Length: 4 Miles Round Trip
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
From Alamosa, drive 51 miles North on Highway 17, just beyond Joyful Journey Hot Springs. Stay right and merge onto County Road GG (don’t turn on to 285). The road becomes gravel and turns to the East toward the mountains. After 6 miles when the road forks, take the left fork and head to the office parking lot for Valley View Hot Springs/Orient Land Trust.
Park in the office parking lot and ask in the office the best place to park for the trail that day. Valley View Hot Springs is sometimes very busy. Passes are required to go through the gate. No fee to hike. Pets are allowed on leash.
8,900 to 9,300 feet at the mine.
The trail follows the road through the rental cabins and facilities at Valley View Hot Springs. Views extend into the North end of the San Luis Valley across to the San Juans 60 miles to the west. The gravel road is a steady uphill grade that will turn into a steep creek valley. Don’t miss the sign for the left turn off the road to continue to the mine. The trail flattens out as you approach the mine. Security fences protect the deep drop-offs. Keep children and dogs close. Trail faces west and can occasionally be snowy and icy but the sun clears the trail fairly quickly except after cold winter storms.
The road is rocky and steep in several places. There are steep hillsides toward the top of trail.
Both are available at the office. A bathroom outhouse is available at the 1/2 mile mark up the trail.
Pleasures and Perils
This is a historical hike, wildlife hike and scenic hike! There are great views of the surrounding mountains above the valley. The trail is steep in places. There are old mining structures still in place and should be left alone. There is no cover available from thunderstorms.
The mine produced iron ore from 1880-1931. The ore was hauled by train to Pueblo Colorado and the processing plants are still there. The town of Orient served the miners and and has an interesting history. Up to 250,000 male bats from a colony in Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico spend the months of June through September feeding at night on the insects in the valley. They have become important to the agriculture of the valley for controlling the insect population.
Valley View Hot Springs is a clothing optional facility and visitors may encounter these hikers on the trail. The hot springs are unique as they flow out of the mountains above. They create soaking pools, supply the facility with water, and flow down the mountain to create the electricity and heat for the whole complex. It is the most sustainable village in Colorado. There are guided bat hikes during the summer. Orient Land Trust is closed in the month of December.