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North Crestone Trail

Length: 7 to 11.4 Miles Round Trip 

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult 

 

Driving Instructions

From Alamosa, drive 37 miles North on Highway 17 to Moffat and 13 miles east to Crestone on County Road T. At the junction in Crestone take the left onto CR 71, which becomes Golden. Take to S. Alder and then take left on Alder (north) through town and turn right on Mica for 1 block east. In a block Mica will turn north and become CR 71 officially out of town. Follow for 2 miles uphill. It will turn to gravel. Go past 12 campsites on right and road will end at trailhead.

Trailhead Parking

There is usually always parking. It may be busy on weekends and holidays. Free. Pets are allowed on leash. This trail is open June through October, but may be open much later depending on snowfall. It is a good trail for snowshoeing in winter.

Elevations

8,610 feet at trailhead and 11,840 feet at North Crestone Lake. 3,230 feet elevation gain one way.

Description

The trail goes through forests of pine and aspen trees along the creek. Its a long steady grade uphill, but minimal switchbacks. Several trails come off of this trail and interconnect with others. It offers scenic views without crowds and provides deep access into the mountain valleys of the Sangre de Cristos. This trail is beautiful in the fall with changing aspens.

Terrain

It goes from dirt, to gravel and rocks but is well maintained. A few small streams cut across trail.

Water/Bathrooms

In town of Crestone. Bathrooms at Campground. Water along trail with proper filter or treatments.

Pleasures and Perils

This is a low use trail as there is no access to 14ers. Good solitude. Steady grade along the beautiful creek makes for easy hiking. Once elevation is gained, big views back into valley or up to the geologic wonders of the higher peaks above treeline. High elevations can make it tough for breathing. Be prepared in summer for changing weather and thunderstorms. Hot and sunny at trailhead can yield cool to almost cold temperatures 3 thousand feet higher.

Significance

Because this valley gets low usage and has never had mining activities, it is quite pristine and represents the best of what the Sangre de Cristos have to offer. A great area for wilderness backpacking experiences.

Notes

The layout of the valleys up this creek make it difficult to get lost as the mountains are very steep and all the small creeks funnel into North Crestone Creek.

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