Hinsdale County Colorado is absolutely blessed with 96% of our county being public land and open for all of us to enjoy. Included in that vast amount of public land is some of the most spectacular and beautiful country that Colorado has to offer. Much of this beautiful land has been designated wilderness. We have access to four wilderness areas and two wilderness study areas which are protected just as though they were actual wilderness. No motorized or mechanical transportation is allowed in these areas. This wilderness land offers unlimited opportunity to experience a return to nature just the way it was when discovered by our forefathers.
The Uncompahgre Wilderness covers 102,721 acres and is home to two of Lake City’s fourteeners, Wetterhorn Peak and the most beautiful Uncompahgre Peak. The trailheads of these two peaks can be accessed from North Henson Creek Road and Nellie Creek Road. You will need a good four wheel drive vehicle for both of these access points. The 75 miles of hiking trails in the Uncompahgre is accessible from many points in Hinsdale County.
The La Garita Wilderness is the lesser traveled and encompasses 128,858 acres. It was one of the original five wilderness areas in the state. San Luis Peak at 14,014 feet and Wheeler Geologic Area are two of the outstanding things to visit here. The La Grita can be accessed at several points along the Cebolla Creek Loop, Spring Creek Pass and from the town of Creede. Most of the trails in the La Garita, as well as the other wilderness areas, are suitable for horses.
The Weminuche Wilderness at 488,210 acres is by far the largest wilderness area accessible from Hinsdale County. It contains sections of the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail making it the more traveled of the wilderness areas in our region. It can be accessed from several points, the more popular access point is from the Rio Grande Reservoir south of Lake City.
The Powderhorn Wilderness with 61,250 acres is our personal favorite. It was the primary area of our outfitting business and it adjoins our ranch in Powderhorn. For us access is right out our back gate. For many years access to this area was pretty limited due to the private land surrounding this wilderness. In recent years the BLM has traded for ranches on the boundary and has made public access much easier. This area contains the largest continuous tundra in the lower 48 states. It also contains Powderhorn Lake and Devils Lake along with some of the most spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains available. Hiking trails into the Powderhorn Wilderness can be found in several areas around the Lake City area and is well worth the hike.
Red Cloud Peak and Handies Peak Wilderness Study Areas contain 54,321 acres and is home to three of Lake City’s fourteeners: Handies, Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks. This study area contains some of the more spectacular evidence of the volcanic events than spawned these incredible San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Much of the remnants of Hinsdale County’s rich mining past can be found here as well. Numerous hiking trails can be accessed from the beautiful Alpine Loop. It is an area rich in history and is well worth the time spent on the trails.
Even with the vast amounts of wilderness Hinsdale County has much more public land to offer for mountain bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles. If you stay on the trails and follow the rules you will find yourself welcome to come and enjoy this rather large piece of heaven. It is an incredible place like no other paradise in America. Come and enjoy it with us.