Upcoming Trip: September 2021, Backpacking in the South San Juan Wilderness

Photo: South San Juan Wilderness.
South San Juan Wilderness

I am planning a backpacking and climbing trip to South San Juan Wilderness in southwestern Colorado. Please see the sidebar for detailed planning information including maps, GPS info, etc. You can see reports from some of my previous trips here.


I have not been to the South San Juan Wilderness before. Some say, this is the wildest corner of Colorado. The continental divide passes through it. It contains the headwaters of the Conejos, San Juan, and Blanco Rivers. The last confirmed sighting of a grizzly bear in Colorado occurred there in 1979.


Itinerary

I do not plan to deviate from the routes described below, however, my schedule will be flexible. It will probably change from what is described below. I might stop to camp before or after the daily destinations described below. I might add rest days, particularly along the South Fork of the Conejos River where I might want to pause to fish.

Day 0, Wednesday, September 8, 2021

  • Drive from Amarillo, TX to Platoro Valley Lodge & Cabins near Platoro Reservoir, CO (388 miles, 7 hr 13 min).

Day 1, Thursday, September 9, 2021

  • Drive from Platoro Valley Lodge & Cabins to the Lower South Fork (Conejos) Trail Head (12.0 miles, 38 min).
  • Hike up the South Fork Conejos Trail (#724) to its junction with the Cañon Verde Trail (#726) (5 hr 9 min, 5.99 miles, ascent/descent 1,235/-735 feet).

Day 2, Friday, September 10, 2021

Primary Option
  • Continue west, up the South Fork Conejos Trail to the junction with the Glacier Trail (#711). I might hike slightly farther west to Blue Lake to Camp (6 hr 31 min, 4.95 miles, ascent/descent 2,114/-487 feet).
Secondary Option
  • Continue west, up the South Fork Conejos Trail to the junction with the Cañon Rincon Trail (#722) (2 hr 42 min, 1.96 miles, ascent/descent 903/-350 feet).
  • Hike north, up the Cañon Rincon Trail (#722), past the junction with the Glacier Trail (#711) to Twin Lakes (4 hr 15 min, 2.85 miles, ascent/descent 1,553/-120 feet).
  • Totals for the day: 6 hr 57 min, 4.79 miles, ascent/descent 2,456/-470 feet.

Day 3, Saturday, September 11, 2021

  • If I used the primary option on day 3, hike northeast on the Glacier Trail (#711) to its junction with the Cañon Rincon Trail (#722) (3 hr 23 min, 3.47 miles, ascent/descent 860/-492 feet).
  • Hike north, up the Cañon Rincon Trail (#722), to Twin Lakes.

Day 4, Sunday, September 12, 2021

  • From Twin Lakes, hike northeast along the Cañon Rincon Trail (#722), past the Tobacco Lake Trail (#719) junction, continuing northwest along the Cañon Rincon Trail (#722) to the junction with the Roaring Gulch Trail (#720).
  • Hike east, then southeast, along the Roaring Gulch Trail (#720) to near the three tiny lakes near point 11,810.
  • Totals for the day: 4 hr 11 min, 5.26 miles, ascent/descent 866/-699 feet).
  • Although not likely, I might detour north up the Tobacco Lake Trail (#719) to the summit of Conejos Peak and then retrace my path back to the Cañon Rincon Trail (#722) and continue east as described above.

Day 5, Monday, September 13, 2021

  • Descend the Roaring Gulch Trail (#720) to the trailhead where I started (4 hr 40 min, 6.20 miles, ascent/descent 349/-3000 feet).

Day 8, Thursday, September 16, 2021

  • Reach the trailhead no later 7:00PM MDT on this day.
  • Begin drive back to Amarillo, TX (364 miles, 5 hr 40 min).

Equipment Lists and Menus

Gear

Food


Mapping Information


Bob's Garmin InReach Map Page(s)


Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) Card

If you have a current Colorado fishing license, hunting license, or CORSAR card it provides you with search and rescue insurance. If you do not have one, consider buying one. The cost for a CORSAR card is only $3.00 for one year or $12.00 for five years. Check the 10th Mountain Hut Association website for more CORSAR card information.


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