Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Trails
Viewed from the San Luis Valley, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains extend literally to the ends of the horizon. The wilderness area includes almost the entire range north of Blanca Peak, spanning 70 miles to its terminus at Salida. (The southern end of the range in Colorado remains mostly in private ownership in several large ranches.) The Sangre de Cristos hold a unique geologic place among the Colorado mountain ranges. The only fault-block mountains in the state, the Sangre de Cristos easily rate as the most abrupt, with peaks that soar 7,000 feet above the San Luis and Wet Mountain valleys in only a few horizontal miles. During the mountain-building episodes of the last 25 million years, great faults developed on either side of the San Luis Valley. As the continent arched upward, the valley and so-called Rio Grande rift zone maintained their places while the surrounding mountains thrust skyward in massive blocks. The Sangre de Cristos form the eastern boundary of this extraordinary rift, and the sheer topography creates countless cascading creeks and waterfalls as snowmelt collects and plunges into the valleys below. Glaciers carved dozens of alpine cirques, most dotted with lakes now frequented by anglers and hikers. The Sangre de Cristos are a narrow range, in some places only 6 to 8 miles wide. Steep ridges line the deep, tapered valleys and pose an impediment to intervalley travel, so most hikes proceed up and down the same valley. The abrupt leap from valley to peak creates an equally abrupt ecological transition. Pinyon-juniper forests line the lowest slopes, and in the span of a couple of miles the ecology changes to empty alpine tundra. In between, the forests range through ponderosa pine, aspen, spruce, and fir. This trail guide includes descriptions of Bushnell Lakes, Huerfano Basin, Hunts Lake, Lakes Of The Clouds, South Colony Lakes, Willow Creek Lakes, Brush Creek Lakes, Venable/Comanche, Ute/Huerfano Trails, and Black Mountain Trail, Cotton Creek to North Crestone Creek.
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Directions to: Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Trailsprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Skill Level||Easy to Strenuous|
|Season||Best Spring through Fall|
|Trailhead Elevation||8,000 ft|
|Top Elevation||14,294 ft|
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