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Dry Creek Trail #1343

Difficult

A steep but short hike to a set of three solitary lakes high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.


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Map Key

3.2

Miles

5.2

KM

63%

Runnable

11,833' 3,607 m

High

9,264' 2,824 m

Low

2,569' 783 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

15%

Avg Grade (9°)

47%

Max Grade (25°)

Dogs Leashed

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

Description

From the Horn Creek trailhead, head uphill on the access trail beside the outhouse, take the first right after just 200 feet, then the next left. Follow this winding trail for one-quarter of a mile to catch the Rainbow Trail. Turning right, the Dry Creek trail is the first signed left.

The Dry Creek trail eases into a sustained rocky incline with only a few level spots. The undergrowth thrives at each seasonal creek it crosses, but the trail doesn't converge with Dry Creek until half mile in. From here, the next half mile parallels the creek, crossing at the first of many waterfalls about halfway through.

Nearly a mile in, the grade levels off in the wildflowers and the thick undergrowth beneath a grove of beetle-kill trees. At 1.5 miles, the trail veers away from the creek, and the forest grows quiet except for the birds. Narrowing on the side of a steep hillside, it levels again just before the 2 mile mark. Winding closer now to the scree piled below the cliffs on the southern wall of the basin, the trail pulls closer to the creek, and at a meadow, you can finally see into the upper basin.

Flattening, the trail wonders the forest for half a mile. Fallen trees sometimes block the way. From here, you can see this trail doesn't get much use.

Nearly 3 miles in, you'll reach the wilderness boundary. Steep switchbacks gain the final 270 feet below the lakes and the long valley where they sit. The trees transition to bushes, the terrain flattens, and suddenly, the trail ends above treeline at the first lake. There are two more lakes further up the basin, surrounded by willows which make them difficult to reach.

Flora & Fauna

Elk, deer, bighorn and black bears are common here, and I often hear coyotes barking while out in the Sangres.

Contacts

Shared By:

Caroline Cordsen

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#42185

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Trail Rankings

#3,199

in Colorado

#42,185

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211 Since Sep 15, 2020
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