Hossick Lake (Weminuche Wilderness)

  • Rating: Difficult

  • Distance: 16.8 (out and back)

  • Elevation

    • Trailhead: 8410 feet

    • Max: 12,340 feet

    • Gain: 4,200 feet

    • Lake: 11,900 feet

  • Road Status: Williams Creek Road (FR640)

  • Trail:  Cimarrona (586) or Hossick Creek (585)

  • Trailhead Directions (28.7 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs)  

  • Trail Map

  • Notes: Not a day hike! Lots of elevation gain at high altitude, with large sections above treeline (lightning warning).  Snow often covers the trail into July.  

Hossick Lake near Pagosa Springs, CO
Hossick Lake near Pagosa Springs
Natural Arch
Cimarrona/Hossick Divide
Williams Lake Valley Pagosa Springs

Located high in the Weminuche Wilderness near Pagosa Springs, Hossick Lake is a deep glacier tarn clinging to the edge of a classic hanging valley.  The trail begins climbing through a mixed conifer forest and will pass through a unique natural arch that formed in an impressive conglomerate rock outcrop.  The trail maintains a consistent 10% grade for the 1st 4.6 miles until it reaches an elevation of 10,900 feet.  Finally, the trail mellows, offering great views Williams Lake and O'Neil Park as it flanks Cimarrona Peak.  The trail passes through a few patches of tall wildflowers on its way to the Hossick Lake Trail junction at mile 6.3 (about 11,500 feet). Head north on the faint Hossick Lake Trail, which becomes more obvious shortly thereafter.  The trail climbs steeply to the 12,300-foot divide (mile 7) that separate the Hossick and Cimarrona watersheds.  The trail traverses the upper basin of Hossick Creek and for a moment is squarely on the Continental Divide, offering views into the Squaw Creek drainage (Rio Grande Headwaters) and of Chief Mountain.  Willows have overgrown the trail in places as you descend to the junction with the Hossick Creek trail (mile 7.9).  Ascend the remaining half-a-mile and drop into the cirque. 

Listen for big horn sheep knocking rocks down from the cliffs high above the lake, and watch for large, native cutthroat trout cruising the shoreline with heads down as they scavenge for freshwater shrimp. Hossick Peak (12,973 feet) looms above the lake and the blocky summit of Cimarrona Peak is visible across the U-shaped valley.  The lake can stay frozen until early July!

If you want to do a point to point, drop a car (or bike) at the Poison Park Trailhead and hike out the Hossick Creek Trail (7.5 miles).  There's a leg-busting 2-mile climb to the Poison Park Trailhead, but you'll get to see new terrain and the beautiful Weminuche Creek Valley.

 
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