South San Juan Wilderness Trails
Many call the South San Juan Wilderness Colorado’s wildest corner. True, the landscape here of broken volcanic peaks and cliffs poses a formidable barrier to travel, but the overriding reason for this reputation resides in the potential presence of one critter—the “griz.” Of all the places in Colorado likely to still harbor North America’s most fearsome creature, the rugged and remote southern San Juan Mountains seem best suited. This, coupled with the fact that Colorado’s last confirmed sighting of a grizzly bear occurred in 1979, indicate that a remnant grizzly population may still survive here. The South San Juan Wilderness contains some of Colorado’s finest examples of aspen, spruce-fir, and ponderosa pine forests. As erosion wore down the rock, the volcanic materials dissolved into rich dark soil, which, in combination with the area’s deep winter snowpacks, supports lush forests. Stately ponderosa pines and their park-like manicured undergrowth grace the watersheds of the San Juan River and its tributaries. Higher in elevation, unbroken groves of aspen quake silently in summer and blaze brilliant gold in fall. Dark, cool forests of Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir cling to the steep volcanic slopes, and rolling tundra skirts windswept crags along the Continental Divide. Because of the impenetrable forests and rugged terrain, state wildlife biologists rate the south San Juans the best-suited habitat in Colorado for wilderness-dependent species, such as grizzlies and wolverines, which thrive only in unmodified natural habitats rarely visited by humans. Both of the species were long thought to be extinct in Colorado, but circumstantial evidence points to their possible continued existence here. This trail guide includes descriptions of Chama Basin, Summit Peak, Fish Lake, No Name Lake, Quartz Lake, Conejos Peak/South Fork Conejos River, Elk Creek/Valle Victoria, Middle Fork Conejos River, Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and Quartz Ridge.
We cannot find this location: please try again.
Directions to: South San Juan Wilderness Trailsprint directions
Trail Statistics & Information
|Nearby City||Pagosa Springs|
|Skill Level||Moderate to Strenuous|
|Season||Best Spring through Fall|
|Trailhead Elevation||8,200 ft|
|Top Elevation||13,300 ft|
REI MEMBERS: SAVE $20 on a Trails.com Subscription
Subscribe to Trails.com for just $29.95 a year and gain full access to over 49,000 professional trail guides, high-res USGS topo maps & much more!