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Exploratory - San Juan Wilderness: South Fork/Conejos Peak/Roaring Gulch Loop

  • Aug 2, 2013 · 10:15 AM

Note: This trip is being posted on the NM Backpacking Meetup site as well.  If interested in going, please sign-up on the wait list.   There is a limit of seven for this trip, both NM and CO combined.

Who Should Attend: Active backpackers that like distance and elevation gains along with beautiful scenery.

Hike Description: This is an EXPLORATORY backpacking trip. Exploratory means that I have not been on this trail before, so we might make a wrong turn or two.  If you have a low tolerance for making wrong turns, then you should reconsider attending.  In addition to exploratory, this is a strenuous trip due to approximately 4,300ft. of elevation gain and more than 25+ miles of backpacking.  However, it will be a stunning trip based on what I know about the area and the guidebook meadows, aspens, evergreens, lakes, sweeping views, wildlife, etc.

Day 1: Drive up Friday morning to the South Fork trailhead where we will begin our trip. We will backpack in on the South Fork Trail about 11 miles and camp at Blue Lake for the night.

Day 2: The next day we will continue on Glacier Lake Trail and check out Glacier Lake (2.5 miles).  Trip Option: There is an option on this day to summit Conejos Peak at 13,172ft.  If you are not interested, you can hangout and enjoy the peacefulness of Glacier Lake. We will decide if we want to camp at Glacier Lake or continue to Twin Lakes about two miles away. Approx. Miles: 8-10 miles, if you choose the Conejos Trip; if not it is only about 5 miles.

Day 3: On Sunday, we backpack out on the Roaring Gulch Trail to our vehicles. Approx. Miles: 8 or so.

Late Lunch: On the way home, we will make a stop at the High Country Restaurant in Chama, for a late lunch.

Meeting Location/Directions: South Fork Trailhead, South San Juan Wilderness, Colorado - Take Forest Road 250 which is located off of Route 17, which is in between Chama, NM and Antonito, Co. Look for the sign that says Platoro on Rt. 17 because there is no road signage for Forest Road 250 until you are actually on the road.  You can only turn one way on Forest Road 250.  Then drive 11.1 miles on a washboard dirt road and there will be a sign and plenty of parking for the South Fork Trailhead.

Road Conditions: Improved dirt roads will be our means to get to the trailhead. A high clearance, 4wd is not required, but the road was washboard in sections mid-July.

Dogs: Not allowed this time because it is an exploratory hike.

Deadline Info: The deadline for changing a "Yes" RSVP to a "No" RSVP is Wednesday, July 31, 2013. If you RSVP "Yes" for this trip, please plan on attending. Please read our RSVP Policy located in our "Pages" section.

Trip Rating: Strenuous, due to elevation gain 4,300ft.

Total Trail Length: Approximately 25+ miles

Elevation Range: Approx. 8,600ft. to 12,000ft.

Expected Temps: 80s day, 30s night


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  • Manijeh

    Hi, I was planning to rent a tent from my school's rec center. But they are out of tents. Can I still come?

    July 29, 2013

  • Manijeh

    Sharon, I am in Fort Collins, don't have a car and was planing to get to Denver by bus and then carpool with someone. But now I am checking bus schedules and see that the earliest I can be in Denver is 7:28 at Westminster Center Park-n-Ride or 7:44 at Market Street Station. So I am guessing this is not a good option. I am thinking if someone from Fort Collins joins the meetup I probably can carpool with them. Or maybe I find a better option. So for now I would like to keep my RSVP, yes; of coarse if that is okay with you. thanks

    July 23, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Manijeh, I can offer you one solution but it's certainly not ideal. If you catch the bus on Thursday (5:35am) to Alamosa, I could pick you up there (6:45pm) and we could camp near the trail head. I'll be up in the area anyway and will be camping either at a campground or at a free place near the TH. Being an old guy I get campground sites at half price and I would be paying anyway so you would not need to chip in. We would have to camp again on Sunday night and you would catch a return bus at 6:20 am on Monday morning. Driving you back would not be an inconvenience for me, as I'll be heading up to Buena Vista anyway. Sharon can vouch that I'm not a slasher or anything and that I'm very reliable. No chance of you standing at a bus stop with no ride unless I'm dead. A lot of time on the bus and very early departures but if you're game, let me know.

      July 25, 2013

    • Sharon E.

      Hi Manijeh, Yes, I will vouch for Keith...he is a good guy and reliable. I have known him for over three years and I have hiked with him countless times. -Sharon

      July 28, 2013

  • Manijeh

    Hi, how can I join this trip?

    July 23, 2013

    • Sharon E.

      Hi Manijeh....all you have to do is sign up on the wait list and then I will move you to attending. -Sharon

      July 23, 2013

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