Apr 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm #1289168
Hi. I'm looking for recommendations on a loop in So Colorado, something in the mountains/higher elevations. We'll be out for 3 nights/ 4 days at 8-12 miles a day, around 3rd week of June (so I guess about a 35-40 mile loop). Thanks in advance, I don't know much about this area.Apr 30, 2012 at 10:13 am #1872714
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
Here's a handy map of Wilderness areas in Colorado:
At least it can give you ideas to research.
When are you doing the hike? And what do you mean by "southern" Colorado? The southern half of the state, or the southern third, etc.?
It has been a really disappointing snow year here- the snow pack is only 60% of average- but there was still an annoying amount of snow at the higher elevations in the San Juans when I drove through in the first week of April. At anything other that truly alpine elevations, though, almost everything is passable by now. maybe someone else can give you more recent conditions.
That said, if you're doing this a couple of months from now the San Juan and Weminuche wildernesses are on MY life list. Both have many trails that can be hitched together into loops of varying length. Just buy the appropriate Trails Illustrated map and make a route. there's even a hot springs just a day-hike in to the Weminuche.
The Sangre de Cristos don't have as many loop possibilities, but there are a few. I remember researching them a while ago but never got to do the hike. You can also cross the mountains into Great Sand Dunes National Park if you like, fitting any of the several passes together- use one going and another coming back. That'd be epic, but possibly longer than you want.
I'll try to remember to peek at my maps when I get home and see if I can be more specific.Apr 30, 2012 at 11:11 am #1872747
Thanks for the reply. Since I posted my request, we've narrowed it to the San Juans. We'll be there around June 22. Any advice greatly appreciated!Apr 30, 2012 at 11:36 am #1872753
Look at the Weminuche Wilderness area for sure. The Ute Creek semi loop looks like it would fit the bill. It starts off at the Ute Creek trailhead by the Rio Grande Reservior. Its a 26 mile loop, but you can extend that if you're up to it, as there are a few connecting trails in the area including the CDT (which you'll get to hike on for a portion of the loop). I did it about 4 summers ago and had a blast. Bring your fishing pole.
Also there's a Falcon Guide for the Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness areas thats a great resource.
Let me know if you have any more questions about that loop.May 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm #1873676
Thanks for the suggestion on the Ute Creek loop. I'll do some research on it and that area and get back to you! If another loop comes to mind, feel free to let me know. Really appreciate it.May 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm #1873807
You could combine a loop with the Durango Narrow Gauge train. Head up around the North side from Needletown (sp?) and come down into Chicago basin and then back down to the train. Chicago basin can get crowded with the Fourteener climbers and watch out for the goats.
The first couple days you are high and exposed after leaving the timberline.
Let me talk to my brother, we did the loop about 10 years ago. He can get the details right.May 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm #1875301
The only problem you might face is fording the Rio Grande in June. We were there last year mid June and the river was too high to ford. I came back in August and hiked up Ute Creek and down Weminuche creek for a nice 5 day trip. The river might come down enough in late June to be fordable, it just depends on winter snowfall and how quickly things melt.
Previously I hiked the Pine River trail to Emerald Lakes to Rock Lake, then down Flint Lake trail to Pine River trail.This hike is also in the Falcon Guide for the Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness.May 9, 2012 at 11:50 am #1875885
"The only problem you might face is fording the Rio Grande in June."
Currently Colorado's lowest snowpack is at 15 percent of average in the Upper Rio Grande Basin.Jun 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm #1890701
Thanks for the suggestions folks. We opted for the Ute Creek semi-loop, and ended up widening to the loop to put in more miles on the CDT. Man, what beautiful terrain up there! Amazing. And we even crossed paths with a couple of moose. That was definitely our wildlife highlight. Weather was good. Though, depending on winds, the vistas got hazy with smoke. A few patches of snow at higher elevations, but nothing to worry about (perfect for gatorade slushies). That said, the Rio Grande was very easy to cross at the trailhead, water was running low. I'm hoping to get back next year and do the 84 CDT miles running through the Weimenuche — my new mission in life.Jun 28, 2012 at 8:30 am #1890789
Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Charles! I’m curious as to how many people you saw up there. I remember going a stretch of about 48 hours and seeing not another soul.Jun 28, 2012 at 9:44 am #1890811
You know, we didn't see anybody on our first day, but after we ran into a few, but not many. Maybe 2 a day (including one couple hiking the CDT from Mexico to Canada), but on the way out, on a Monday no less, we passed 4 groups going in, including 2 high school-type groups of 10+. Kind of feel like we dodged the bullet on that one. Guess the word it out though, its a great time to hit the area.
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