Continental Divide Trail – Eldorado Lake
elevation gain & Loss
POINTS OF INTEREST
ABOUT YOUR TRIP
This is a 4-day base camp trip with 2 layover day. The first day leaves from Cunningham Gulch and is an 8-mile hike (elevation gain 2,000 feet) along the Continental Divide Trail/Colorado Trail across the tundra. There are amazing views of some of the most beautiful peaks of the Weminuche Wilderness – Vestal, Arrow and the three Trinity Peaks. The trail continues to a cirque lake, Eldorado nestled against the Grenadier Mountain Range. The next two days are layover days to explore this wonderful mountain range. The last day is another day along the Colorado Trail/Continental Divide Trail which goes back to our starting point in Cunningham Gulch (elevation loss 2,000 feet).
Detailed: Highland Mary Trail Loop, Starting at Cunningham Gulch hike 2.5-miles on the Continental Divide/Highland Mary Lakes loop trail to segment 24 of the Colorado Trail CO Trail Segment 24. Follow highlighted route 4.5-miles to the junction of Eldorado Lake. Hike 1 more mile to the camp at Eldorado Lake.
As the largest wilderness in Colorado, this area contains a significant portion of the San Juan Mountains. The Weminuche is surrounded by the incredible Colorado true mountain towns of Durango, Silverton, and Pagosa Springs. The area is known for its rugged terrain that is as diverse as it is spectacular. It ranges from the gaping Animas River gorge to the tops of distinguished peaks in the Needle Range that sprawl immediately to the east. The Weminuche wilderness consists of an abundance of prominent jagged peaks. The unique formations are a result of volcanic and ice age activity. The northern end of the Needle Mountains is highlighted by a range of imposing peaks called the Grenadier Range. Most of our use is in this section with our camps strategically set up to explore the acclaimed mountains. This provides a solitude only found deep in the heart of the mountains. This region is notoriously less crowded due to it not containing the sought after 14,000-foot peaks. The range is littered with 13,000 foot plus peaks that are stunning, some of the most scenic country in the world. When not distracted by the breathtaking pinnacles, you can often find wildlife like mountain goats roaming the range.
Trip Highlight Video
GEAR AND AGREEMENTS
WHAT TO EXPECT
Our trips originate in the high mountain town of Silverton, Colorado (elevation 9,316 feet) which is a historic mining town boasting gorgeous Victorian architecture. It’s renowned for its mountainous beauty and vivid alpine landscape, truly a postcard setting. Located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado it’s self-contained with a wide variety lodging options. Whether budget conscious, or looking for something higher end, there are accommodations suited for all tastes. The dining scene is also nicely varied with many choices (www.silvertoncolorado.com).
It is highly recommended that clients come at least a few days ahead of time to acclimate to the altitude. The nearby local airports are either Durango La Plata CO (DRO) or Montrose Telluride, CO (MTJ), and the closest major airports are Albuquerque International, NM (ABQ) or Denver International, CO. (DEN). There are many activities the surrounding areas provide, including but not limited to: exceptional hiking, jeep or ATV rentals to explore the remote high country, Mesa Verde National Park, Narrow Gauge Railroad from Durango to Silverton train ride, mountain bike rentals and alpine slide at Purgatory, and outings to the nearby towns of Ouray (home of the famous natural hot springs!), the plush resort town of Telluride, and the historic town of Durango.
Our headquarters are located in Silverton at 1708 Greene St. There is an orientation meeting the night before the trip at 6 PM where the clients meet their guides, go over the details of the trip; they also receive their panniers (llama bags) which they take back to their hotel to pack up their gear that evening. The next morning at 8:30 the trip departs from the HQ (parking for clients cars available) to the trailhead. The trips return at 2-3 PM on the last day.