***Please note that The Colorado Hiker is no longer being updated.  For current information on this trail and other Colorado tips, please visit Nomad Colorado.  You can find specific information on this trail by visiting the Quartz Lake Colorado page on Nomad Colorado.***

Quartz Lake Trailhead: Little Blanco Trailhead

Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Fishing

Closest City / Town: Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Driving Directions:
  • Go south on U.S. Hwy. 84 for 1/8 mile, turn left on Mill Creek Road (FDR 662).
  • Proceed 6.5 miles, then at the junction take Nipple Mountain Road (FDR 665) to the right.
  • Continue 9.5 miles to the trailhead.

Hiking Distance: 9.4 miles (roundtrip)

Description: The first three miles of this trail seem to wind strait up the side of a mountain, then the trail tapers off for another mile, and it is all downhill from there.  The hike offers expansive views of the Weminuche Wilderness and South San Juan Wilderness areas.

Zeus really knows how to reign supreme in South San Juan Wilderness Area – lightning is almost always in the forecast during the growing season.  On this hike you’ll gain nearly 2,000′ in elevation.  The Little Blanco Trailhead sits at 10,040′.  You will eventually top out at 12,050′ before descending down to Quartz Lake.

Worth Noting:  If you have the time, be sure to make the trek all the way up to the Continental Divide.  For more details on the hike to the Divide, see the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) link below.

The last grizzly bear ever spotted in Colorado was shot and killed in 1979 by a bow hunter in South San Juan.  The area is frequently thought of as a good place to reintroduce grizzlies in Colorado.


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TX HKR September 29, 2016 8:49 am
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The quartz lake hike was quite the challenge as you must hike up and over a steep ridge, but the end of the trail is without a doubt the most pristine and beautiful lake I’ve ever had the pleasure of laying my eyes upon. The aches and pains from hiking such a difficult trail are all forgotten the moment the trees open up and Quartz lake is in view. I cannot recommend this hike enough.

Jane Sulp July 11, 2016 1:15 pm

Absolutely loved it! 5 stars all around. Thank you for sharing this with me.