There are no plans at this time to replace the bridge, so it is necessary for hikers to ford the creek. Here’s an overview map of the Weminuche Wilderness, which includes trailhead locations. Trail Summary: The Purgatory Creek trail is the shortest and most common way to access the Chicago Basin if you do not want to or are not able to take the Silverton/Durango train. Eolus, Windom Peak, and Sunlight Peak. Some may decide to exit the basin via the Vallecito Trail, which travels southeast to the Vallecito Reservoir. “There are all these interpretive calls,” Watts said. Beyond Johnson Creek, the views open up. The only difficult creek crossing was of Rock Creek, which I think was the most difficult of all of them that we encountered. More information Elk Creek to Chicago Basin via Colorado Trail, to Continental Divide Trail, to Vallecito Trail, Johnson Creek Trail, finally Needle Creek Trail Of course, our itinerary was just too good to miss on account of a little rain. My trip coincided with archery and muzzle loader season for elk. Columbine Pass Weminuche, Chicago Basin comprises the upper portion of the Needle Creek watershed in the Needle Mountains (Colorado), a subrange of the San Juan Mountains in the US State of Colorado.It lies within the Weminuche Wilderness, part of the San Juan National Forest. The trail starts out busy, especially within the first few miles. A secondary route climbs steeply to Twin Lakes. Purgatory Trail (#511) – approximately 4 miles, 1500 ft descent; Animas River Trail (#675) – approximately 5.5 miles; Needle Creek Trail (#504) – approximately 5-6 miles to Chicago Basin, 3000 ft ascent; Vallecito Creek Trail: Access from the east. I hiked from Vallecito Lake up V. Creek and Johnson Creek into Chicago Basin in 2003? We are working to be sure all orders are filled as promptly as possible. Tagged: It started raining, again, around 7:30 on our first night. The avalanche also took out a bridge, so you have to ford the creek. The six-mile hike into Chicago Basin is a steady, relentless uphill trudge. If you have any questions about your order please email: info@sjma.org, Thank you, San Juan Mountains Association, Junior Naturalist Field Camps (Grades 1-6), Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad website. In the first 2 miles you will rise more than 500 ft. above the creek with fantastic views, then the trail drops down right beside the creek. My mule was named Goldie and he was a very sturdy beast. Chicago Basin Dwayne Freeman trail name “Shannon-Lewis & Clark” Sister judy eidson. The trail continues on the east side of the creek to the Johnson Creek trail. Over Hunchback Pass. Most people arriving by train (around 11 AM when coming from Durango) hike the 6 miles to the Basin the same day, arriving in late afternoon. From here it’s a 30-mile loop over three mountain passes into Chicago Basin. From either vantage point, a commanding panorama of the Needle Creek drainage is possible. I hiked from Vallecito Lake up V. Creek and Johnson Creek into Chicago Basin in 2003? SJMA has a participating agreement with the San Juan National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office to develop educational programs, publications and volunteer projects, as well as provide interpretive services. I felt fortunate to have him. In the first 2 miles you will rise more than 500 ft. above the creek with fantastic views, then the trail drops down right beside the creek. Up Johnston Creek and over Columbine Pass. In the first 2 miles you will rise more than 500 ft. above the creek with fantastic vistas, then the trail drops down right beside the creek. The well-maintained Needle Creek Trail climbs steadily up Needle Creek to Chicago Basin. Lots of switchbacks and uphill the entire time. 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