Hiking Local Mountain Trails

There are a number of U.S Forest Service hiking trails around the Vallecito Lake area. Many begin right off of paved roads while others are off of U.S. Forest Service gravel roads. Click Here to See Lodging, Restaurant, and Adventure Specials.


Trail Courtesy - Be courteous to others when hiking. Remember horses can be spooked by unseen sources. Show respect by making your presence known. Step off the lower side of the trail while they pass.

Altitude Sickness - When hiking in higher elevations, it is easy to experience altitude sickness. Symptoms include nausea, insomnia, restlessness, headache, nasal congestion and becoming easily fatigued. To adapt to the change in elevation, eat lightly, avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water. Rest appropriately and do not over exert yourself.

Travel Time - In the Colorado Mountains, hiking conditions are most favorable from June to October, If you travel in the spring, snow may inhibit your trip. Keep in mind that July and August afternoon thunderstorms are common.

First Aid - When hiking remember to bring a first aid kit. Make your own. Bring water, adhesive bandages, antiseptic, aspirin, eye wash, adhesive tape, insect repellent, sun screen, tweezers and lip balm.

Tread Lightly - Pack out what you pack in. Leave the beauty of the land for others to enjoy.

Below you can read about local trails. Our Chamber of Commerce produces a brochure showing a map where the trailheads are located. Click on the pop out sidebar link to receive your copy. If you would like actual trail maps you will need to get them from any number of map resellers or the USFS San Juan National Forest - http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/sanjuan/maps-pubs


Click Here to view Recreation Brochure

Creek Trail - Easy to Moderate
A stunning day hike, or a great four-to-five day backpack trip. You follow rapidly flowing Vallecito creek tumbling down a narrow glacial valley; the creek is among the loveliest in the West. In the first 2 miles you will rise more than 500 ft. above the creek with fantastic vistas, then the trail drops down right beside the creek. There are many side trails that lead to beautiful pools, great for fishing or relaxing. The first foot bridge, at 3 miles, is a great day hike. The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers in late July and in August. In the spring the creek is a committed Class V+ whitewater run for experts only. In the winter a popular snowshoeing trail.

Lake Eileen Trail - Difficult
Watch for the Forest Service Work Center on CR 501 north of the lake, the trailhead is on opposite side of road. A trailhead sign is visible from the road. Park on the east side of the road, the trailhead is on the west side. The trail passes through aspen forests to the small, shallow lake covered by water lilies and surrounded by aspen trees. A short climb to the ridge gives you great views of the lake and forests. All though only four miles round trip, there is a 1,140
ft. elevation gain, allow up to four hours.

The Lake Trails - Easy
Most portions of this trail skirt the edge of the Lake. Watch for “Walk Path” signs as you drive around the Lake. There are benches and picnic tables along the way and plenty of fine fishing spots. There is a “Flowers from the Lake trails” brochure available at many businesses to help you identify the wildflowers.

North Canyon, East Creek & Graham Creek Trails - Moderate
These trails head up the ridges on the east side of Lake, following creeks with water falls to open meadows.

Pine River Trail  - Easy to Moderate
The Pine River alternates between meadows and canyon, frequently flowing peacefully on the flat valley floor. The boundary of the Weminuche Wilderness is 2.7 miles up the trail, the fishing is fantastic, and the turnoff to Emerald Lake is at mile 6.3 (Trail #528). The trail continues to ascend, sometimes gradually and sometimes moderately.

Cave Basin Trail  - Most Difficult - map skills suggested
Drive up Middle Mountain Road (USFS Road # 724 - gravel) to the turn off at the ten mile marker. Cave Basin Trail begins at an elevation of 10,800 ft. If you go all the way you’ll end at an elevation of 12,360 ft. (the Overlook of Emerald Lake). Ten mile round trip, but any portion of is great way to experience some high elevation hiking. The trail starts off wide and well defined but disappears after about 3 miles due to the gray limestone that forms benches. Use your map and compass skills to progress across the gray limestone benches, past meadows and sinkholes. The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers in late July and in August. This area offers excellent views and photographic possibilities. As with all high-altitude areas, storms can move in rapidly bringing severe wind, lightning, rain, snow, or hail any time of the year. Plan accordingly.

Tuckerville Trail - Easy
Follow directions to Cave Basin Trail and continue to the end of road 11 miles to an open area which was the mining town of Tuckerville. All the building have been removed, there were 6 bunkhouses, shop, and a mess hall, in full operation from 1920 to 1929. There are many trails leaving from there, some starting as ATV trails. If you bear left you will reach a wonderful overlook where there were mines in the cliffs below.