Vallecito Trail (529)

Area Status: Open
This area is Open
 

Vallecito Creek Trail #529 traverses north-south through almost the entirty of the Weminuche Wildernss. The trail begins in the Vallecito Campground and travels north until it reaches Hunchback Pass along the Continental Divide Trail #813.

The trail begins easy and flat meadering along the campground for about 0.6 miles (a great hike with kids). Once it reaches the Weminuche Wilderness, the trail climbs through a deep canyon with ponderosa pine forest, aspen and conifers as it parallels Vallecito Creek. You will cross Taylor Creek, Vallecito Creek (via bridge around 3 miles), and Second Creek (via bridge around 5.5 miles) as you continue on through meadows and aspen groves. Around 7 miles, the trail crosses Vallecito Creek but this third bridge is gone due to an avalanche in the winter of 2004-2005. The avalanche debris was cleared from the trail in fall 2007. There are no plans at this time to replace the bridge, so it is necessary for hikers to ford the creek so prepare to get your feet wet. Vallecito Creek is challenging to ford, and is especially dangerous during the spring runoff (mid May through Mid June). Please use good judgment and extreme caution if you choose to ford Vallecito Creek.

Around 9 miles, Johnson Creek Trail #821 heads off to the west and up to Columbine Pass. After 11 miles you will cross Roell Creek. The junction with Rock Creek Trail #655 is at about 15 miles. Look for waterfalls, cascades, and pools as the trail steepens as you reach the Continental Divide Trail. After approximately 18 miles, there is an unsigned trail to your right (east). This is the Continental Divide Trail heading east towards Nebo Pass. Stay left. The steepest part of the hike is the ascent to Hunchback Pass at 19.4 miles. The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers in late July and in August. This area provides excellent views and photographic possibilities.

Water can be found off the trail in most of the tributaries, but due to Giardia it should be filtered. As with all high altitude areas, storms can move in rapidly, bringing severe wind, lightning, rain, snow, or hail. Plan accordingly.

Click here for infomration on a point-to-point backpacking trip connecting Vallecito Creek, Rock Creek, Flint Creek and Pine River Trails.

Fishing: Brook, rainbow, and brown trout can be caught in Vallecito Creek.

  • Distance (one-way): 19.5 miles
  • Minimum/starting elevation: 7,900 feet (Vallecito Trailhead)
  • Maximum/ending elevation: 12,490 feet (Hunchback Pass)

 

At a Glance

Best Season: Summer and Fall
Restrictions: This trail is located in the Weminuche Wilderness. Please review the full list of  Wilderness Regulations which include the following:
  • 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: Practice Leave No Trace
Information Center: Columbine Ranger District

General Information

Directions:

From Durango, CO: Travel 17 miles on Florida Road, County Road #240. Turn left onto County Road #501 for approximately 9.5 miles through the community of Vallecito. Turn left onto County Road 500 and head approximately 3 miles to campground entrance. Trailhead parking is on your left.

From Bayfield, CO: Take County Road 501 approximately 20 miles through the community of Vallecito. Turn left onto County Road 500 and head approximately 3 miles to campground entrance. Trailhead parking is on your left.


Activities


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Areas & Activities

Location

 
  Area/Length : 
19.5 miles

  Elevation : 
7,900' - 12,490'

 



https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sanjuan/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=43290&actid=50