High Country Trail System

High Country Trail System

This high elevation trail system boasts 14 trails! Always be prepared for rapid weather changes, wildlife and sun/heat exposure when enjoying these scenic views.

Potato Lake Trail- A 2 mile trail around the lake with scenic views. This is an easier hike. Don’t forget to bring the fishing poles.

Columbine Lake Trail- Begins as the Ruby Drainage Trail and turns into the Columbine Lake Trail. An 8.3 mile trail that is considered a difficult level. Coming from the east, off of Route 550, you will not need a high clearance 4×4 vehicle to access the trailhead. But if you come up from the west, across the pass, you would need a high clearance 4×4. The turn for the road to the trailhead is just below the parking for OPUS Hut. Follow the an unnamed dead-end road east. You can park along the road near the trailhead.

Crater Lake Trail- About a 5.4 mile trail that begins at Andrews Lake south of Molas Pass on US 550. There is some elevation gains and switchbacks on this trail. Once you get to the downed tree area you’re pretty close to the lake.

White Creek Trail- Advanced high country trail with an elevation gain of 1950′ and a length of 8.7 miles. You can access this trail from Highland Mary Lakes Trail. You will pass Lost Lake and Verde Lake. Look for wild flowers in July and August!

Highland Mary Lakes Trail- Visit 3 of the 7 Highland Mary lakes and all of the Verde Lakes on this 3 mile, alpine country trail. This trail has stunning views with an elevation gain of 1300 ft.  The trail can be done as an out-and-back or turned into a loop by following a segment of the Continental Divide Trail.

Deer Creek Trail- An advanced 4.7 mile trail with an elevation gain of 2100 ft.

West Lime Creek Trail- A beautiful 2.5 mile trail filled with beauty, waterfalls, and wild flowers in the summer.

Graysill Trail- 3 mile advanced trail with an elevation gains/ascends of 1,770 ft.

East Fork Trail- Mainly used for biking, 6.5 mile trail. It begins at Forest Road 204/East Fork Rd. and ends at Forest Road 578/ Hermosa Park Rd. Can be used for horseback riding, motorcycle trail riding, hiking and mountain biking.

Engineer Mountain Trail- This is a difficult trail with beautiful high country views. Loose rock and switchbacks make this trail a challenge.  The most direct ascent starts at Coal Bank Pass on Highway 550 and goes up the Pass Creek Trail. Please be prepared in alpine landscapes, weather can change rapidly.

Coal Creek Trail- This is a 3 mile connector trail that allows access to Engineer Trail from Hwy 550.

Pass Creek Trail- 2.7 mile trail that meets Engineer Mountain Trail.

Cunningham Gulch- 1.8 mile trail that ends at the Colorado/Continental Divide Trail. There is an upper and lower section to Cunningham Gulch. High clearance 4×4 is required for the upper trail and 4×4 is recommended for the lower section.

Cascade Creek Trail- 8 mile trail that passes scenic waterfalls and Engine Creek. Trail gives passage from Durango to Silverton.

Many of the high country trails have proximate parking areas and access points; however, Purgatory Resort acts as a “hub” for high country adventure. From Durango heading north on Highway 550, take a left into Purgatory Resort (Purgatory Blvd) and park in one of the many parking areas at the resort. 

Remember, you must have a valid fishing license to fish in Colorado!