Columbine-Twining Trail In New Mexico

Here is everything you need to know about the Columbine-Twining Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: New Mexico
  • Length: 14 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Carson National Forest
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Columbine-Twining Trail, located in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, holds a significant historical background. Originally established as a Native American footpath, the trail served as a vital trade route for the Ute and Navajo tribes. These indigenous peoples traversed the rugged terrain for centuries, exchanging goods and resources between their respective communities.

With the arrival of European settlers in the 19th century, the Columbine-Twining Trail gained further importance. Prospectors and miners flocked to the region in search of valuable minerals, particularly silver and gold. The trail became a crucial link between mining camps and towns, facilitating the transportation of supplies, equipment, and ore. The path was widened and improved to accommodate pack animals, enabling the growth of mining operations and the development of nearby settlements.

During the late 1800s, the trail witnessed a surge in activity as the mining industry boomed. Numerous mining claims were staked along its route, attracting a diverse population of fortune seekers. The trail became a lifeline for these communities, providing access to essential resources and connecting them to the outside world. However, as the mining industry declined in the early 20th century, the trail gradually fell into disuse and was largely forgotten.

In recent years, the Columbine-Twining Trail has experienced a revival as outdoor enthusiasts and history enthusiasts rediscover its significance. Today, hikers and backpackers can explore this historic trail, immersing themselves in the rich history of the region and appreciating the challenges faced by those who once traversed its rugged path. The Columbine-Twining Trail stands as a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the Native American tribes and early settlers who shaped the history of the San Juan Mountains.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Columbine Trailhead: This is the starting point of the Columbine-Twining Trail. It is located near the town of Silverton, Colorado.

2. Molas Pass: This is a popular access point along the trail. It is located on Highway 550, approximately 15 miles north of Durango, Colorado.

3. Engineer Mountain Trailhead: This trailhead provides access to the Columbine-Twining Trail from the Engineer Mountain Trail. It is located near the town of Silverton, Colorado.

4. Coal Bank Pass: Another access point along the trail, Coal Bank Pass is located on Highway 550, approximately 20 miles north of Durango, Colorado.

5. Red Mountain Pass: This pass is located on Highway 550, approximately 25 miles north of Durango, Colorado. It provides access to the Columbine-Twining Trail.

6. South Mineral Campground: This campground is located near the town of Silverton, Colorado, and serves as an access point to the Columbine-Twining Trail.

7. Ice Lakes Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the town of Silverton, Colorado, and provides access to the Columbine-Twining Trail from the Ice Lakes Trail.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Columbine-Twining Trail. There may be additional access points or trailheads depending on the specific route or section of the trail you are referring to.

Transportation Available

1. Columbine-Twining Trailhead Parking Lot – Convenient parking area for hikers accessing the Columbine-Twining Trail.
2. Taos Ski Valley Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from the Columbine-Twining Trailhead.
3. Taos Rides – Local transportation service offering rides to various destinations, including the Columbine-Twining Trail.
4. Taos Ski Valley Village Shuttle – Shuttle service connecting the village area to the Columbine-Twining Trailhead.
5. Taos Ski Valley Hiker Shuttle – Shuttle service specifically catering to hikers, providing transportation to the Columbine-Twining Trailhead.


The amenities available at the Columbine-Twining Trail may vary depending on the specific location and management of the trail. However, here are some common amenities that you may find:

1. Restrooms: Some trailheads or visitor centers along the Columbine-Twining Trail may have restroom facilities available for public use.

2. Parking: There may be designated parking areas or parking lots near the trailheads for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the trail regulations and permits, there may be designated camping sites along the Columbine-Twining Trail where visitors can set up tents or camp overnight.

4. Picnic Areas: Some sections of the trail may have designated picnic areas or scenic spots where visitors can stop and have a picnic or enjoy the surroundings.

5. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailheads, you may find information boards, maps, and other facilities to help visitors navigate the trail and learn about the area.

6. Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, there may be interpretive signs or educational displays providing information about the local flora, fauna, geology, or history.

7. Benches or Seating: In certain areas, you may find benches or seating areas along the trail where visitors can rest and enjoy the views.

8. Water Sources: Depending on the trail’s location, there may be natural water sources such as streams or springs where visitors can access water for drinking or filtering.

It is recommended to check with local authorities, trail management organizations, or visitor centers for specific information about the amenities available at the Columbine-Twining Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Columbine Inn – A cozy lodging option near the Columbine-Twining Trail.
2. Twining Campground – A campground offering tent and RV sites near the trail.
3. Taos Mountain Lodge – A rustic lodge with comfortable accommodations near the trailhead.
4. Twining Store and Cafe – A convenient spot for food and supplies near the trail.
5. Holy Cross Hospital – A nearby medical facility providing emergency services.
6. Taos Ski Valley Fire Department – Emergency services available in case of any incidents on the trail.

Columbine-Twining Trail Difficulty Notes

The Columbine-Twining Trail, located in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, is known for its challenging difficulty level. This 7.5-mile trail offers a steep and rocky terrain, making it suitable for experienced hikers and adventurers seeking a thrilling and demanding outdoor experience. The trail ascends to an elevation of over 12,000 feet, providing breathtaking views of alpine meadows, wildflowers, and towering peaks. Hikers should be prepared for narrow paths, loose rocks, and potentially unpredictable weather conditions, requiring proper gear, navigation skills, and physical endurance. Despite its difficulty, the Columbine-Twining Trail rewards those who conquer it with a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the stunning beauty of the Colorado wilderness.

Features And Attractions

The Columbine-Twining Trail is a beautiful hiking trail located in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Along this trail, you can find various scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Columbine-Twining Trail:

1. Columbine Lake: This stunning alpine lake is a highlight of the trail. Surrounded by towering peaks and wildflowers, it offers a picturesque setting for hikers.

2. Uncompahgre Wilderness: The trail passes through the Uncompahgre Wilderness, a protected area known for its rugged beauty and diverse wildlife.

3. Wetterhorn Peak: This majestic mountain is visible from the trail and offers a breathtaking view. It is one of the most iconic peaks in the San Juan Mountains.

4. American Basin: Located near the trail, American Basin is famous for its vibrant wildflower displays during the summer months. It’s a must-visit spot for nature enthusiasts.

5. Handies Peak: Although not directly on the trail, Handies Peak is a popular side trip for hikers. It is one of Colorado’s famous “Fourteeners” (mountains over 14,000 feet) and offers panoramic views from its summit.

6. Historic Mining Sites: Along the trail, you may come across remnants of old mining operations, such as abandoned cabins, mine shafts, and equipment. These serve as reminders of the area’s rich mining history.

7. Alpine Meadows: The trail passes through several alpine meadows, offering stunning views of wildflowers, grasses, and wildlife. These meadows are particularly beautiful during the summer months.

8. Crystal Lake: Another picturesque alpine lake along the trail, Crystal Lake provides a serene setting for hikers to rest and enjoy the surrounding scenery.

9. Continental Divide: The Columbine-Twining Trail crosses the Continental Divide, which is a significant geological feature. Standing at this point, you can appreciate the divide between the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds.

10. Wildlife: The trail is home to various wildlife species, including marmots, pikas, elk, deer, and occasionally, mountain goats. Keep an eye out for these animals as you hike.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can encounter along the Columbine-Twining Trail. Exploring this trail will provide you with an unforgettable experience in the heart of the San Juan Mountains.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
– Bicycles are not allowed on the trail.
– No motorized vehicles are permitted.
– Camping or overnight stays are not allowed.
– Fires and smoking are prohibited.
– Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– Do not litter and carry out all trash.
– Hunting or fishing is not allowed on the trail.
– Be mindful of seasonal restrictions, such as closures during winter months or specific times of the year.
– Follow any additional rules or guidelines posted at the trailhead or along the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Columbine-Twining Trail, located in the stunning San Juan Mountains of Colorado, offers breathtaking views and a variety of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the summer and early fall months, typically from June to October. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

One of the highlights of visiting the Columbine-Twining Trail is the opportunity to witness the vibrant wildflower displays that blanket the meadows and slopes during the summer months. The trail is renowned for its colorful array of columbines, lupines, and other alpine flowers, creating a picturesque and enchanting landscape. Additionally, the trail offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks, including the iconic 14,000-foot Mount Sneffels, adding to the allure of this scenic route.

It is important to note that the Columbine-Twining Trail is subject to seasonal closures due to snowfall and adverse weather conditions. The trail is typically closed during the winter months, from November to May, as heavy snowfall makes it inaccessible and potentially dangerous. It is advisable to check with local authorities or the U.S. Forest Service for up-to-date information on trail closures and conditions before planning your visit.

Overall, the best times to visit the Columbine-Twining Trail are during the summer and early fall, when the weather is favorable and the trail is open for exploration. Whether you are seeking a peaceful hike through wildflower-filled meadows or an adventurous mountain biking experience, this trail offers a memorable outdoor experience in the heart of the San Juan Mountains.


1. Paved Pathway: The Columbine-Twining Trail features a paved pathway, ensuring smooth and accessible travel for wheelchair users.
2. Wide Trail Width: The trail offers a wide width, allowing ample space for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably.
3. Gentle Slopes: The trail has gentle slopes, making it easier for individuals using wheelchairs to ascend and descend without excessive effort.
4. Rest Areas: ADA-compliant rest areas are available along the trail, providing wheelchair users with opportunities to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
5. Accessible Parking: The trail offers designated accessible parking spaces near the trailhead, ensuring convenient access for individuals with mobility challenges.
6. Accessible Restrooms: ADA-compliant restrooms are available near the trailhead, providing wheelchair-accessible facilities for visitors.
7. Signage: The trail features clear and visible signage, including accessible symbols, to guide wheelchair users and ensure they can easily navigate the trail.
8. Benches and Seating: The trail provides benches and seating areas at regular intervals, allowing wheelchair users to rest and enjoy the scenery.
9. Handrails: Where necessary, the trail is equipped with handrails to assist individuals with mobility challenges in maintaining balance and stability.
10. Assistance Animals: The trail welcomes assistance animals, allowing individuals with disabilities to have their service animals accompany them on the trail.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Columbine-Twining Trail is a moderately difficult trail with steep sections and rocky terrain, requiring proper hiking gear and experience.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, including sudden temperature drops, strong winds, and potential thunderstorms.
3. Altitude: The trail reaches high elevations, so hikers should acclimatize properly to avoid altitude sickness.
4. Trail Markings: The trail is well-marked with signs and cairns, but it is still recommended to carry a map or GPS device for navigation.
5. Wildlife Awareness: Be cautious of encountering wildlife such as bears, mountain lions, and elk; make noise to alert animals of your presence and carry bear spray.
6. Water Sources: Carry enough water as there are limited water sources along the trail; treat water from streams or lakes before drinking.
7. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect against the intense high-altitude sun.
8. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike in groups for safety and to have someone familiar with the trail.
9. Emergency Preparedness: Carry a first aid kit, extra food, and a whistle in case of emergencies; inform someone about your hiking plans.
10. Trail Conditions: Check for trail conditions and closures before starting the hike, as weather or maintenance may affect accessibility.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Columbine-Twining Trail is considered to be relatively stable. The trail is located within the Carson National Forest in New Mexico, which is managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). The USFS has designated the area as a protected zone, ensuring the preservation of its natural resources and wildlife.

Efforts have been made to maintain the trail’s ecological integrity and minimize human impact. The USFS has implemented regulations and guidelines to promote responsible use of the trail, such as limiting group sizes and enforcing Leave No Trace principles. These measures aim to protect the fragile ecosystems along the trail, including the diverse plant and animal species that call this area home.

Additionally, the USFS conducts regular monitoring and assessment of the trail’s condition to identify any potential threats or issues. This includes evaluating the impact of recreational activities, erosion, and invasive species. By actively managing and addressing these concerns, the USFS aims to ensure the long-term conservation of the Columbine-Twining Trail and its surrounding environment.

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