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      Close to Heaven… Down to Earth

 



Cuchara River Recreation Area
San Isabel National Forest, Trinchera Peak Area

Cuchara River Recreation Area follows the river upstream, west of State Highway
12, the Scenic Highway of Legends,
4 miles to Blue Lake and the Blue Lake
Campground. At the campground is an intersection with a jeep trail heading southwest
to the North Fork Trail (1.5 miles) and then continuing on above treeline to the
ridgeline that defines the Sangre de Cristo’s.
From this upper end of the jeep trail you can hike south and up onto Trinchera Peak or go north over a series of lesser
peaks to the end of the Forest at Sulphur Springs. If you don’t go left or right,
the road heads on another mile and ends at Bear
Lake
and the Bear Lake Campground.

Obviously, these photos were taken in the fall. Fall is our driest season and stream
flows are at their lowest. The gravel road is in excellent condition but once there
is snow on the ground, access to this area is blocked off at the edge of the pavement
(at the State Highway). At places along the road there are official picnic areas
in place but there is no camping allowed outside the official campgrounds at Blue
and Bear Lakes. All facilities are maintained by a private concessionaire and day
use fees apply.

Usually, the area is open by Memorial Day Weekend but in 2005, the glorified snow
plow they brought in made it to Blue Lake only to find 10 feet of snow still standing
on top of the picnic tables. If you are coming from a distance for that weekend,
it might be good to check this out first.

Directions: Take State Highway 12 south of Cuchara to a sharp turn at the
northern foot of Cuchara Pass. Turn onto a well marked dirt road leading west into
the National Forest: this is where the Recreation Area begins.