Ponderosa Pine (7,000-8,500 feet)
Trails that wind through the ponderosa pine are the most accessible because they are close to town and generally dry out by the end of April. A healthy ponderosa pine forest is sunny and with widely spaced trees intermixed by oakbrush, chokecherry, and other shrubs. Aspen stands are present near shallow springs or line the edges wetland meadows.
Spruce-Fir (9,000-12,000 feet)
Trails that ascend through the spruce-fir forest generally don't dry out until mid-June depending upon the previous winter. Most of these forests have endured extensive spruce beetle damage and each year it takes a while to clear the resulting deadfall. Despite the beetle damage, the lakes and rivers are still worth the visit and fortunately, young trees are regenerating some green. Incredible aspen stands are located in disturbed areas such as burn scars and landslides.
Alpine (12,000-14,000 feet)
Surrounded by lush meadows and wildflower-filled fields, alpine lakes are the gems of the San Juans. Treeline is generally around 12,000 feet in our region. Snow can last into August depending upon the previous winter. Steep slopes and thin air are unavoidable, but the experience will be well worth the effort. Beware of summer monsoon thunderstorms that usually begin in July and ebb and flow through September.