San Isabel National Forest


Hiking a trail in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness
Hiking a trail in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness
Wildflowers in San Isabel National Forest

San Isabel National Forest is one of what was eleven National Forests in Colorado (several have since been combined administratively so there's only seven left). The Forest includes over one million acres of beautiful scenery with snow-capped mountain peaks, spring wildflowers, autumn colors, crystal clear mountain lakes, and clear blue skies to enjoy.

Prior to the establishment of the Forest, the presence of American Indians, Spanish Land Grants, homesteading, and the discovery of gold and silver were important in shaping the land. The lands originally set aside as Forest Reserve in 1902 were renamed the San Isabel National Forest in March, 1907. From 1907 until 1945 the Forest grew steadily in size as several other Forests and additional lands were integrated into it. Today the Forest is administered by three District Offices and the Supervisor's Office.

The Forest is bounded on the west and north by the Continental Divide and on the east by Pike National Forest. The Wet Mountains, Collegiate Peaks, Sawatch Range, Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains provide a variety of scenery. Elevations range from a low of 5,860 feet to the top of Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest at 14,433 feet. The high elevations account for the comfortable summer temperatures and the year-round snow on some of the higher peaks.

Black bear, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, wild turkey, and mountain lions are among the animals and birds that make the Forest their home.

With almost 800 miles of hiking trails, several ski areas, nineteen peaks over 14,000 feet, several scenic byways, numerous roads and highways, campgrounds and picnic areas, the Forest provides challenges and opportunities for everyone.

Bishops Castle, on San Isabel National Forest in the Wet Mountains
Bishops Castle, on an inholding in San Isabel National Forest in the Wet Mountains
Lake Isabel in the Wet Mountains
Lake Isabel in the Wet Mountains
Typical mountain stream on San Isabel National Forest
Typical mountain stream on San Isabel National Forest
The West Spanish Peak from the Apishapa Road
The West Spanish Peak
 
Photos courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License
 
Cordova Pass Campground
In the campground on Cordova Pass

San Isabel National Forest Campgrounds

No. of Sites Campground Name District Notes
50 Baby Doe Campground Leadville RD Reservable
19 Belle of Colorado Campground Leadville RD Tent only, Non-reservable
24 Dexter Campground Leadville RD Non-reservable
17 Elbert Creek Campground Leadville RD Non-reservable
25 Father Dyer Campground Leadville RD Reservable
22 Halfmoon Campground Leadville RD Non-reservable
59 Lakeview Campground Leadville RD Reservable
  Lakeview Group Camping Area Leadville RD Call 719-486-0134 for information
  Matchless Campground Leadville RD Non-reservable
27 May Queen Campground Leadville RD Reservable
49 Molly Brown Campground Leadville RD Reservable
26 Parry Peak Campground Leadville RD Non-reservable
4 Printer Boy Group Camping Area Leadville RD Reservable
43 Silver Dollar Campground Leadville RD Reservable
44 Tabor Campground Leadville RD Non-reservable
39 Twin Peaks Campground Leadville RD Non-reservable
68 Whitestar Campground Leadville RD Reservable
56 Collegiate Peaks Salida RD Max RV length 50 ft.
28 Cottonwood Lake Salida RD Max RV length 35 ft.
17 Cottonwood Lake Picnic area * No overnight camping Salida RD  
19 Mt. Princeton Salida RD Max RV length 45 ft.
19 Chalk Lake * 1 accessible toilet Salida RD Max RV length 50 ft.
21 Cascade Salida RD Max RV length 35 ft.
15 Iron City Salida RD Max RV length 25 ft.
6 Bootleg: This is a tent camping facility located on the Colorado Trail. Salida RD No Vehicle access
11 Coaldale Salida RD Max RV length 25 ft.
11 Hayden Creek Salida RD Max RV length 35 ft.
20 Angel of Shavano Salida RD 30 feet
  Angel of Shavano Group Area Salida RD Parking limited to 60'x120' area

up to 100 people
36 Monarch Park Salida RD 45 feet
29 O'Haver Lake: *Accessible fishing area & toilet Salida RD 45 feet
8 North Fork Reservoir Salida RD Not recommended for large RV's and trailers
19 La Vista San Carlos RD handicapped toilet facilities

trash pick up
8 Southside San Carlos RD  
15 St. Charles San Carlos RD  
  Lake Isabel, North Shore Parking/Day Use Area San Carlos RD Lake Access
35 Lake Isabel, Picnic/Day Use Area, South Side San Carlos RD 0.5 mile paved handicapped trail, handicapped toilet facilities, handicapped fishing pier, tables and grills, trash, hydrants
60 Spruce Group Site San Carlos RD By reservation only
Max cap. 120 (day) Ponderosa Group Campground San Carlos RD By reservation only
12 Davenport San Carlos RD  
31 Ophir Creek San Carlos RD  
15 Oak Creek San Carlos RD No Water On Site
47 Alvarado San Carlos RD  
11 Lake Creek San Carlos RD  
13 Cuchara Creek, Parking/Day Use Areas San Carlos RD  
15 Blue Lake San Carlos RD Non-Reservable
14 Bear Lake San Carlos RD Non-Reservable
3 Picnic
3 Camp
Cordova Pass, Trailhead Parking/Day Use San Carlos RD  
3 Picnic Spring Creek, Trailhead Parking/Day Use San Carlos RD  
23 Purgatoire/Potato Patch San Carlos RD 13 of 23 sites are Reservable
Photo courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 License
Trailhead in a National Forest
Typical San Isabel National Forest Trailhead

San Isabel National Forest Hiking Trails

No. Trail Name District Length Elevations Difficulty Uses
1443 Agnes Vaille Trail Salida RD .5 Mile 8,720'-9,000' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1324 Apishapa Trail San Carlos RD 4.5 Miles 9,800'-10,400' Moderate
Difficult
Hiking trailHorseback riding
1301 Baker Trail San Carlos RD 3 Miles 8,500'-10,000' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1310 Bartlett Trail San Carlos RD 12.2 Miles 8,000'-11,580' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1429 Browns Creek Trail Salida RD 11 Miles 8,970'-11,286' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1356 Brush Lakes Trail San Carlos RD 7 Miles 8,600'-11,700' Easy
Moderate
Hiking trailHorseback riding
1402 Bushnell Lakes Trail San Carlos RD 5.5 Miles 8,200'-11,500' Moderate
Difficult
Hiking trailHorseback riding
1314 Cisneros Trail San Carlos RD 10.4 Miles 8,940'-11,220' Easy Hiking trailHorseback ridingBicyclingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1394 Coal Creek Trail San Carlos RD 3.5 Miles 11,754'-9,377' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1776 Colorado Trail Salida RD 500 Miles 5,500'-13,240' Easy
Moderate
Difficult
Hiking trailHorseback ridingBicycling
1345 Comanche Trail San Carlos RD 5.1 Miles 9,100'-11,720' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1344 Cottonwood Trail San Carlos RD 3.3 Miles 9,400'-11,640' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1389 Dike Trail San Carlos RD 3.5 Miles 8,800'-8,500' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1302 Dodgeton Trail San Carlos RD 5 Miles 9,000'-10,200' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1387 Dome Rock Trail San Carlos RD 2.1 Miles 7,740'-8,860' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1343 Dry Creek Trail San Carlos RD 3.4 Miles 9,220'-11,840' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1346 Goodwin Trail San Carlos RD 3.5 Miles 9,500'-11,000' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1412 Green Creek Trail Salida RD 6.8 Miles 9,000'-11,505' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1316 Greenhorn Trail San Carlos RD 7.8 Miles 7,460'-11,340' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
OHV's Grizzly Lake Trail Salida RD 2.6 Miles 10,000'-11,200' Difficult Hiking trailATV's allowed
1342 Horn Creek Trail San Carlos RD 4.6 Miles 9,400'-11,820' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1362 Horn Peak Trail San Carlos RD 3 miles 9,400'-13,450' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1397 Horse Ranch Trail San Carlos RD 3.3 Miles 8,500'-11,220' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
- Huerfano Valley Trailheads San Carlos RD 5 Miles 8,500'-11,220' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback ridingwilderness
1420 Hunt Lake Trail Salida RD 2 Miles 11,000'-11,554' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1405 Hunts Lake Trail San Carlos RD 8 Miles 9,000'-11,500' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Huron Peak Leadville RD 3.1 Miles 14,003 Easy
Moderate
Difficult
Hiking trailHorseback riding
1300 Indian Creek Trail San Carlos RD 13 Miles 8,600'-10,400' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
  John B. Farley Wildflower Trail San Carlos RD 100 Feet 10,000'-10,000' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
  La Plata Peak Leadville RD 4.7 Miles 14,336' Easy
Moderate
Difficult
Hiking trailHorseback riding
1351
1349
Lakes of the Clouds Trail San Carlos RD 4.2 Miles 9,200'-11,500' Moderate
Difficult
Hiking trailHorseback riding
1329 Lewis Creek Trail San Carlos RD 5 Miles 9,200'-7,800' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Lily Lake Trail San Carlos RD 5 miles 10,200'-11,300' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingfishingwilderness
1329 Lion Canyon Trail San Carlos RD 2.14 Miles 9,200'-7,800' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1430 Little Browns Creek Trail Salida RD 7 Miles 8,800'-12,400' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1409 Little Cochetopa Trail Salida RD 4.5 Miles 10,333'-11,960' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1341 Macey Trail San Carlos RD 3.8 Miles 10,140'-11,520' Easy
Moderate
Hiking trailHorseback riding
1338 Marble Mountain San Carlos RD 1.7 Miles 9,500'-11,200' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Missouri Mountain Leadville RD 4.8 Miles 14,067' Easy
Moderate
Difficult
Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mount Antero Salida RD 4.5 Miles 9,383'-14,269' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mt. Belford Leadville RD 4.2 Miles 14,197' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mt. Columbia Leadville RD 5 Miles 14,073' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mt. Elbert Leadville RD 4.5 Miles 14,433' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mt. Harvard Leadville RD 6.3 Miles 14,420' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mt. Massive Leadville RD 6.8 miles 14,421' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mt. Oxford Leadville RD 5.2 Miles 14,153' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mount Shavano Salida RD 4 Miles 9,800'-14,229' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Mt. Sherman Leadville RD 4.2 Miles 14,036' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1337 Music Pass Trail San Carlos RD 1.2 Miles 10,370'-11,400' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1335 Newlin Creek Trail San Carlos RD 2.7 Miles 7,000'-8,360' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1340 North Colony Trail San Carlos RD 3.8 Miles 9,720'-11,570' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1325 North Creek Trail San Carlos RD 2.8 Miles 9,200'-7,800' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1309 North Fork Trail San Carlos RD 4.5 Miles 9,800'-10,800' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1348 North Taylor Trail San Carlos RD 2.4 Miles 9,800'-12,120' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1411 Pass Creek Trail Salida RD 4 Miles 9,600'-11,350' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1398 Pole Creek Trail San Carlos RD 6 Miles 8,500'-11,220' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1436 Poplar Gulch Trail Salida RD 6 Miles 10,080'-10,270' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1336 Rainbow Trail Salida RD 60 Miles 8,540'-8,880' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1327 Rudolph Mountain Trail San Carlos RD 6.4 Miles 8,000'-9,680' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1320 San Carlos Trail San Carlos RD 1.6 Miles 7,360'-8,160' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1313 Santana Trail San Carlos RD 6 Miles 11,400'-8,200' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1391 Schafer Trail San Carlos RD 3.5 Miles 9,200'-11,900' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1407 Silver Creek Trail Salida RD 3.9 Miles 9,700'-11,229' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1354 Silver Lake Trail San Carlos RD 7 Miles 8,400'-11,900' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1318 Snowslide Trail San Carlos RD 5.7 Miles 8,720'-11,500' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1311 South Apache Trail San Carlos RD 4.3 Miles 9,600'-7,300' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1355 South Brush Creek Trail San Carlos RD 5 Miles 8,600'-11,700' Moderate to Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1339 South Colony Trail San Carlos RD 3.8 Miles 11,040'-11,680' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1321 South Creek Trail San Carlos RD 7.3 Miles 9,620'-7,360' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
  Spring Creek Trail San Carlos RD 3.5 Miles 8,500'-9,220' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingatvsMotorcycles allowedBike trail
1384 Squirrel Creek Trail San Carlos RD 4.8 miles 9,200'-7,800' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1326 St. Charles Trail San Carlos RD 7.0 miles 9,200'-8,200' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1408 Starvation Creek Trail Salida RD 6.5 miles 9,100'-10,885' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1403 Stout Lakes Trail San Carlos RD 5 Miles 8,200'-11,761' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1334 Stultz Trail San Carlos RD 5.7 Miles 7,800'-9,200' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1333 Tanner Peak Trail San Carlos RD 9 Miles 7,200'-8,000' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback ridingATV's allowedMotorcycles allowed
1451 Tunnel Lake Trail Salida RD 5 Miles 11,020'-11,950' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1315 Turkey Creek Trail San Carlos RD 2.9 Miles 11,300'-10,140' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1347 Venable Trail San Carlos RD 5.9 Miles 9,500'-11,500' Moderate Hiking trailHorseback riding
1392a Vista Trail San Carlos RD .5 Mile 11,248'-11,400' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1319 Wachob Trail San Carlos RD 1 Mile 9,020'-9,160' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1392 Wade Trail San Carlos RD 3 Miles 9,200'-11,248' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1427 Wagon Loop Trail Salida RD 1.5 miles 8,970'-9,600' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1304 Wahatoya Trail San Carlos RD 12 Miles 8,400'-9,600' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
1417 Waterdog Lakes Trail Salida RD 2 Miles 10,200'-11,475' Easy Hiking trailHorseback riding
1392 West Peak Trail San Carlos RD 3 Miles 11,248'-13,600' Difficult Hiking trailHorseback riding
 
Photo courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 License