Vallecito Trailhead


Range: San Juan Mountains
Coordinates: 37.476050, -107.548778
14ers: Mt. Eolus, Windom Peak, Sunlight Peak, North Eolus
Elevation: 7,900'

Road Difficulty

Paved Road 0   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)

Driving Directions

Under construction

Winter Access


More Info

Fees? No
Trailhead added by BillMiddlebrook
Status Updates 
Posted By: Chicago Transplant
Info: Hiked in and out of Sunlight Basin for Jagged via the Vallecito trail. In on 8/5, out 8/8. General conditions for the trail are good, there was some deadfall to step over the last section between Roell and Sunlight creeks. Side creeks (First Creek, Second Creek, Roell Creek in particular) are running strong and have some slippery rocks. No issues if you take it easy, poles useful.

As many know, the bridge was wiped out in 2002 for the third crossing of the Vallecito (appx where Dead Horse Creek is on the east side). This crossing can be high after heavy rains, it was about to our knees both ways but a volunteer trail ambassador told us it was chest deep in the recent monsoon surge. Definitely something to consider going in, that it may be higher coming out if there is a lot of rain. Hand line coming in but it was cut when we came out and the same trail ambassador said the FS does not like people putting them in as they don’t want the liability of people assuming they are maintaining them, plus they encourage unprepared hikers to ford. With the rope stretch, I would recommend against using it anyway if one is in place.

To get to Chicago Basin, great bridge and great camping at Johnson Creek, we didn’t go any farther up that trail than the campsites.

To get to Sunlight Basin, leave the Vallecito Trail at a small cairn in the grass before you get to Sunlight Creek. I don’t have a waypoint, it’s roughly where two LLs are in the Vallecito label on the map. There is a trail that forms after a few steps and goes past a camp site. The crossing here is lower, mid to 2/3 calf. The trail on the other side parallels the Vallecito then crosses Sunlight Creek on a big log and heads up the north side of Sunlight Creek to start. Some deadfall early, some thick willows shortly after. The trail wasn’t too bad to follow if you take it easy and look for it. The trail crosses Sunlight Creek around 10,900’, drop left off a slabby rock and look for flagging in the trees. The trail is thin right around the creek itself. The rocks are slick, it caught one of us on the way in and me on the way out. Trail was hard to follow just below the headwall around 11,200 but much stronger at the headwall. Good camping right after the 3rd crossing at 11,500.
Posted By: d_baker
Info: Hunchback Pass trail head info.
Getting to Beartown from the Rio Grande River crossing, about 2.6 from the river going to the Hunchback TH, there is a mud pit obstacle with a fairly deep drop going into the pit.
4x4 with decent clearance and good tires recommended.
A Jeep Patriot was stuck in the pit today, and had to be towed out and then winched up the drop off to get through.
Fortunately, there were a group of 4x4 outfitted rigs at this point when the guy got stuck, and helped get him out.

As you’re driving into Beartown, the obstacle, at this time, should be driven on the left side (E/SE) of pit.
Long wheel base will drag for sure, unless lifted.
Returning from Beartown, stick to the same side (your right).

Today’s driver tried to take it on at an angle, left to right, as he was driving back to the Rio Grande.
The pit is deeper on the one side, and the lip to get out is taller on that same side.

I towed him out from the rear, so he could be winched out by the others on the other side.
Posted By: Stratosfearsome
Info: There is no bridge 3 (~6mi North of TH.) Water was about three feet deep at the crossing, (hip deep,) not too swift, and there was a handy line. 8-3-17 and 8-5-17. Perhaps bring Crocs? Apparently it won’t be replaced. Thank you, MtnMan200 for info.
Posted By: WeminucheRanger
Info: Mt. Eolus, Windom Peak and Sunlight Peak are located within the Weminuche Wilderness. Most people chose to camp in the Chicago Basin area of the Needle Creek Drainage. Please be aware that several special rules apply to the Wilderness and Needle Creek area.

----Weminuche Wilderness----

1. Group Size is limited to 15 people.

2. Camping is not allowed within 100 feet of any water source (lakes, streams, etc).

3. Dogs must be on a leash or under voice control.

4. Disposal of human waste and gray water within 100 feet of any water source is prohibited. Dig a cathole 6-8" deep for human waste. Trash must be packed out (not burried).

----Needle Creek Drainage----

Due to high use and limited wood, camp fires are prohibited in the entire Needle Creek Drainage.

----Twin Lakes Basin----

As it is a sensitive, confined area above treeline with very high use, camping is prohibited in the Twin Lakes basin through which the trail leading to the most common approaches for the 3 14ers passes.

Call the Columbine District of the San Juan National Forest for additional info on rules and regulations. (970) 884-2512
Posted By: CO Native
Info: Trailhead is paved all the way to the parking lot. It‘s easy to find if you follow the signs. Turn off of US 160 onto CR-501. Stay on 501 until you reach CR-500. Follow 500 to it‘s end at the campground. There is a designated parking area for hikers that is free. This road is maintained year round.
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