El Diente, Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak22.75 miles roundtrip, 9500' elevation gain
Day 1- Woods Lake Approach
It's hard not to get excited about a trip to the San Juan Mountains. It's beautiful country, although distant from our front range homes. It was a 6+ hour drive to reach the trailhead from Colorado Springs. The Woods Lake campground is absolutely beautiful and completely empty on a summer weekend. Why more people don't go there I cannot say, but it's a nice place. The road to the campground is dirt for about 6 miles, but is passable in any vehicle. There is a large parking lot near the trailhead.
|After 0.25 miles you come to Woods Lake|
|A meadow on the trail|
|Lots of wildflowers throughout|
|A stream next to the trail|
|Heading out of treeline- Photo by SZL|
|Nearing the 2nd trail junction, most of the climbing is done|
|Looking back on the traversing section of the trail|
There are 2 big cool advantages to this route in my opinion. First is the initial part as it climbs through some old-growth forest. It has the oldest Aspen trees I have ever seen. They tower high above, with huge thick trunks. Some trunks are so old and swollen that they now resembly massive cottonwood trees. The second is the majestic views that are had as you hike just above treeline across the side of the mountain. Wide open San Juan views of hills and valleys in every direction.
|View of El Diente from the pass|
|The lower Navaho Lake basin from above (SZL)|
|Lower down the pass (SZL)|
|Some flowers (SZL)|
It took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes from the car to our campsite, which really isn't bad for an approach. We did have to cross over a stream to access most of the campsites. While we did see people camping up higher in the basin, it was a nice place sheltered from the wind and devoid of excessive mosquitos. In hindsight, we might choose a higher campsite if we were to return.
|Stream next to our campsite|
|A meadow near our campsite|
|Navaho Lake is magic at sunset|
|Looking ahead at the North Buttress|