- Northeast of Durango
- 9 mile roundtrip
- 5 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 10800 feet
- Elevation Change:
- 1600 feet
- Summer - Fall
Begin the hike at the trailhead, on Middle Mountain Road. The trail starts off wide and well defined but soon disappears, and the majority of the hike is bushwhacking. The trail is distinctive from a distance, but once you are on the trail it is hard to follow, due to the gray limestone that forms benches. Use your map and compass skills to progress across gray limestone benches, past meadows and sinkholes.
There are no trees on the trail, but meadows and sinkholes that fill with water, due to the caving in of the limestone.
The view from the end of the trail at the overlook looks down onto Dollar Lake, and far below to Emerald Lake at 10,000' elevation.
The alpine meadows are full of blooming wildflowers in late July and in August. This area offers excellent views and photographic possibilities. As with all high-altitude areas, storms can move in rapidly, bringing severe wind, lightning, rain, snow, or hail any time of the year. Plan accordingly.
1)From Bayfield, head north on County Road (CR) #501, also called the Vallecito Road. Take that road north 20 miles around Vallecito Lake. Turn left on Middle Mountain Road (FS #724). Take the road about 8 miles to the Cave Basin Trailhead.
2)From Durango, head north on Florida Road (CR #240) for 14 miles. Continue on CR #240 for 2 miles past the turnoff for Lemon Reservoir. Turn north onto CR #501. Take that road north 10 miles around Vallecito Lake. Turn left on Middle Mountain Road (FS #724). Take the road roughly 8 miles to the Cave Basin Trailhead.