Hiking Trails in Colorado | San Carlos Trail

Trail Information

Trail Name: San Carlos TrailHiking Trails in Colorado | San Carlos Trail

Location: Southwest of Pueblo, Colorado

Date: March 1, 2020

Time at the Trail Head: 9:30 am

Trail Length: 4.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,384 feet

Elev. at Trail Head: 8,142 feet

# of Hikers Passed: 0

# of Mnt. Bikers Passed: 0

# of Horses Passed: 0

Trail Research

We had planned on hiking near Steamboat Springs, Colorado this weekend, but it snowed pretty much every day there this week and the forecast was for snow on the weekend so we looked south once again, as the skies were mostly sunny.

I used AllTrails once again to find a trail that wasn’t to high in elevation or was to long. I finally found the San Carlos trail that looked interesting and was in an area we had never been to before

AllTrails Colorado | San Carlos Trail

That was all we needed and we woke up early and hit the road.

Drive to the Trail

It was a beautiful sunny morning and it’s always nice to get out early before many people wake up. We headed south from Castle Rock, through Colorado Springs and Pueblo on I-25. We finally exited at Colorado City and started heading up into the mountains.

Drive to San Carlos Trail

I had never been through Rye, Colorado before but the views from Rye and on up to San Isabel Lake were gorgeous.

Rye Colorado

Ice fishing on San Isabel Lake.

Ice fishing on San Isabel Lake

Even though we arrived at the trail later than we normally like to, we discovered that we were far enough away from any large city that we would have the trail to ourselves today.

My Day on the Trail

It seemed like we had to drive around 10 miles on a national forest dirt road that was covered, mostly in snow but there were some steep sections that made the drive a little more interesting in my 2-wheel drive Toyota Tundra.

We arrived at the trail to find no one else there, but we also discovered that there were no bathroom facilities, other than what we brought with us.

San Carlos Trailhead

We were immediately concerned that we made a mistake in not renting snowshoes for this hike.

Needed snowshoes for this hike

We were hoping that the snow was packed down enough so that the hike wouldn’t be to difficult, but it was challenging and we both admitted that we should have been a little more prepared for this one.

The weather was perfect and it’s just nice to get out into the mountains in Colorado to enjoy the beauty of the forests.

San Carlos Trail

There were not a lot of mountain views for nearly the 1st mile on the trail but that was soon to change.

San Carlos Trail

We were able to get out on several rock outcroppings where we could see some nice views of the Rocky Mountains.

San Carlos Trail Rocky Mountains

San Carlos Trail Rocky Mountains

San Carlos Trail Rocky Mountains

We finally found an excellent opening with a view of the Rocky Mountains to the south and southwest and I think we stopped, pulled up a rock and just talked and enjoyed the weather and the views.

San Carlos Trail Rocky Mountains

I’m not sure you can tell from the following picture but there is a really nice canyon below us, called the Bear Canyon where the Saint Charles River runs through.

San Carlos Trail Rocky Mountains

It’s hard to explain in words, and even in pictures, how incredible the Rocky Mountains are. You just have to experience Colorado for yourself.

Rocky Mountains & San Carlos Trail

It was finally time to start heading back to the truck, as we knew a snow storm was approaching but we stopped for one last moment to take it all in.

San Carlos Trail

Trail Recommendations

This is a nice trail that takes you over a creek and has some beautiful views, but I wouldn’t call them outstanding views, compared to most of the other trails we have hiked.

The best part about this hike was the views while driving to and from the trail.

Lessons Learned

Don’t leave home without snowshoes when hiking in the winter.

MSR Lightning Ascent Backcountry & Mountaineering Snowshoes with Paragon Bindings, 30 Inch Pair, Black
  • Ultralight (4.93 lbs) technical snowshoes with superior traction for mountaineering, aggressive backcountry pursuits, and rugged terrain
  • 360-degree Traction Frames deliver edge-to-edge grip, especially on traverses, while durable steel DTX crampons provide serious bite on alpine steeps
  • Paragon bindings feature a one-piece contouring strap that wraps securely around boots, for a glove-like feel that eliminates rigid pressure points, and provides easy alignment and foot control
  • Ergo Televator heel lift bar flips up to increase uphill efficiency, provide help on steep ascents, and reduce fatigue
  • Snowshoes measure 8 x 30 inches, weigh 4.93 pounds/pair, and can carry up to a 280-pound load; bindings fit men’s shoes sizes 4.5-15; made in the USA

Lunch in Westcliffe

We decided to take the longer drive back to Castle Rock and stopped for lunch in Westcliffe, Colorado.

Drive to Westcliffe Colorado

We had never taken this drive before and we were glad we took it today.

Drive to Westcliffe Colorado

You can see in the photo above that the snow had started hitting the mountains higher up in elevation.

Westcliffe Colorado

We have driven through Westcliffe before, driving from Walsenburg to Gunnison, but this was the first time we had stopped.

Westcliffe is a nice little town, nestled in between two mountain ranges, southwest of Pueblo. We decided to take our chances on Chappys Mountain View Bar and Grill for lunch. It didn’t look like much from the outside but it was pleasant and comfortable inside.

Chappys Mountain View Bar & Grill

Chappys Mountain View Bar & Grill

My beer brat was exceptional but Caleb’s burger tasted more like a hot dog. Other than that, we enjoyed our lunch there in Westcliffe.

You can see a short YouTube video on the San Carlos trail below.

I would love to know if you have had any experience on this trail or have other trails you love to hike. Leave a Comment Below or send me an Email

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San Carlos Trail


Scenic Drive




Mountain Views


Lake or Stream Views


Well Maintained Trails



  • Scenic Drive
  • Remote & Quite Location
  • Easy to Hike Trail
  • Beautiful Saint Charles River
  • Gorgeous Mountain Views


  • Challenging Dirt Road Drive in the Winter

8 thoughts on “Hiking Trails in Colorado | San Carlos Trail”

  1. Sounds like you had quite an adventure! But the beauty of the Rockies is definitely worth it! I have been to Banff national park up in Canada, but after seeing the pictures you took I need to make a trip to Colorado soon. Plus being far enough away that it was not crowded is a big plus! Thank you for sharing! And don’t forget the snow shoes next time 😁

    • I think it’s about time for me to buy some snowshoes as we hike all year long. We have rented them so far but that cost will start adding up soon.


  2. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful article. I’ve never heard of hiking trails in Colorado.I’m very interested in finding out more hiking trails in Colorado. I will be traveling to Colorado next year and this gives me some great ideas and trails to consider. Thank you for sharing these experiences.

  3. Hello Rick,

    Thanks for allowing me to read your post on Hiking Trails in Colorado San Carlos Trail, I actually live in Colorado and find it to be one of the greatest places for hiking and walking trails no matter the season. I have to say it is a beautiful state with a lot of nature an many things to see and do. Our elevation is higher that most other places and can cause some breathing problems for some people.

    I’ve never been to San Carlos Trails but I do know if it takes you south on I-25 past Colorado Springs and you are in the mountains and about to hit some beautiful scenes and lakes. How high up is San Carlos Trails this seems like a great place to take my family to. I saw the snowshoes and they look so much lighter than those heave ski boots. Do thy work for cross country skiing? I have never seen them before. I enjoyed the beautiful pictures.

    Best Regards


    • Hi Audrey,

      The trail elevation is around 8,000 feet. 

      The snowshoes won’t help you with cross country skiing. They only help if you’re hiking in deep snow.

      The drive to the trail was incredible and even better when we took the long way home and drove through Westcliffe Colorado.


  4. the san carlos trail is one i have never been to. i heard of it a couple of times from a friend but i never really wanted to engage as i had little or no information about the vicinity. with the explicit information that you have given, i am now ready to go on a hiking and i will let you know about the experience

    • Let me know what you think of the area. It is a beautiful hike and I’m betting the San Isabel lake would be worth stopping at on the way to or from the hike when it warms up.



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