San Juan Wilderness: Victoria Lake via Ruybalid Trailhead - Semi-Exploratory

Departure Time: 6:30am, please be prompt because we will leave at 6:35am.

Who Should Attend: Physically prepared and active backpackers.

Hike Description: This is a semi-EXPLORATORY backpacking trip. Semi-exploratory means that I have been on a portion of this trail, but not the entire trail to Victoria Lake located in South San Juan Wilderness, CO. The hike starts out incredibly strenuous with some 30 lung-busting switchbacks. They are some of the toughest switchbacks I have ever hiked, but after you get through that the scenery and beauty of the area is stunning.

Day 1: Arrive at the Ruybalid Trailhead at approximately 10:30am-ish to begin our backpacking trip. The switchbacks begin early and continue for 3.6 miles.  Then the elevation gain mellows and we continue on past Alverjones Lake and then to our destination - Victoria Lake. Approx. Miles: 7.9 Elevation: 8,500ft. to 10,800ft.

Optional Hiking Trip: After setting up camp on Day 1, those interested in hiking another 2.0 miles to see a great view of Conejos Peak are more than welcome to join me.

Day 2: Backpack out from Victoria Lake, with a detour stop off the trail to see a fairly impressive waterfall and then head back to our vehicles. Approx. Miles: 8.0

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

Road Conditions: Improved dirt roads will be our means to get to the trailhead. A high clearance, 4wd is not required, but the road may be rough in places, so an off road type vehicle is better like a truck or SUV.  Note: I take an 16-mile dirt backroad to Chama, which saves a half hour in drive time, plus it is scenic.

Also, there is another 8 miles of dirt road that is a little bumpy to get to the trailhead too.

I will be able to take three people in my Jeep, maybe 4, if we need to for the trip.

Dogs: Allowed as long as you agree to the following guidelines:

1. Hikers with dog(s) must carry a leash(es).

2. If we run into horses on the trail, you must leash your dog(s), especially if we run into some on the steep, narrow switchbacks.

3. Your dog(s) must be leashed while your fellow hikers are preparing and eating any of their meals.

4. If your dog(s), display aggressive behavior towards other dogs or people, you must leash them.

5. If your dog(s) are running back and forth on the trail and interfering with your fellow hikers, especially during the steep, narrow switchbacks, you must leash them.

Recommended Item: Bug Spray

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

Deadline Info: The deadline for changing a "Yes" RSVP to a "No" RSVP is July 15, 2013. If you RSVP "Yes" for this trip, please plan on attending. Please read our RSVP Policy located in our "Pages" section.

Drive Time to Trailhead/Camp Area on Friday: Approx. 3.5 - 4 hours from ABQ

Camp Area Location: Ruybalid Trailhead

Trip Rating: Strenuous, due to elevation gain

Total Trail Length: Approximately 16 miles

Elevation Range: 8,500ft. to 10,800ft.

Expected Temps: 80s day, 40s night



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  • Dave G.

    Thanks for the chance to go there again with such good company.

    July 21, 2013

  • Z

    Great trip with fun company and awesome luck with the weather

    July 21, 2013

  • Sharon E.

    Fun time with great weather made it a good little getaway backpacking trip!

    July 21, 2013

  • Sharon E.

    There have been some questions about the weather for tomorrow's trip. I still plan on going, but if you would like to change your RSVP that is okay (no penalties). It is only night, so if it does rain, I will chalk it up to some good experience. It would be nice to finally try out my rain gear, if it is actually needed. :-)

    July 19, 2013

  • Dave G.

    So you're thinking about a four hour drive to the trailhead?

    July 7, 2013

    • Sharon E.

      Hi Dave, It all depends on how fast you like to drive on dirt. The faster you drive on dirt the quicker the arrival time. :-)

      July 8, 2013

  • Sharon E.

    Hi there,
    I just noticed in this Comment Section that some people have wrote "put me down for 2 or add +1." I don't know if everyone is aware, but you cannot add additional members in the Comment Section. The Comment Section is not set up in that manner because it doesn't deduct from the attendance count. Attendance is only deducted from the RSVP list. Therefore, only one person has been counted, your second person has not been counted and as of right now attendance is full. So, I'm sorry, but at this time (6/18), you will not be able to bring a second person. However, you are more than welcome to have your second person sign up for the waitlist.
    If you have any questions, just let me know.

    June 18, 2013

  • Z

    I'll be coming from Santa fe

    June 17, 2013

  • Cory

    Bringing a +1

    June 14, 2013

  • Cherie G.

    Wish I could go but I have too much going on right now!

    June 10, 2013

  • Cherie G.

    Wish I could go but too much going on right now!

    June 10, 2013

  • Dave G.

    Have been to Alverjones and Victoria Lakes before by way of the Notch trail, but it has been a while. The smaller group size appeals to me.

    May 7, 2013

  • Barrie B.

    Put me down for 2 spots. I'll discuss it w my GF tomorrow. She should like the small group. If I can't make it I'll back out by this weekend giving other lots of time to sign up.

    May 6, 2013

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