Wildflower Season Brings Scenic Hikes – The Journal

Wildflower season is in full bloom along the Horse Creek Trail. (Jim Mimiaga / The Journal)

Wildflowers bloom in the San Juan Mountains and thrive on all the rain. Here are three trails to see them.

Horse Creek Trail: This trail is on Colorado Highway 145 between mile markers 48 and 49. The trail is just north of the gate used to close the freeway. The Horse Creek Trail is 3.7 miles long. It starts at Forest Road 423 – Horse Gulch Road and ends at Forest Trail 208 – the Calico Trail. The trail is open for hiking, biking and horseback riding. This trail is closed to all motor vehicles. Respect private property along this trail.

East Fork Trail: This trail is accessible from Colorado Highway 145 on Lizard Head Pass. The trailhead is across the highway from the more popular Cross Mountain Trail.

Turn east and south on Forest Road 204 to reach the East Fork Trailhead. The trail descends to the sources of the Dolores river. The trail is open to hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and motorcycling.

The East Fork Trail is teeming with wildflowers. (Jim Mimiaga / The Journal)

Lake of Hope: The 3.2 mile (6.4 mile round trip) Hope Lake Trail begins in a deep forest with many tumultuous streams, waterfalls, and a lush green landscape of mosses, grasses, and wildflowers.

From Cortez, take Colorado Highway 145 to Trout Lake. Continue along the coastal road for 1.5 km, then keep left on forest road 627. Continue on this rocky road for 2.5 km to the trailhead. High clearance is preferable, but regular cars run smoothly on the road; take it easy. Take note of the excellent free car camping opportunities along the way.

Hope Lake is a popular high altitude hike to beat the summer heat, and the trail passes through fields of wildflowers. (Jim Mimiaga / The Journal)

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