Hiking

What to Bring

Maximize your San Juan Mountain experience and go beyond the tourist maps. Whether you're seeking a unique adventure, to expand your knowledge and skills, or simply a peaceful day with nature, come hike with us! We have done all the research and found the best trails, long and short, challenging and gentle. Our guides work with you to select a trail; carry the appropriate gear; and help you understand our region.

We offer half-day, full-day, and multi-day guided hikes for any number of people. Our vehicles can fit from one to eight people. For groups larger than eight, we take multiple vehicles. Full-day hikes include lunch, and all hikes include waters and pop to ensure that you stay hydrated in our high altitude terrain.

All guided hikes start at our store, generally by 6 am in the morning, but we always try to accommodate your needs for other start times if we can. Half-day hikes end at 11 am. Full-day hikes return to The Sportsman at 5 pm. We can pick-up and drop-off at your location if you are staying in Lake City or somewhere along the hike route.  Large group rates vary, so contact us for more information on discounts.

Cataract Gulch Guided Hike

Rating: ModerateElevation: 9,630 ft to 12,200 ft
Length: 8.2 miles from trailhead to Continental Divide
Timeframe: Full-day

This hike can be tricky because the trail crosses Cataract Creek several times. Although somewhat challenging, the hike is well worth it as it boasts several waterfalls and even an old miner's cabin or two. You pass through several dense stands of forest but eventually reach timberline, where the trail is somewhat easier but less defined. You'll then pass through alpine meadows with beaver ponds and see the tundra lakes (one of which is Cataract Lake) that are the source for Cataract Creek. Just south of the lakes is the Continental Divide and a gorgeous view.

We always suggest starting hikes early, but we’re flexible. You tell us what time you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes lunches and beverages.

Cooper Creek Guided Hike

Rating: Moderate
Elevation: 10,560 ft to 12,750 ft
Length: 3.7 miles from trailhead to lake
Timeframe: Could be a half-day hike for the physically fit; otherwise full day

Cooper Lake lies in a scenic and quiet glacial valley. The trail to Cooper Lake is an old two-track road that no longer allows vehicle use. This trail is seldom hiked, which makes it the perfect place for a true backcountry experience. It does cross over some private land where an old mine exists. The hike itself begins over 10,000 feet, so it's not a trail that someone struggling with altitude should take. It is, however, a beautiful scenic hike that offers the traveler a seldom-seen view of the San Juan Mountains.

We always suggest starting hikes early, but we’re flexible. You tell us what times you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes lunches and beverages.

Devil's Creek Guided Hike

Rating: Moderate
Elevation: 8,480 ft to 12,000 ft
Length: 6.8 miles from trailhead to lake
Timeframe: Full-day

The road to the Devil's Lake trailhead is about seven miles north of Lake City. The trail itself weaves on and off an old road that no longer allows vehicles. It can be a confusing hike because of that, so your guide's experience will keep you on track. The vistas from the trail often encompass the Lake Fork valley. You'll climb mesas and forge valleys and creeks and finally end up at Devil's Lake atop Cannibal Plateau. It's a gorgeous hike, albeit somewhat challenging.

We always suggest starting hikes early, but we’re flexible. You tell us what times you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes lunches and beverages.

Jones Mountain Guided Hike

Rating: Easy at first/Switches to Moderate
Elevation: 9,630 ft to 13,829 ft
Length: 8.2 miles from trailhead to Continental Divide
Timeframe: Half-day if you just do the lower section; Otherwise Full-Day

You reach Jones Mountain by using the Cottonwood Creek trail, which begins about 10 miles from Lake San Cristobal. This trail is really a road in the beginning, but it doesn't see much traffic because it's so rough. However the trail is gentle on the road and off to the North you might see a herd of Bighorn Sheep that often feed on the cliffs there, as well as a few waterfalls. Once you hit switchbacks, you'll experience what it means to go from easy to moderate as the grade gets quite steep. If you do keep going, you'll see Snare Creek and end up in an alpine basin with several small lakes. You'll also have a great view of other "13/8ers" -- mountains that just don't quite make it to the 14,000 ft highpoint. We always suggest starting hikes early, but we’re flexible. You tell us what times you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes lunches and beverages.

Rambouillet & Sawmill Parks Guided Hike

Rating: Easy to Moderate
Elevation: 9,940 ft to 11,640 ft
Length: 4 miles from trailhead to park
Timeframe: Half-Day

Rambouillet (locally pronounced "ram-boo-lay") Park sits just below the Continental Divide. The trail begins off of Highway 149 just past the Lake San Cristobal overlook. Initially, the trail can be seen as a right fork off of other trails that the snowmobilers use in the winter. After a mostly gentle 1.3 miles, you come across Sawmill Park, a beautiful and large open meadow. At the far end of the park, the trail takes up again into the woods and gets steeper and continues to climb (about 1,000 ft) until you reach Rambouillet Park, which is another popular snowmobiling park in the winter. It's a vast and beautiful open area with great views of the Divide. It also enables access to various yurts in the area.

We always suggest starting hikes early, but we’re flexible. You tell us what times you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes beverages. You can add lunches for $9 per person.

Red Mountain Guided Hike

Under construction

Skunk Creek Guided Hike

Rating: Easy to Moderate
Elevation: About 8,000 ft to 9,000 ft
Length: 5 miles
Timeframe: Full-day, but can be turned into half-day

Skunk creek trail is so rarely hiked that we can almost guarantee a person-less trip even in the height of summer. The trail itself begins about 15 miles north of town on a hard-to-see jeep road that continues as the main part of the trail for many miles. The road is steep in the beginning, but then moderates. The trail weaves through many groves of trees, including magnificent old-growth junipers. You'll pass by many other forks of the trail, but the main one takes you past old cabins and ponds and finally terminates at Skunk Creek. 

We always suggest starting hikes early, but we’re flexible. You tell us what time you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes lunches and beverages for a full day. You can add lunches to a half day for $9 per person.

Waterdog Guided Hike

Rating: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation: About 8,600 ft to 11,100 ft
Length: 3.8 miles
Timeframe: Full-day

The trail for Waterdog Lake is in Lake City in the Ball Flats area next to the water treatment plant. From there, you hike up a road that eventually turns into a trail at the top of a hill. You then climb steadily through an open fir forest that actually provides great views of Lake City. You then climb again and reach Horse Park, a private and scenic meadow. Turn northeast and continue along a moderate jeep road through aspen, eventually reaching beautiful Water Dog Lake.

We always suggest starting hikes early, say around 6am, but we’re flexible. You tell us what time you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes lunches and beverages for a full day. You can add lunches to a half day for $9 per person.

Willaims Creek Guided Hike

Rating: Difficult
Elevation: 9,185 ft to 12.480 ft
Length: 7.5 miles
Timeframe: Full-day

The Williams Creek trail challenges most hikers. The trail begins about 4 miles past Lake San Cristobal. At the start, you walk up through an open meadow, then through ponderosa pine stands. You pass over a few creeks, including Williams Creek and its east fork. You then continue to climb a sidehill for several miles. Once the trail begins to level off, you enter a mountain meadow and then over a large rock talus slope and, finally, to Grassy Mountain Saddle. You can then go over the ridge and onto the Alpine Gulch trail side, if desired.

We always suggest starting hikes early, but we’re flexible. You tell us what time you want to start. It’s about an eight-hour hike. This hike includes lunches and beverages for a full day. You can add lunches to a half day for $9 per person.

Total Exposure

If you want to experience all that Lake City and The Sportsman has to offer, this package is for you. We get you into fly fishing; out on the trail; and touring the highest 4-wheel drive road in the lower 48...all with one low price! You even have a "free" day to select the activity of your choice. Your instructor's focus will be to get you "out there" and enjoying mountain adventures. Your package includes:

  • 1 day of guided fly fishing (normally $275)
  • 1 day of guided hiking (normally $130)
  • 1 day of scenic touring (in our safe 4x4 vehicles) (normally $140)
  • 1 day of your choice of: fly fishing, hiking, or touring (normally $275)
  • All fly fishing gear, unless you bring your own Hiking necessities carried by your guide     (You just bring your personal products!)
  • Daily lunches 
  • Beverages and snacks to get you through each day
  • Transportation to and from the streams and trails
  • Guidance and instruction for each activity

Per Adult: $660  (Save 20% off regular price!) 
Per Child: $530 (Save 25% off regular price!)