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4 Day Trip in the South San Juan Wilderness

  • Jul 4, 2013 · 9:30 AM

This exploratory as I have not been on any of the trails before.  They are well documented.

We'll be camping in one of the meadows along Elk Creek, at Chama Lake and along the Valle Victoria trail.  We'll be on three trails: Elk Creek, Valle Victoria and the CDT.

Here is some descriptive material regarding the area.

The Valle Victoria Trail provides access to the high country between Elk Creek and the South Fork of the Conejos River. This area is characterized by numerous lakes and interspersed subalpine meadows and forests.

The Valle Victoria trail traverses the subalpine lake country lying between the Elk Creek and South Fork Conejos River drainages. The interspersed subalpine meadows and forest provide habitat to a wide variety of wildlife species, including coyote, black bear, and large herds of elk.

The trail is well used and hikers should be able to follow it easily. The trail may disappear temporarily in wet meadow areas. Water sources are abundant along the entire route, but water should be treated before consumption.

By traveling a short distance off the beaten track, you may reach the heads of numerous spectacularly scenic canyons that descend to Elk Creek or the South Fork Conejos River from this plateau: Canon Escondido, Victoria Gulch, and the upper reaches of Elk Creek. Adventurous hikers may desire to hike down one of these canyons to join the trails following these streams, although established trails may not exist.

Elk Creek provides excellent opportunities for trout fishing along its entire length. The trail follows Elk Creek from its confluence with the Conejos River to its upper reaches and passes through a variety of terrain including deep canyons and wide meadowed valleys. The trail is well traveled by fishermen, hikers and horse packers and is easy to follow. Suitable camping sites are dispersed along the valley. Water from Elk Creek can be filtered for drinking. Parking is availabe at the Trailhead

The trail joins the Continental Divide Scenic Trail #813. Other trails which can be reached via the El Creek Trail are the Notch Trail #729 and the Rough Creek Trail #727.

The total mileage for this hike will be between 35 and 40 miles over the four days.  I will be screening to ensure that everyone is capable.  I will consider having a subgroup that is there for four days but stays in one location and day hikes.

We'll meet at the Elk Creek trail head just off of highway 17.  It can be reached via Chama, NM or from Antonito, CO.  Either route is about the same distance coming from ABQ or Santa Fe.

There is a campground there if there are folks who want to drive up Wednesday night.  I am planning to spend most of the summer and early fall on the road in Colorado and points north and west, so I will already be up there and others will need to organize car pools.

If the number of hikers from this group is small I may offer it to the Colorado backpackers as well.

We'll start out on the Elk Creek Trail.  The trip will involve a big loop with a tail from the trail head to the loop and a short tail down to Chama Lake.

You can go ahead and get on the waiting list now if you want but I will not start moving people to yes rsvps until I send out an email sometime in May to the waiting list folks to see who is still interested.

Please Note: Anyone attending our trips must have a signed Waiver & Release Form on file with us. This covers all trips and activities so you only have to sign it once. If you have not already signed this form, it can be downloaded from our "Pages" section and turned in to the organizer when you arrive for the trip.

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  • Jeff D.

    Just a question ... Is anyone going to be posting any photos?

    July 9, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Hi Jeff. Corrie posted some pictures. I'll get around to it next week if I can't do it today which is looking doubtful.

      July 10, 2013

  • Jeff D.

    For those who attended 4 Day Trip in the South San Juan Wilderness, your video of your trip:

    http://youtu.be/1wmvq49vehs

    July 10, 2013

  • Gary

    Here’s a link to the pics that I posted on the Colorado Backpackers site. It was nice to meet you all.

    http://www.meetup.com/ColoradoBackpackers/photos/15977412/

    July 9, 2013

  • Paula

    A very nice trip (hail and all). Thank you Keith for organizing. Thank you all for good company.

    July 7, 2013

  • Michael

    Keith,
    I drove around could not find you at campground or Elk Creek trailhead...I will plan on seeing you tomorrow morning by 9am at Elk Creek TH.
    Mike

    July 3, 2013

  • Danielle

    I'll be at the trail head Thursday morning. Looking forward to a great trip!

    July 3, 2013

  • Keith F.

    I do not expect to be online again until Monday. See you Wednesday or Thursday.

    July 2, 2013

  • Keith F.

    I will be camping at the trail head Wednesday evening. It's been raining here a lot. Hopefully, we'll get a break over the weekend.

    July 2, 2013

  • Paula

    I am planning on driving up Thursday morning. I need to be back in Albuquerque in the early afternoon on Sunday so I will be hiking out early or slightly revising the itinerary. If you would prefer to drive up Thursday and have a way to get back, let me know as there will be plenty of room in my car.

    June 30, 2013

  • Keith F.

    If you are coming up on Wednesday evening look for my green Nissan Quest minivan. I might be in the campground or in the camping area at the trail head. There is a huge area for camping at the trail head but with the long weekend it will be quite crowded so get here (I'm already near by) as soon as you can.

    June 30, 2013

  • Betsy C.

    Hi Keith,
    I'm a new member and live in Pagosa Springs. We've been in that area and it is quite lovely. Can't make it July 4th as there are big doin's around here during that time. I just want to share with you that quite often there are cattle in those meadows. While they make for a lovely western scene, they also make the water not so lovely in the meandering Elk Creek. I normally pack with purification tablets but we also share a filter for this trip in case we get water from Elk in the cattle-prone areas. Y'all have fun.

    April 13, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Hi Betsy. Unfortunately the cattle droppings are a problem throughout the southwest. I always filter my water and I believe everyone else in the group does also. Thanks for the tip. Hope to see you on the trails.

      April 13, 2013

    • Keith F.

      I was up there this past weekend and talked to the rancher. He has 370 head of cattle spread from one end to the other. Tent caterpillars are more of a nuisance right now but they aren't up where we will camp.

      June 25, 2013

  • David H

    Sorry, but i have to pull out of this trip. I have business trip that came up the following week and must fly out Sunday morning.

    June 22, 2013

  • Craig

    I plan to be up there independently, so someone can take my place.

    June 7, 2013

  • Dean

    Any one in or around Albuquerque wanna carpool? I gotta new car and I can't wait to take a road trip in it!!

    May 20, 2013

  • Marc

    Cool trip. Wish I could go. Schedule gets packed on Holiday weekends. I am planning to do Blue Lake and Lake Ann hopefully end of June or mid July. Never done it, but heard cool stories bout the area. Have fun!

    April 24, 2013

    • Keith F.

      We tried that a couple of years ago on the 4th weekend but there was too much snow on the CDT between the two lakes. Blue Lake is beautiful. I may do that loop later in the summer.

      April 24, 2013

  • Keith F.

    There are now 5 people from Colorado confirmed for this with 6 more on the waiting list. I'll probably go with 15 total which is the limit for the wilderness.

    April 22, 2013

  • Dean

    This area is GORGEOUS!!!

    April 21, 2013

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