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

Quick Facts

North Fork Conejos River Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,300 Feet (3210.7 Meters)
Difficulty: Moderate
Ending Elevation: 11,540 Feet (3597.3 Meters)
Length, One-way: 3.4 Miles (5.67 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 714
Usage: Light
USGS Maps: Summit Peak

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This trail is entirely within the boundaries of the South San Juan Wilderness Area.

The trail starts at the western edge of an alpine meadow about .4 mile from the Three Forks sign. The trail follows the North Fork of the Conejos River. Shortly after starting, the trail enters an Engelmann spruce and alpine fir stand. While in the conifer stand, the trail rises steeply through several switchbacks and then back into a meadow. The meadow is long and narrow with very steep slopes on both sides. For about the next mile, the trail passes through the meadow and climbs little in elevation. At this point, the hiker begins to get a view of the Continental Divide. The trail crosses the river .5 mile from the end of the meadow. The trail then enters a conifer stand and begins the final rise to the Continental Divide Trail. When hikers reach the trail junctions, they have the opportunity to hike north or south along the Continental Divide Trail #813.

Directions: From the junction with the Middle Fork Conejos River Trail #712. The junction is 2.3 miles from the parking area trailhead, which is at the end of the Forest Development Road # 247.

Directions from Continental Divide Trail: Via Continental Divide Trail #813.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: May through September .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Adrienne Giesbrecht
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The hardest part was crossing creeks and streams. The cattle had made a real mess of it and it was almost impossible to cross without getting our feet all muddy and full of cow manure. Get a walking stick to help balance when crossing on the few rocks the cattle have not tromped down
Conditions: Mosquitos were few. we didn't use any insect repellant.
Water Availability: There was plenty of water. We had a steri pen along and no one got sick. There are too many cattle tromping in and out of the water to not treat it unless you want to take the risk of getting sick.
Recommended Clothing: We wore layers of clothing. I took a down jacket along and never used it except as a pillow. Very lovely weather. There was only a small sprinkle one day.
Suggested Accessories: We took fishing poles but didn't see any fish or have any luck in the Conejos river. We used a hiking stick which we just picked up along the way.

Filed By: Adrienne Miller (Santa Fe, NM)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My party of 3 walked for 12 hours to do a loop trail at Conejos River Headwaters. Our miles per hour rate on this trip was less than 2. After the 3 Forks Trail, we ascended the Middle Fork Trail, saw Conejos Falls and then Lake Ann. There are some trail markers, and the clear visibility through the valley makes it easy enough to identify or make sense of the landmarks nearby if one has a topo map. However, once getting close to the turn for Lake Ann, we found that the trails are not well signed and often disappear in spots. We found our way by asking other hikers we met. After Lake Ann, we got onto the Continental Divide Trail to head NorthEast for the North fork Trail, and enjoyed seeing a large herd of elk as we neared the summit of our trip. At our high point on the Divide Trail we were stunned by the beauty of the views surrounding us, and could easily see the North Fork Valley below us as well as numerous peaks and high ridgelines. Unfortunately, it was already past 5 pm, and we needed to hustle down. At this point we made a mistaken turn onto a side trail and did not ever connect with the North Fork Trail. We bushwacked our way down, carefully avoiding some sheer igneous cliffs and falls, through steep and thickly forested slopes via various deer/elk paths and lightly used horse/walking trails. We were relieved to get back to the Middle Fork Trail before dark, and made it back to our camp near the Middle Fork trailhead by 9 or 9:30 pm. We think some extra trail markings up on top would be useful, because it was easy to feel confused. There are some tiny lakes on top which don't show up on the topo maps, and it's difficult to tell exactly where you are up there. We think we may have seen a wolverine up near our summit, and a bird that looked like a piper in one of the tiny shallow lakes. Not a huge amount of flowers in this area this summer, but still quite beatiful. Some fishermen told us they cought no fish at Lake Ann, saying this was unusual since the fishing is usually great there. Several dead fish in Lake Ann, those same fishermen thought something was killing off the fish there. GAZZillions of grasshoppers and another insect we thought might be locusts, maybe they ate all the flowers? Fairly dry, most of the false hellebore looked yellow and dried and stressed. Next time I think I will skip Lake Ann, and try to have more time to enjoy the views on the summit of the Continental Divide section of the loop, and time to be sure and find the North Fork Trail connection. I think we probably missed out on some excellent views by cutting down where we did, although we may have cut some miles off of our trip too, which may have been a blessing for us since the darkness was rapidly approaching. A great adventure!!
Conditions: Nice campsite at Conejos falls! It takes about 1.5 hours to drive Forest Rd 250 from Colorado Highway 17 to the 3 Forks (#712) Trailhead. Good gravel road, 2 wheel drive, well maintained. No mosqiotos, lots of flies and horse/deer flies. A huge herd of cows in valley near 712 trail head, fun to hear them communicate with eachother as they stretched out over a mile through the valley.
Water Availability: you can replenish water supplies nearly anywhere, though in most places you might have to go off the trail a bit to get to the river. Easy access to water above the Conejos Falls, nice place to rest too with view of both the falls and the Divide.
Recommended Clothing: we wore shorts, tshirts, and hats. Carried raingear and extra layers. We would not have been warm enough with what we carried if we had ended up sleeping up there because we were lost!
Suggested Accessories: No special gear.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cold Water Fishing North Fork Conejos River
ICON Hiking & Walking North Fork Conejos River Trail
ICON Horseback Riding The trail rises steeply through several switchbacks and then back into a meadow.

Related Activities
Conejos River - The Conejos River provides more than 30 stream miles of high quality wild trout fishing. The Conejos River has more public fishing access along its length than any other major river in Colorado.

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.

El Rito Azul Trail - 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-fire alternating with open meadows. Magnificent views await the visitor at trails end.

El Rito Azul, North Fork Conejos, Middle Fork Cone - All three drainages begin below the Continental Divide and converge in Three Forks Park to form the Conejos River. The creeks lie in the South San Juan Wilderness.

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.

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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