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Backpacking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Conejos Peak Ranger District

Quick Facts

El Rito Azul Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,320 Feet (3217.0 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,140 Feet (355.4 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,460 Feet (3572.3 Meters)
Length, One-way: 3.5 Miles (5.83 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 718
Usage: Moderate to Heavy
USGS Maps: Platoro, Chama Peak

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

El Rito Azul Trail, looking downstream - 1975
Copyright: Unknown
El Rito Azul Trail, looking downstream - 1975
The El Rito Azul Trail #718 begins in Three Forks Park and follows El Rito Azul to Blue Lake. The visitor passes through stands of spruce-fir alternating with open meadows. Magnificent views await the visitor at trail's end.

The trail is entirely within the boundaries of the South San Juan Wilderness Area. Access to the Continental Divide Trail #813 is provided by this trail. This offers the visitor many possibilities for side trips and/or loops. This trail was reconstructed in the summer of 1981.

Directions from Platoro, Colorado: Take Forest Development Road # 250 west 1.4 miles to Forest Development Road # 247. Proceed on Forest Road # 247 6 miles to its end at Three Forks Trailhead. Take Three Forks Trail #712, 2.0 miles to El Rito Azul Trailhead.

Directions: Continental Divide Trail #813 junctions with the El Rito Azul Trail at Blue Lake.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: Year-round .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cold Water Fishing Blue Lake
ICON Hiking & Walking El Rito Azul Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Spruce-fir alternating with open meadows
ICON Mountain Biking Spruce-fir alternating with open meadows
ICON Viewing Scenery Magnificent views at trail's end

Related Activities
Blue Lake - Located in the South San Juan Wilderness, access is by foot or horse travel only. This scenic lake is heavily used. Brown and brook trout can be caught here.

Continental Divide - Blue Lake to Elwood Pass Tra - Visitors will be rewarded with spectacular vistas in all directions. Due to the exposed nature of most of this trail, extremely close watch should be kept on weather conditions.

Continental Divide - Cumbres Pass to Blue Lake Tra - This is a short segment of the entire Continental Divide Trail but the terrain differs considerably from that of most of the divide.

Middle Fork Conejos River Trail - The trail follows the edge of an alpine meadow and offers a spectacular view of the Continental Divide with a glacial valley in the foreground.

North Fork Conejos River Trail - This trail is entirely within the boundaries of the South San Juan Wilderness Area. The trail rises steeply through several switchbacks and then back into a meadow, eventually viewing the Continental Divide.

Three Forks Trail - The trailhead starts from the parking area at the end of Forest Development Road # 247.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Conejos Peak Ranger Station, 15571 County Road T-5, P.O. Box 420 , La Jara, CO, 81140, Phone: 719-274-8971, TTY: 719-274-3139


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