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Fishing: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Saguache Ranger District

Quick Facts

Rito Alto Trail

Beginning Elevation: 8,600 Feet (2680.8 Meters)
Difficulty: More Difficult
Elevation Gain: 3,320 Feet (1034.9 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,920 Feet (3715.7 Meters) Ends at junction with North Fork Crestone Trail #747 east of Rito Alto Lake.
Length, One-way: 7.0 Miles (11.67 Kilometers)
Trail Number: 745
Usage: Heavy
USGS Maps: Electric Peak, Mirage

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Close-up of a sunflower
Copyright: Unknown
Close-up of a sunflower
The trail ascends a rugged, steep canyon with diverse vegetation and is well marked. The upper part of the drainage is very steep. Attractions are fishing in the creek and lake, and big game. A primitive route to Blind Lake takes off about 3.0 miles above the forest boundary. The route is steep and well maintained to Rito Alto Lake.

Trail connects with Cotton Creek Trail 749 and North Fork Crestone Trail 747

Directions from Moffat, Colorado: Go north on Colorado Highway 17 for approximately 7.5 miles, then go east 5.0 miles on the Mirage Lane Road (Road AA). After traveling 5.0 miles, turn south for 2 1/2 miles (you will cross Wild Cherry Creek). Then, turn east for approximately 3 1/2 miles to new trailhead. The trail is closed to motorized traffic.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: May through September .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Pfennig (Colorado Springs, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The lake and surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and vistas are gorgeous. A long walk. 7 miles and over 3000 feet. Exploring around the lake is the most fun. The first 4-5 miles is interesting, but not exciting. You need to stay two nights to make the long hike worth it. We had the lake to ourselves over this late July weekend. Elk and deer are abundant. The lake has fish. Lots of photography subjects.
Conditions: The trail was very easy to follow and very well maintained. Dry desert-like vegetation for the first 4 miles and after that, it became very lush and gorgeous. The trail was not overly steep, but very long. Mosquitos are crazy in the mornings and evenings above 10,000 feet. Around the lake they are intense. Very wet this time of year. Everything is VERY green. After a rain you will get wet walking around and the trail is muddy, but most muddy areas have rocks placed in them for easy walking. The first 2-3 miles are mostly sunny, the majority of the remaining 4-5 miles is shady.
Water Availability: Water is everywhere. From the creek which the trail follows all the way to the lake to all the tiny streams running into the lake. The lake must be fed by at least 6 feeder streams. We filtered our water with an MSR pump from a feeder stream.
Recommended Clothing: Keep rain gear closeby. A good tent that can keep you dry this time of year. Later in Sept would not be as important. Bring bug spray and sun screen / hats. Wind was not a problem.
Suggested Accessories: Plenty of camping spots on the west side of the lake in the woods. Many with firerings already established. Some with EXCELLENT views. Fire starter in case it rains. Wood gathering requires a trip at least 75yards from your camp.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cold Water Fishing In the creek and lake
ICON Hiking & Walking Rito Alto Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Rugged; well marked; steep canyon
ICON Big Game Hunting in season
ICON Viewing Wildlife Big game

Related Activities
Cotton Creek Trail - The trail is well marked and maintained. It follows the creek through a rugged, steep canyon and diverse scenery. Teacup Lake presents an opportunity for primitive route-finding.

North Crestone Creek Campground - North Crestone Campground is in the narrow valley of North Crestone Creek at the base of Sangre de Cristo Range.

North Crestone Creek Trail - The trail offers excellent possibilities for extended backpacking or just a good day hike from the campground. Attractions are fishing the creek and lake, excellent scenery, waterfalls and opportunity to see bighorn sheep and occasionally bear.

North Crestone Loop Trail - The trail exists as a connector between Comanche Lake and the North Crestone drainage. The trail offers spectacular viewing near Phantom Terrace.

North Fork Crestone Trail - The trail is in good condition and offers numerous possibilities for circuit routes with other trails lasting from 2 days to a week. This route is a photographer's dream.

Venable Creek Trail - The trail exists as a connector between the North Crestone drainage and Venable Lakes. The trail travels mostly alpine vegetation and rugged high terrain.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Saguache Ranger Station, 46525 Colorado Highway 114, P.O. Box 67 , Saguache, CO, 81149, Phone: 719-655-2553, TTY: 719-655-2547


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