Hours, days, weeks, months...the following, broken into general time frames, gives you a chance to mix and match your want-to-do’s with your time-to-do-it-all-in! Passing through with only a half day or a day to spend? Be prepared. Just a taste of everything this area has to offer is all that’s needed to tempt you back for more and more and more.
A Few Hours to a Half-Day
- Bike or Walk Lake City’s In-Town Trails – for locations and distances see pull-out map or pickup a walking trails pamphlet at the Visitor Center.
- Use the kid-friendly equipment, courts and sport fields available at the town’s parks and recreation facilities, or sign up for Lake City Recreation’s year-round activities.
- Take the short ride around Lake San Cristobal, perhaps stopping for a picnic or fishing, but always for photographs and memorable views you will always treasure.
- Drive along Henson Creek (CR20) to Nellie Creek Road and take a short hike (or 4-wheel) to Nellie Creek’s much photographed, 2-tier Waterfall.
- Drive further up CR20 toward Engineer Pass and snap a shot of Whitmore Falls as it sends Henson Creek waters thundering downstream.
- 4-wheel up Cinnamon Pass Road (CR30) to beautiful American Basin (normally in bloom July into August) and capture fields of wildflowers like no others. When blooms in the basin are peaking, you might want to extend that half day stay and take a quick hike to Sloan Lake for the full effect of San Juan magic.
- Want a short hike with a beautiful 4-part waterfall destination, try Cataract Gulch Trail. It is only 2 miles to the waterfall. The trailhead is located just past Sherman on CR 30.
- Go for a game (or two) of mini-golf.
- Take a Free Fly-Fishing Lesson, go horseback riding, or do Nature or Geology Tours – offered by local businesses.
- Try your luck at nearby fishing spots (page 26) – Lake San Cristobal, Deer Lakes, Henson Creek, the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River and many more!
One - Two Days or more...
- 4-wheel the Alpine Loop (page 20) – plan on a minimum of eight hours and add time for stops in Silverton, Ouray, or for short hikes and photographs along the way.
- Climb a Fourteener (page 24) – Handies Peak is very doable and a MUST, with Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn, Redcloud and Sunshine for those a bit more in shape and experienced.
- Hike any one of the trails off CR 20, CR 30, CR 50 or Hwy. 149 (page 24). Some right-around-town favorites include hikes to Thompson Lake, Larson Lakes, and/or Crystal Lake and Peak.
- The Continental Divide crosses Hinsdale County twice and can be accessed via trails and some 4-wheel drive roads in northern, central, and south Hinsdale (page 22 and pull-out map). Views from the literal spine of the continent are spectacular. Some favorite access treks include Williams Creek Trail, Camp Trail, Cataract Gulch, Cuba Gulch, Poison Park Trail, and Rough Creek Trail.
- Spend a day fishing either on your own (page 26) or with a guide (page 57). Favorite day trips include fishing at Thompson Lake and Larson Lakes, in the Deer Lakes area, along the Cebolla River and at Continental and Rio Grande Reservoirs. When Lake San Cristobal freezes over, ice fishing makes for great day-long fun.
- Tired of overpriced, upscale, and commercial? Come to Lake City after the snow flies and ski or snowboard at the Lake City Ski Hill (page 11). Make a day of it and try out in-town ice climbing off Henson Creek.
- Attention snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski enthusiasts – over 100 miles of groomed trails between Lake City and Creede offer day trips for all levels and abilities (page 11).
- Into cold-weather sports? Before spring, Lake City plays host to the annual Ice Climbing Festival, Matt Milski Ski Race, and Ice Fishing Derby usually scheduled weekends in February, go to www.lakecity.com for more information.
- Walkers or runners can take part in our various races including the Lake San Cristobal 5k/10k Race or the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile Race in June and the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.
- 4-wheel up Nellie Creek Road off CR20 to the Uncompahgre Peak Trailhead and set up your tent for a night under the stars. Climb Uncompahgre the next day, and take another day or two to explore other areas of the Uncompahgre/Big Blue wilderness.
- With Lake City as your base camp, take a few days to camp out and explore all Hinsdale County has to offer (see campgrounds page 23). To check out the county’s south end, drive the Silver Thread Scenic Byway, Hwy. 149, to and through South Fork to Pagosa Springs via Hwy. 160. Take Piedra Road (FSR 631) north from Pagosa Springs and you can camp out along Williams Creek or at the Williams Creek Reservoir before exploring the Upper Piedra area and the Weminuche Wilderness.
- Three yurts located on the higher reaches of Hinsdale County can be booked by skiers, snowshoers and mountaineers through www.hinsdalehauteroute.org. Touted as the highest hut system in Colorado, the yurts are great backcountry base camps for those seeking “out there” adventures.
Art & History
A Few Hours to a Half-Day
- Take a guided Historic Homes Walking Tour, Cemetery Tour, or Friday evening Ghost Tour in Lake City – all provided by the Hinsdale County Historical Society
- Visit the Hinsdale County Museum and see displays featuring Hinsdale County pioneer, mining, and ranching history and the history of Lake City
- Check out Lake City Arts’ exhibits and presentations at the historic Hough Building
- Walk the streets of the Lake City Historic District and learn about the historic homes, buildings and events described on standing plaques throughout town.
- Take an art class offered by Lake City Arts
- Attend free or minimal fee presentations during our August History month celebration, including in the past Alferd Packer, blacksmithing, the Lake City Narrow Gauge Train, red light district ladies, glass plate photography and parlor singing, at the Hinsdale County Museum
- Drive up CR 20 and tour a historic mine
- Take a tour of Hinsdale County’s only mine tour at The Hard Tack Mine located just a few miles up CR 20
- Drive the Cinnamon Pass (CR30) side of Lake City’s Alpine Loop circle trip for a day of mining history sites and sights. Along the route, a side-trip up Wager Gulch will take you to the well preserved mining camp of Carson. Further up CR30, an overlook provides a view of the once thriving mining town of Sherman. Nearing Cinnamon Pass, a few restored buildings from more than six mining towns that dotted the Burrows Park area remain at area trailheads.
- Drive the Engineer Pass (CR20) side of Lake City’s Alpine Loop circle, and history buffs will be treated to a number of whispers from the past, including remains of the Ute Ulay Mine and Mill, Capitol City “ghost town” remnants, and the Rose Lime Kiln built in 1881.
Food, Shopping & Entertainment
A Few Hours to a Half-Day
- Catch a movie at Lake City’s down home, but high-tech, Mountaineer Theatre
- Live music and other family-friendly entertainment can be had at local bars, restaurants, coffee shops including BINGO hosted Lake City/Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce.
- Attend local performances – plays, music, dance – scheduled by Lake City Arts
- Good food and great shopping, a variety of tasty offerings and locally-made items have visitors lamenting the need for more time. From BBQ to French cuisine, from San Juan inspired paintings to locally-honed woodcraft – on-line or mall shopping can’t hold a candle.
- The Annual Lake City Fourth of July Celebration – it’s a generational event for generation after generation.
- If you like local and regional arts and crafts, be here in July for the Lake City Arts “Arts & Crafts Festival” or in September for the “Colorfest Arts & Crafts Festival”
- Ever seen more than 1000 ducks float the river - well you can attend the Ducky Derby in July a fundraiser held by the Lake City/Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce in July.
- If wine and music are your perfect storm, you’ll want to be in Lake City for the annual “Uncorked Wine & Music Festival” the third Saturday in September. See www.lakecityfestival.org for details.
- Want to welcome the beginning of hunting season – the Hunter’s Ball, sponsored by the Lake City/Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce, offers great food, camaraderie, and an extra “luck of the draw” to a few area sportsmen