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

Quick Facts

Duck Lake Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,900 Feet (2774.3 Meters)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Ending Elevation: 10,040 Feet (3129.7 Meters) Ends at Duck Lake
Length, One-way: 7.0 Miles (11.67 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 732
Usage: Heavy
USGS Maps: Cumbres

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Conejos River Road north of Stunner Pass
Copyright: Unknown
Conejos River Road north of Stunner Pass
The Duck Lake Trail traverses a high forested bench above Elk Creek that was carved into the valley wall by the glaciers that filled the valley over 28,000 years ago. The bench falls gradually to Elk Creek but is bounded on the south by a steep cliff or volcanic rock. Duck Lake, Rock Lake, Beaver Lake and several small beaver ponds lie on this bench. The lakes feed streams tributary to Elk Creek. Duck Lake feeds a tributary of South Elk Creek, which dissects the bench before joining Elk Creek at First Meadows.

The South San Juan Wilderness is entered about half way up the trail. Beyond this point motorized equipment is prohibited.

Water is available along the trail as it passes by numerous streams and lakes; water should be treated before consumption. Adequate parking is available at the trailhead.

The Duck Lake Trail is fairly steep for the first mile, as it climbs to the bench above Elk Creek. The remaining two miles of trail traverses gently rolling terrain, providing a leisurely, scenic hike. The trail passes through forests of aspen and fir, where blue grouse can often be seen. Fresh subalpine meadows surround the old beaver ponds and lakes. Duck Lake is popular for fishing and is probably the main attraction to people traveling the Duck Lake Trail. At several points along the trial, spectacular views into the Conejos River Valley reward the hiker. Just below Duck Lake, the hiker can see a waterfall where South Elk Creek tumbles over a high ledge.

Directions from Antonito, Colorado: Follow Highway 17 to the Elk Creek Campground turnoff, 23 miles west of Antonito. Take the left fork of this access road and follow it 1.5 miles past Elk Creek campground, Old La Manga campground, and the La Manga Summer Home Group. The trailhead is at the road's end.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: May through October .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Mark Hill (Coppell, TX)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I have fished this lake for the past five years. The fishing WAS fantastic in the past. You could literally catch a brook trout every cast and they were large (12"-16"). However, last year the beavers dissappeared both here and at Beaver Lake. The dam they constructed is now in total disrepair and the lake is drying up. The fish are all unhealthy, starving, and small. If you know anyone to contact that can help save this lake, please tell them
Water Availability: 1.5 liters of water was adequate. Plenty of freshwater streams but there are cattle grazing.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Camping At Elk Creek Campground
ICON Cold Water Fishing Streams and lakes along the way
ICON Hiking & Walking Duck Lake Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Fairly steep for the first mile

Related Activities
Elk Creek Campground - Elk Creek Campground has 31 sites with picnic tables and fireplaces and 14 overflow campsites (no picnic tables or fireplaces). There is public access to the Conejos River and Elk Creek.

Elk Creek Trail - The Elk Creek Trail is popular with hikers, fishermen, and horseback riders and it provides an ideal day hike for those camping at Elk Creek or Old La Manga campgrounds.

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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