about 10 miles heading past Rocky Mountain Lodge and the Old Thomas Ranch. Turn left into parking area.
The South San Juan Wilderness is entered a short distance from the start of the trail. Motorized equipment is prohibited the entire length of this trail.
The climb from the Conejos River valley is strenuous but once on the ridge leading to Conejos Peak the trail is less steep.
On the way to Conejos Peak, the trail does not cross any permanent streams and hikers are advised to carry sufficient drinking water. Water found along the trail should be treated before consumption. Campsites can be found along the entire trail.
The Conejos Peak Trail heads to the north from the footbridge, crossing over the glacial moraines that fill the valley of the South Fork Conejos River. The northern branch of the South Fork Trail #724 takes off westward about 1/4 mile from the bridge. The trail begins its long steep climbs from the Conejos River Valley, passing through forests of aspen and mixed conifers Following Roaring Gulch, an intermittent tributary to the Conejos River, one can catch frequent glimpses into the canyon far below.
After a steady climb through the montane and subalpine zones, the ridge that stretches from the Conejos Canyon west to the summit of Conejos Peak is reached. Several rounded peaks rise from the ridge. The highest of these peaks encircles Bear Lake 600 feet below. A short side stop to a low saddle overlooking the lake, provides a good vantage point.
The trail traverses this ridge, staying above 12,000 feet within the alpine tundra zone. The northern face of the ridge drops sharply into the Saddle Creek Valley; steep glacial cirques lie at the head of the tributaries. The southern slope, in contrast, falls gently to a forested plateau lying above the South Fork of the Conejos River. The plateau is dissected by the steep, U-shaped glacial valleys of Canon Rincon and Hansen Creek. These contrast between plateau and valley tundra and forest, provide stimulation views and opportunities for photography.
Overall, Conejos Peak Trail is the 45th most popular hiking trail of all 72 hikes in Colorado.