Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
With the low mileage count and very little elevation gained, Potato Lake is a great family-friendly option in the San Juan Mountains.
Follow all San Juan National Forest regulations while camping at Spud Lake.
A steady one mile climb gradually pulls you 400 feet up the high mountainside. Surrounded by aspens for the first half mile of the route, this would be a great hike in the fall, but during the wintertime, views of Grayrock Peak and Engineer Mountain are all that more clear beyond the sparse woods.
Ducking into the pines, the trail skirts a small creek and a number of swampy beaver ponds before reaching the shores of Potato Lake at about 9,800 feet. Here, the woods open to views of Potato Hill rising on the opposite shores. A short loop surrounds the lake, offering differing views on the rugged Needle Mountains which surround Potato Lake.
Within such an easy drive from Durango, and waters filled with trout, this is a popular destination for hiking, snowshoeing, fishing and camping. You'll be hard pressed to find the lake to yourself.
Flora & Fauna
The trailhead is right next to a beaver pond, so keep your eyes open for a sighting, and watch for deer, elk and snakes while on the trail. Spud lake becomes a very colorful trail during the late spring and summer when the wildflowers and aspens are in bloom. A wide-reaching diversity of bird species brings birders and photographers alike to the area.
Shared By: Caroline Cordsen