July 10, 2018 Slideshows » Columns

Road trip hike: Goodwin Lake 

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Southwest of Colorado Springs, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are a treasure trove of hiking, camping and peak bagging opportunities.

Music Pass, Venable and Commanche Lakes, the Rainbow Trail, Crestone Peak and many other popular hiking destinations are dotted along the mountains that separate the San Luis and Wet Valleys. On the east side of the mountains, the twin towns of Silvercliffe and Westcliffe serve as the supply points for trips into the nearby mountains.

Goodwin Lakes, a series of small lakes at about 11,400-feet, is an example of one of the many scenic hikes in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. This out-and-back hike is a little over 10.5 miles long, and is mostly difficult with some easy moderate sections along the way.

To get there: Take state Highway 115 from the Springs to Florence, then state Highway 67 south to Wetmore. Go west on state Highway 96 to Westcliffe, south on state Highway 69, and turn right onto County Road 140 (some maps will show CR 140 as Schofield Road, but all the street signs say CR 140). Follow CR 140 west for several miles to a "T" at CR 141, and turn left, then right again where it ends and back onto CR 140. Follow CR 140 for a few more miles and watch for a sign on the right for the Venable and Commanche Trails. Follow the dirt road to the upper parking lot. The Commanche and Venable Trails both start here, a few hundred feet apart. Start at the Venable Trail.
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Bob Falcone
This hike starts at the Venable Trail.
Bob Falcone
Take the Venable Trail for about .5 miles to the Rainbow Trail. All distances were measured from this point.
Bob Falcone
After .5 miles, the rocky, steep trail meets the Rainbow Trail which runs north and south along the east side of the Sangre de Cristos. Turn right here.
Bob Falcone
A short distance later, the Venable Trail cuts off to the left. Continue straight on the Rainbow Trail. This trail is mostly easy tread and flat.
Bob Falcone
At about 1.25 miles, the trail crosses Goodwin Creek.
Bob Falcone
At about 1.41 miles, the Goodwin Lakes Trail #1346 meets the Rainbow Trail. Turn left here.
Bob Falcone
The Goodwin Lakes trail starts out steep and rocky, and stays that way until about 1.8 miles. A short distance after turning up the trail is an information sign board for the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. Take a minute to sign in to the trail register.
Bob Falcone
After 1.8 miles the trail gets easier with the Goodwin Creek to the left of the trail. The forest is pretty dense here, with occasional wildflowers, and then at 2.7 miles the trail opens up to this meadow. The trail goes to the right and keeps the meadow to the left of the trail.
Bob Falcone
After meadow, the trail is fairly easy for a short distance until it starts to climb again. This area of the forest was heavily damaged by pine bark beetles, so there are many instances of trees down across the trail. If the tree hasn't been cut away, the trail is routed around it.
Bob Falcone
The wildflowers get more plentiful, varied and larger as the trail gains altitude. We observed Larkspur, fireweed, asters, sunflowers, and even Columbines like these along the trail.
Bob Falcone
At about 4.4 miles, the trail crosses Goodwin Creek. The trail rises steeply here for about another mile until reaching Goodwin Lake. Along the way, the foliage gets remarkably denser, with wildflowers great abundance in early July. We observed Larkspur plants approaching 5' tall, along with many other plants.
Bob Falcone
About a mile after crossing Goodwin Creek, the trail arrives at Goodwin Lake. The lake is small, and fairly shallow. We observed a number of trout in the creek and lots of wildflowers surrounding it. At about 11,400', it's below treeline, offering some nice shade on a hot summer day. The return trip retraces the hike up, and will be about 10.56 miles round trip.
Bob Falcone
The route to the lake and back.
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Bob Falcone23 images
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Bob Falcone
This hike starts at the Venable Trail.

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