Panorama of CDT
What : Weminuche Wilderness

GORP site

Where : Southwestern Colorado

San Juan National Forest | Rio Grande National Forest (Created by this Act)

Photos: below, and here
Notes Wilderness Society Four Corners Area
Weather : Check “Eastern San Juan Mountains”

IWIN-NOAA | Air Quality information

Hiking : Great wilderness backpacking-or day hiking

Williams Creek-Indian Creek-Palisade Meadows-Continental Divide hike

Visited : 1986, 1990, 1995, 1997, 1998
Weminuche View

The Weminuche Wilderness area, in the San Juan National Forest in Southwestern Colorado, is one of the largest wilderness area in the U. S. and offers some of the best backpacking around, as well as having some relatively remote areas within.

I've taken a few backpacking trips there—in 1995 when a blister aborted my trip, and in 1997 and 1998. My routes started at the Williams Creek trailhead, (~8,360') and followed the creek up to its split with Indian Creek, then up again to its source in Palisade Meadows, where I camped.

View over Williams Creek from the trail ascending to the Continental Divide.

This hike starts at the Williams Creek trailhead, follows up the creek for a couple of miles, then crosses it and goes up Indian Creek for a couple of miles. (The Williams Creek crossing may be problematic at times, depending on snowmelt and time of year.) The trail begins to steepen here, and the hike continues up the rather narrow canyon, until it reaches the broad Palisade Meadows.

Williams Creek Trail
Haunting effect captured by patient photographer? No, actually just a fogged camera along Williams Creek trail.
Palisade Meadows

Palisade Meadows (~10,880)' has some great campsites, but there may also be other people nearby. Last September, there were two or three parties of Elk hunters there, and several horses had turned much of the trail into an almost impassable quagmire.

Palisade Meadows offers good camp sites, but sometimes there are others near.

I've always camped in Palisade Meadows, but I also like to camp above timberline. From the trailhead to Palisade, the trail was often muddy, and the heavy foliage and canyon walls obscured many vistas and tended to create a certain claustrophobia.

But up above this (I took the Palisade Meadows cut-off which heads directly to the Continental Divide) the trees thin out a bit and there seems to be much less traffic.

In July of '98, I continued crossing over the Divide and returning via the Williams Creek trail. I don't have pictures from that route because the weather turned and visibilty was severely limited by fog/clouds.

Near Continental Divide
The views from the Continental Divide are terrific.
Continental Divide Here are more pictures from the Divide.

Phil Gavenda

Last updated: 8/14/09