Pine River Trail (523)

Area Status: Open

Starting at the Pine River Traihead, Pine River Trail #523 heads through a private gate next to Granite Peaks Ranch. Please stay on the trail and camping/fishing is prohibited until you reach the Weminuche Wilderness boundary at 2.7 miles. Aspens, ponderosa pines, and conifers are in abundance along the trail as you follow the Pine (or Piños) River north.

Lake Fork Trail #528 turns off to the north at mile 6.3. The Pine River continues to ascend, sometimes gradually, sometimes moderately, and occasionally steeply, to Weminuche Pass. The trail provides access to Flint Creek Trail #527, Divide Lakes Trail #539, Weminuche Trail #525 (starting in Rio Grande NF), and ends at the Continental Divide Trail.  The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers in late July and in August. Enjoy the excellent views and photographic possibilities. Water can be found off the trail in most of the tributaries.

Fishing: The Pine River is inaccessible for the first 2.7 miles of trail, but from the Wilderness boundary to the Continental Divide, the river offers some of the finest fly-fishing found anywhere. The trout in the Wilderness are wild fish. They include rainbows, brookies, browns, and cutthroats. Please check the fishing regulations regarding limits, allowable lures, and restrictions on certain lakes, rivers, etc.

  • Distance (one-way): 23.2 miles
  • Minimum/starting elevation: 7,870 feet
  • Maximum/ending elevation: 10,600 feet (at Weminuche Pass, the lowest point along the Continental Divide within the Weminuche Wilderness.)

At a Glance

Best Season: Summer and Fall
Restrictions: This trail is located in the Weminuche Wilderness. Please review the Weminuche Wilderness Regulations for full list of regulations and restrictions. Regulations include:
  • Possession of motorized equipment or motorized means of transport are not permitted.
  • Mechanized means of transport are not permitted (mountain bikes).
  • Flying drones is not permitted over congressionally designated wilderness areas or primitive areas as many people seek these places for the opportunities for solitude and quiet that they provide.
  • Group size is limited to 15 people.
  • Combination of people and stock = 25.
  • Dogs under control.
  • No unattended campfires.
  • Camping is not allowed within 100 feet of any water source.
  • Outfitter-guides who receive any form of compensation must obtain a special-use permit to operate on public land.
  • Check trailhead signs or Forest Service Offices for site-specific camping, campfire, and livestock regulations.
  • Practice leave no trace ethics.
Closest Towns: Durango, CO
Bayfield, CO
Water: Purification recommended
Restroom: Seasonal vault toliet at trailhead. Practice Leave No Trace on trail.
Information Center: Columbine Ranger District

General Information


From Durango, CO: Head north on Florida Road (CR #240) for 14 miles. Continue on CR #240 for 2 miles past the turnoff for Lemon Reservoir. Turn north onto CR #501 for12 miles around northern end of Vallecito Reservoir. Turn left on the Pine River Road, FS #602. Follow road 3.8 miles to the Pine River Campground.

From Bayfield, CO: Head north on County Road (CR) #501, Vallecito Road, 22 miles around the northern end of Vallecito Reservoir. Turn left on the Pine River Road, FS #602. Follow road 3.8 miles to the Pine River Campground.

USGS Maps: Vallecito Reservoir, Granite Peak, Emerald Lake, Granite Lake, Weminuche Pass


River and Stream Fishing

Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
23.2 miles

  Elevation : 
7,870' - 10,600'