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South Colony Lake Approach



4.3 mile 6.9 kilometer point to point
82% Runnable


Ascent: 1,803' 550 m
Descent: -15' -4 m
High: 11,672' 3,558 m
Low: 9,878' 3,011 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


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Trail shared by Tyler Prince

An easy run into one of the most stunning alpine basins of Colorado.

Tyler Prince

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Dogs must be leashed. You'll see few dogs, as the peaks accessed by this trail are technical. This trailhead may only be reached by 4WD car and is closed at a 2WD access point lower down during the winter.

Runner Notes

With an easy grade and largely rock-free trail, this makes for an excellent run into a scenic area.


From Westcliffe, head south on CO 69. Drive 4.5 miles and turn right on Colfax Lane. Drive 5.5 miles to the end of this road and turn right onto 120, driving 1 mile on a dirt road to a junction. Parking will be on the right for 2WD cars; 4WD cars with good clearance can continue 2.7 miles up a choppy road to the trailhead.

From the well-signed 4WD trailhead (9,900 ft) cross a slick wooden footbridge. Continue 2.5 miles with minimal elevation gain up an old 4WD road, now closed for years, before reaching a trail junction. Although both trails will take you to South Colony Lake, stay left to remain on the more straightforward path.

Cross a river on another slick log bridge and immediately come to a gravel clearing, at the end of which is a rusted metal gate (11,300 ft). The upper TH used to be here. Continue past the gate and into a clearing at 11,400 ft, where the road narrows and turns into a singletrack trail. Continue on a clearly marked class 1 trail with few rocks or roots and minimal elevation gain, passing through trees and bushes before coming to a network of streams below South Colony Lake (11,600 ft).

Continue up the trail, eventually coming to a set of campsites to the right and a sign marked "Crestone Needle: Standard Route" to the left. Heading right will take you to camp and toward the Humboldt Peak Trail; heading left will take you up more difficult terrain to Broken Hand Pass, which serves as the jumping-off point for Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.

Flora & Fauna

You will see a wide range of trees and wildflowers, and once near the lake pika, marmots, deer, and bighorn sheep. Like in the rest of the Sangre de Cristo Range, bears are not a rare sighting.

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Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 6 votes


  4.7 from 6 votes
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in Colorado


41 Views Last Month
4,565 Since Mar 3, 2015



Sunrise over the Crestones
Jan 27, 2018 near Crestone, CO
Upper South Colony Lake
Jan 27, 2018 near Crestone, CO
Crestone Needle (14,197') from Lower South Colony Lake area
Jan 27, 2018 near Crestone, CO
Beautiful South Colony Lake scenery.
Mar 4, 2015 near Crestone, CO
Crestone Needle pops into view toward the end of the South Colony Lake approach.
Mar 4, 2015 near Crestone, CO
Ice road hiker
Jan 27, 2018 near Crestone, CO


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