At Altitude

The hikes described here begin at altitudes above 8,000 feet and several top out at 12,000 feet. Each hike is classified as “easy” to “difficult.” Only those in good physical condition should attempt the difficult hikes. Remember, when you go downhill you will have to climb back up when you return. Pace yourself, drink water and eat snacks to help prevent altitude sickness. Symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, and weakness or drowsiness. If affected, descend quickly. If symptoms persist, seek medical aid. 

#1 Fourmile Falls (#569) 

Length: 7.6 miles  |  Difficulty: Moderate

Take Lewis Street north, veer left immediately on 5th street; stay right on Fourmile Road for 8 miles; (CR 400/FS 645); right at junction to the trailhead. Trailhead elevation is 9,200 feet. The hike is approximately 3 miles each way. The first 3 miles is relatively easy through an open valley. After the waterfall, the trail becomes steep and is not recommended for stock. Hikers should proceed with caution. Fourmile Falls is one of the more popular points of interest and the trail in can be quite crowded on pleasant summer days. 

#2 Piedra Falls (#671)

Length: .5 miles  |  Difficulty: Easy

Drive north on Piedra Road (CR 600/FS 631) 17.8 miles to the junction at Sportsman’s Supply. Leave Piedra Road and continue on Middle Fork Road (FS 636) for 2 miles. Take the first road to the right, East Toner Road (FS 637), it is 7.5 miles to the end. Trailhead elevation is 8,419 feet. Do not attempt this road in wet weather. The hike is 1/2 mile each way. A great hike for all ages. Walk upstream to a head gate where the trail begins. The trail continues above and west of the head gate and river to the falls. The hike is about 15 minutes each way. 

#3 Treasure Falls (#563) 

Length: .5 miles  |  Difficulty: Easy

Treasure Falls is named for Treasure Mountain, an area rich in folklore and stories of a large buried treasure. Most accounts suggest that a treasure chest full of gold was buried in the area after a group of Frenchmen were “waylaid” by either Spanish explorers or Native Americans. Whatever the circumstances, Treasure Falls offers visitors a breathtaking fortune in scenery.

To get there, take U.S. 160 east for 15 miles; right into a large parking area. Trailhead elevation is 8,112 feet. To the left of the parking lot is a short trail that will take you to the base of the falls. Follow the trail 1/4 mile to the bridge at the base of the falls. There is a more difficult trail to the right that also leads to the waterfall. Standing in the refreshing spray on the bridge, the falls rush down the cliff toward you. In the winter, these falls create a frozen blue sculpture. Elevation gain is 325 feet. 

#4 Opal Lake (#564) 

Length: 1 mile  |  Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Drive south on U.S. 84 from Pagosa Springs approximately 8 miles to Blanco Basin Road (CR 326). After driving 10 miles, turn right across the Blanco River Bridge. Follow the Castle Creek Road (FS 660) to the signed junction for the Opal Lake Trailhead. Turn right and drive a short distance to the trailhead on the right. The trail to Opal Lake is 1 mile and takes about 45 minutes to hike. A portion of the trail is steep before it traverses an open meadow to the lake. The lake is bordered by wooded hillsides and a sheer mountain face. Minerals deposited at the inlet give the lake its milky color.

#5 Williams Creek (#587)

Length: 10.1 miles  |  Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Drive north on Piedra Road (CR 600) about 22 miles. Turn right on Williams Creek Road (FS 640) and go past Williams Creek Reservoir and Cimarrona Campground, continuing on to the trailhead at the end of the road. The trail follows Williams Creek northward into the Weminuche Wilderness. The old Spanish name for Williams Creek was Huerto — garden-like. The first few miles of Williams Creek trail give the impression of a gigantic walled garden. Across the creek to the right is a group of peaks eroded from volcanic rock. Set your own destination — it continues on to the Continental Divide.

#6 Turkey Creek Trail (#580) 

Length: 5.2 miles  |  Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Drive 7.3 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 160 to Jackson Mountain Road (FS 37) on the left. Follow it for 4 miles to the end of the road. This trail is the longest in this section of the Weminuche Wilderness. It is 20 miles from the trailhead through breathtaking scenery to the Continental Divide. Choose your own destination here. The 5-mile hike will take you to the first creek crossing.

#7 Piedra River Trail (#596) 

Length: 11.2 miles  |  Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

The upper terminus of the trail begins on the Piedra Road (CR 600), about 16 miles north of town. After crossing the Piedra River the trailhead parking lot is on the left. The trail starts on the canyon rim and then descends to the river. Sheer cliffs rise on both sides for over several hundred feet. This is an easy trail if you only go the 3.5 miles to the footbridge. For a longer hike, follow the river for another 8.5 miles. The trail passes several box canyons to end at the bridge on the First Fork of the Piedra Road. Confirm that First Fork Road (FS 622) is open and shuttle a vehicle to the First Fork Bridge for the longer hike.

#8 Continental Divide Trail North (#813)

Length: Depends  |  Difficulty: Easy/Difficult

Turn left on the dirt road just past the Continental Divide marker at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass. Drive 1.5 miles to the Lobo Overlook parking area and microwave tower site. The trail begins behind the microwave tower and follows the Continental Divide, which is the backbone of the continent and the dividing line for eastern and western watersheds. From the trailhead, you can embark on an easy day hike or begin an extended backcountry journey. Hiking options along the Continental Divide trail seem limitless.

#9 Anderson Trail (#579) 

Length: 9.3 miles  |  Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

See Fourmile Falls Trail for directions. This trail begins at the Fourmile Trailhead, to the left of the Fourmile Trail. This trail climbs steadily for about 4 miles to skirt the east side of Pagosa Peak. There is a 2,600 foot ascent. The summit of the peak is 12,640 feet. The trail continues on to Fourmile Lake. It is about 2 miles to the junction with the Fourmile Trail. From the junction, it is 6 miles back to the trailhead and very steep in some areas. Snow will linger on this trail into early summer. Check conditions before you go.

#10 Cimarrona Trail (#586)

Length: 8.5 miles  |  Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Drive north on Piedra Road (CR 600) to Williams Lake Road. The trail begins on the left side of Williams Lake Road just beyond the entrance of Cimarrona Campground. The first 2 miles of trail are moderately easy, wandering through conifer and aspen stands. Then, many switchbacks start a steep ascent. Choose your destination — the trail continues on to the Continental Divide Trail at Squaw Pass.

#11 Continental Divide, Alberta Peak (#813)

Length: 2.5 miles  |  Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

Travel east on U.S. 160 22.6 miles to the summit of Wolf Creek Pass. The trail begins on the south side of the road, just east of the Continental Divide information kiosk. A trail travels south and climbs to the west of Wolf Creek Ski Area. It then leads to rocky ridges on the west side of Alberta Peak. The trail to the top of the peak (11,870 feet) is not marked, although a 15- to 20-minute scramble will take you to the top. There are many beautiful vistas along the ridge.

#12 West Fork or Rainbow Trail (#561)

Length: 11.6 miles  |  Difficulty: Moderate

Drive on U.S. 160 East for 14 miles, turn left on West Fork Road (FS 648) for 3 miles passing a campground and the river. Trailhead elevation is 9,040 feet. 13 miles from trailhead to Continental Divide at Piedra Pass, this trail ascends 3,600 feet with several stream crossings and steep grades. Portions of this trail cross private property so please stay on the trail. At 4.5 miles, there is a junction with the Beaver Creek Trail (#560), which is closed to through traffic due to safety concerns. Camping is permitted only in designated sites. Highest point is 11,700 feet. The combination of the West Fork Trail and Turkey Creek Trail is known as the Rainbow Trail. 

#13 Ice Cave Ridge Trail 

Length: .5 miles  |  Difficulty: Easy

Drive to the Piedra River Trail (596) parking area to access this trail. From the parking area, start on the Piedra River Trail for several hundred yards, then follow the old road bed to the right. This is an easy, short trail up Ice Cave Ridge. The fissures on the side of the ridge contain snow deposited through the winter and hidden from the sun. After melting and compressing, the ice remains in the fissures as late as the end of June. From the ridge at the top, you have a good view of the Piedra Valley and other ridges. Use caution when viewing the ice fissures. Watch your footing, keep children near you and dogs leashed.

#14 Treasure Mountain Trail (#565)

Length: 8.1 miles  |  Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

A spectacular trail to Windy Pass starts from the East Fork Road. Drive 8 miles northeast on U.S. 160, turn right on the East Fork Road and travel approximately 7 miles to the trailhead. A small sign on the left side of the road marks the trailhead. After approximately 3 miles, the Windy Pass Trail from the southwest intersects this trail in a large scenic park. Windy Pass is about 3/4 of a mile to the west of this junction. You can return the way you came up, or go down to U.S. 160 (if you left a car there). You could go to the top of Windy Pass from U.S. 160, but it isn’t as scenic.