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Venable - Comanche Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
  4.6 ( 5 ) Favorite

Trail

12.2 mile 19.7 kilometer loop
73% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 3,740' 1,140 m
Descent: -3,755' -1,144 m
High: 12,759' 3,889 m
Low: 9,055' 2,760 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 77% (38°)

Dogs

Off-leash
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Trail shared by Jason Doedderlein

A top-notch, high-altitude loop in the Sangres.

Jason Doedderlein

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views

Access is straightforward, but it is good to check snow conditions early or late in the season at higher elevations.

Overview

An absolute gem in the Sangres, where loops are hard to find, including lakes, views, aspens, and the "need to experience" phantom terrace.

Need to Know

From Westcliffe, drive south on CO 69 to Schoolfield Road (CR 140) and turn right. Go about six and a half miles to Alvarado Campground, then follow the signs to the Comanche-Venable Trailhead.

It is standard to go up Venable Trail #347 and return down Comanche Trail #746 as Comanche is a bit more steep. For backpacking I agree, but for trail running I prefer to power up Comanche Trail #746 and glide down the gentler Venable Trail #347. Chose direction according to your preferences, but the description here will be Comanche-Venable.

Runner Notes

The Phantom Terrace can freak some people out with height or vetigo issues. It is very exposed and narrow at parts with a steep drop. Definitely take note if you are expecting snow or ice.

Description

This loop starts at the Venable Trailhead (directions in "Need to Know" section) outside of Westcliffe.

Upon leaving the trailhead, simply follow the signs for Comanche Trail #746. This will take you up a long climb and after a couple of miles, you'll start paralleling Comanche Creek. Continue climbing, and suffer through the switchbacks and pop up above treeline. Not long after that, you'll come to Comanche Lakes, which is a good place to enjoy the view, rest, relax, and replenish.

From the lakes, you'll continue a short climb up Comanche Pass. At the pass, you'll hang a right onto Phantom Terrace #359 toward the northwest around the backside of Spring Mountain (it'll be to your right/east) to reach the saddle, which has spectacular views of the surrounding area and mountains and gives you a glimpse of the drainage you'll run down.

From the saddle, you'll descend and cross the most unique aspect of this run, the "phantom terrace", named so because it is hard to find from a distance given its location against the bare rock. This is a very cool section, but make sure you take caution if there is ice or snow expected.

Just past the Phantom Terrace, you'll connect with Venable Trail #347, which will take you down the drainage, and you'll soon reach Venable Lakes, another good place to simply "be" for a bit. From there continue to descend Venable Trail #347.

About 2 miles down, you'll come to a spur trail for Venable Falls. This is completely worth the short sidetrack, particularly is the creeks is really flowing. The power and the beauty are amazing and the spur is short.

Continue dropping past the falls all the way back down to Rainbow Trail where there will be a sign pointing you back to the parking lot, where hopefully you have a cold IPA and snacks waiting.

Flora & Fauna

Standard Sangre fare with some stretches with wonderful wildflower displays in early to mid-July

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Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes

#2

in Westcliffe

#1757

Overall
  4.6 from 5 votes
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Featured Run Rankings

#2

in Westcliffe

#258

in Colorado

#1,757

Overall
51 Views Last Month
2,056 Since Jun 3, 2019
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Looking over Comanche Lake to Comanche Peak.
Nov 3, 2016 near Crestone, CO
Looking up to Venable Pass and the early slopes of Venable Peak.
Nov 3, 2016 near Crestone, CO
A large talus field on Comanche Trail.
Nov 3, 2016 near Crestone, CO
View of Phantom Terrace
Jul 22, 2019 near Crestone, CO
The beautiful Sangres.
Nov 3, 2016 near Crestone, CO
Looking back to Comanche Peak.
Nov 3, 2016 near Crestone, CO

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