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Mountain vistas: the ups and downs of a mountain-biking/hiking paradise.
U.S. Forest Service, Room 301 701 Camino del Rio Durango, CO 81301 (970) 247-4874
Location: The trail is located in southwestern Colorado, 350 miles from Denver, 15 minutes from Durango.
Getting There: The drive from Denver is a long one; it's best to fly into Albuquerque and drive to Durango. Molas Pass is an hour's drive north of Durango on US 550. Just north of the Molas Pass summit, turn left at the sign for Little Molas Lake. The trailhead is past the lake. Head south on the trail.
Seasonal Information: July and early September are probably the best months. August is wetter.
Snow can fall at high elevations any month of the year. Go prepared for everything from rain and snow to 90?, skin-broiling heat.
Wildlife: What you see depends on your elevation, but you may find mule deer, elk, black bears, and even moose. In the backcountry's less-traveled areas live bighorn sheep, mountain goats, beavers, river otters, and even mountain lions.
Chipmunks and ground squirrels are common campsite visitors, and raccoons and skunks may visit after dark. An occasional porcupine or furry marmot scurries along a back road.
Nearly 300 species of birds have been identified in southwestern Colorado. Look to the sky and you may see a bald eagle or a peregrine falcon. And listen for woodpeckers in search of insects in the bark of trees. More common are ravens, flickers, gray jays, mountain bluebirds, and hummingbirds. Owls often pierce the still of the night with their hoots. A bird list, compiled by the Durango Bird Club, is available from Forest Service offices upon request.
For recorded information on Colorado wildlife special events, call (303) 291-7518.
Insects: Check for Rocky Mountain wood ticks that can transmit Colorado tick fever. Mosquitoes are usually an annoyance only in damp and densely forested locations. Avoid wet, low-lying areas, and use insect repellent.
Plant Life: Once again, this will depend on your elevation. The most common trees are aspen, pi?ion juniper, spruce fir, and cottonwood. Autumn foliage brings magnificent gold to the area.
Facilities: The forest has many developed campgrounds and picnic areas, including several designed for large groups. Sites at 13 campgrounds may be reserved by calling (800) 280-CAMP. You may make reservations up to 120 days in advance for individual sites and up to 360 days in advance for group sites. Reservations must be made at least 10 days prior to arrival for individual sites and three days prior for group sites. A reservation fee is charged. Each campground has a self-service registration and fee-payment station near the entrance.
The closer to Denver, the more developed campsites become. Fee campgrounds include tables, fire grates, toilets, and drinking water.
In Durango, there are over 10 raft companies to help plan a white water trip. Jeep and mountain bike rentals are also available.
Parking: Contact park office for information.
Permits: No permits are needed.
Campgrounds range from $6 to $10; most are $8. There is a $15.75 reservation fee for group sites and a $7.85 reservation fee for family sites.
Leave No Trace: Charcoal and camp stoves are encouraged.
All LNT guidelines apply.
Other Trip Options: