Platoro to Blue Lake in Colorado

Arrived at Platoro Resevoir and camped near the trailhead at around 10,600 feet.

Early the next morning my wife and I started our 6 mile trek to Blue Lake located at 12,600 feet. The trail starts out fairly flat across the valley of the Conejos River which wanders up a meadow of flowers. This area was a little mushy and it was not possible to keep our feet dry. Up the valley wall, about halfway up the meadow, is a beautiful waterfall. After a short hike we arrived at 3 Forks where we took the trail to the left, up the El Rito Azul. We had to cross both the Conejos and the El Rito Azul rivers at this point. Neither were very deep.

From this point there is a change in the trail from meadow to dense woods. Plus, the incline begins here. All the way to the top meadows the trail follows the El Rito Azul which is a small stream but it rages down hill from the Blue Lake area. There are many beautiful spots along the trail to stop and admire the river. At one point, about halfway up, you must cross the El Rito Azul again. We crossed just to the left of the trail. Here the water was about thigh deep but not very wide.

Once you reach the upper meadows the trail flattens out but the altitude starts to take ahold of this old Missouri boy. We probably should have stopped in the meadow area and camped to become more accustomed to the altitude but we pushed on. The upper meadow was quite wet and we had to cross snow on some of the trail.

We had planned to make an entire loop but we met a couple of hikers coming down that had been on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) that said most hikers were coming down as it had snowed heavily and the only ones going on we're hikers with skis.

After a grueling 2 last hours of our hike we made it to Blue Lake. The altitude was really kicking our butts now. We camped next to Blue Lake close to an old house chimney that was still standing. This area is very beautiful and we mostly had the area to ourselves, someone came in after dark and was there when we woke up but it is a large area with plenty of good camping spots..

We setup our hammocks, made dinner, and enjoyed a small fire. The skies had become dark and soon it was poring down hail and rain. Needless to say, I slept like a rock that night. We had survived the mountain storm.

When we woke in the morning we made breakfast and discussed again whether to go back down or finish our loop. Since neither one of us are experienced in heavy snow hiking we decide it best to head back down.

The trip back down to Platoro Resevoir was uneventful and a little faster. This is a great hike though it is a ways off the beaten path. It is 1.5 hours by gravel road from Highway 17 to Platoro. It was a decent and wide gravel road that a car can maneuver. You would be better served by a 4x4 if the weather is extremely wet or if there is snow.

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