In addition to scenery options, hikes are possible at every skill level and to fit the amount of time and ambition you have available. Many Forest Service/BLM trails are graded according to difficulty. Hiking maps and equipment are available at local sporting goods shops and land management offices. The purchase of detailed maps is highly recommended.
The Lizard Head Wilderness Area is one of the most rugged and pristine sections of Southwest Colorado. Most of the hiking trail mileage in this 41,492-acre area is near or well above timberline. There are three 14,000 ft. peaks within the area, with Mount Wilson (14,246 ft.) being one of the hardest of Colorado's Fourteeners to climb, requiring technical expertise and equipment. The eastern portion of the area is well hiked, with the Navajo Lake, Lizard Head, Bilk Basin, Cross Mountain, and Woods Lake Trails covering the territory well. Be aware that campfires are prohibited in Navajo Basin.
The western portion of the area is accessible only to those hikers willing to travel cross-country. There are no established hiking trails west of the Navajo Lake Trail and north of the Groundhog Stock Drive Trail.
The San Juan National Forest and the Uncompahgre National Forest have jointly published an excellent brochure on the hiking opportunities available in the wilderness area. Their brochure also outlines some of the hazards of high-altitude hiking, and suggests some minimum impact techniques that are useful for any hikers, anywhere. The brochure is available from the Dolores Ranger District of the SJNF, or the Norwood Ranger District of the Uncompahgre National Forest. Stop at either of these offices for more information on trail conditions, access and difficulty.
Explore backcountry archeological sites not normally open to the public through the nonprofit Mesa Verde Institute. Rangers lead groups of 10 to 14 hikers into the spectacular destinations of Spring House, Square Tower House, Oak Tree House/Fire Temple, and Yucca House for a nominal fee, from Memorial Day through mid-October. Distance, schedule, and tuition vary by site. Learn more by downloading the brochure, and register at www.mesaverdeinstitute.org or 800-305-6053.
Information provided on this site is intended as a guideline only, and is not at the level necessary for some of the more difficult hikes in the area.