Divide Lakes

(Weminuche Wilderness)

  • Rating: Difficult

  • Distance: 18.4 miles (out and back)

  • Elevation

    • Trailhead: 9130 feet

    • Max: 10,000 feet

    • Gain: 2000 ft (1 way), 3000 ft (round trip)

    • Lake: 10,000 feet

  • Road Status: Poison Park Road (FR644)

  • Trail: Weminuche (592) and Divide Lakes (539)

  • Trailhead Directions (31.1 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, CO)

  • Trail Map

  • Notes: Not recommended for day hikers.  On the way back, there's a 600-foot climb during the last 2.1 miles in order to reach the Poison Park parking lot. 

Divide Lakes are located deep in the Weminuche Wilderness northwest of Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  As the name implies, Divide Lakes are located directly atop the watershed divide between Weminuche Creek and the Pine River.  They are not located on the Continental Divide since both the streams are tributaries to the San Juan River.  The lakes are lower in elevation than most lakes in the Weminuche Wilderness and are more shallow, yet deep enough to support trout.  Unlike the lakes on the eastern side of the Weminuche Wilderness and the South San Juan Wilderness, granite rock outcrops and boulders cover the landscape.  

The lakes can be accessed via the Weminuche Trail (592), which begins at Poison Park above Williams Lake.  Access to the Weminuche Creek drainage is not ideal since the whole valley is privately owned.  As a result, the trail starts at 9130 feet and drops to the valley floor, 600 feet below, over the course of 2.1 miles.  This section of trail is well engineered and offers a few glimpses of the Weminuche Creek Valley, which is a classic, glacially carved U-shaped valley.  Look for evidence of the glacial past in the form of glacial erratics and glacial striations in the granite bedrock.  The terminal moraine is located at the lower end of the valley at a fairly low elevation of 8000 feet. 

At mile 2.1, the trail breaks out of the forest and offers views of the craggy side of the Weminuche Range.  The range has a distinct pinkish-white ash layer that is capped with hundreds of feet of volcanic breccia.  Both rock layers indicate an explosive volcanic past.  Hossick Creek Trail (585) diverges faintly to the right.  Near mile 2.2, the trail passes next to a fence corner.  Falls Creek Trail (673) parallels the fenceline to the left.  Continue straight and cross a shallow irrigation ditch that diverts water out of Hossick Creek.  At mile 2.5, you'll cross Hossick Creek, which can be difficult to cross at during high water.  Hossick Creek is at the lowest elevation on the trail (8470 ft) and you'll begin a fairly steady climb to the lakes. 

 

At mile 3.5, you'll cross Milk Creek, which is named for the color it turns when it entrains fine material from the pinkish-white volcanic ash layer high above.  The trail travels on the fridge of aspen-lined meadows, offering great mountain views.  At mile 6.8, the trail crosses the East Fork of the Weminuche, which can be difficult to cross at high water.  At mile 7.8, the Divide Lakes Trail (539) diverges to the left in a open meadow.  There's no trail sign.  Follow the Divide Lakes Trail 1.4 miles and you'll arrive at Divide Lakes.

Additional Option: The spectacular and remote Pine River Valley is located another half a mile down the trail beyond the lakes.  Just before you reach the valley floor, there's a Granite Lake sign next to a faint trail that diverges to the right.  Granite Lake is spectacular and is located another 2 miles from that point.

 
  • Instagram

©2018 by South San Juans. Proudly created with Wix.com