Apr 6, 2010 at 5:49 pm #1257405
I've got 6-7 days in mid-July to do some backpacking w/ a few buddies. We're driving from Denver. I've been looking at the southwestern part of the state, Weimenuche and South San Juan Wildernesses.
As a group, we're relatively low-mileage people, average about 7 miles/day. Looking for solitude and wilderness (aren't we all?), scenery, avoiding horsepacker trails. Reasonable off trail adventure is fun, as are loops.
Any ideas to help me narrow the field a bit?Apr 7, 2010 at 7:09 am #1595216
I really like the South San Juans for backpacking, lots of wide open terrain at altitude and lots of wildlife, there are a couple loops I can think of here but may not be 6 day trips, more like 3-4 day trips although they can probably be extended by linking up with the CDT and still remain loops. The South Fork/Roaring Gulch loop around Conejos Peak can be extended by using linking trails up to the CDT and then around and back as one example.
In the Weminuche you can't go wrong with the Elk Park/Needleton loop and several nice lollipop loops can be made using the CDT trail on either side of the divide. A lollipop loop made with the Vallecito trail up to Rock lake to Flint Lake then over to the CDT at the Ute Lakes up to Mount Nebo and then back to the Vallecito trail is a route I've had my eye on in some variation or another.Apr 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm #1595531
Aaron, thx for the tips. Any thoughts on South San Juan vs. Weimanuche? Am I overlooking another good wilderness?Apr 7, 2010 at 11:11 pm #1595547
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Aaron while you're thinking about it mind if I through in a question of my own. I'll be traveling through CO in early June and want to meet my brother for a nice long trip. Do you think the CDT through the Weminuche area would be openned up by than?Apr 8, 2010 at 5:16 am #1595613
The S San Juan Wilderness is a great place. I did 5 days there last year, starting at the Conejos trailhead, then hiking up the Rito Azul trail and initially staying at Blue Lake, where we stayed two nights initially to acclimate, do some fishing, local exploring and peak bagging, then hiking across the Continental Divide a few more days to Adams Fork and back down to complete the loop. The two trailheads are maybe a mile apart. We were pulling some unbelievable cutthroat out of the Adams Fork.
The Weminuche is a really nice place too, but will have more crowds. The Chicago Basin area particularly. But the train ride and Elk Park/Needleton loop hike there is a fun experience if you've never done it.Apr 8, 2010 at 7:39 am #1595635
Generally speaking high passes and routes in Colorado are not snow free by early June, sometimes even early July to some extent. The CDT is a high route through the area. I am sure you could come up with something in the area though or plan routes that stay far enough below the passes and divide. It's too early to say how June will be though.
I don't know exactly where in Colorado you are passing through but the Lost Creek wilderness would have about a 25-30 mile mostly snow free loop by then.Apr 8, 2010 at 7:44 am #1595638
Your 6-7 day criteria is what makes s.w. Colorado a top choice, it has an abundance of longer trips, especially if you want to make it a loop or semi-loop.
You could also do a stretch of the CDT closer to Denver like in the Collegiate Peaks but it would require a shuttle vehicle. I have mapped out a 45 miles or so semi-loop in the Collegiates by piecing together several trails but I have not done more than one section of it myself.Jul 5, 2010 at 10:37 pm #1626504
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