Weminuche Wilderness-Lime Mesa Trail

Hermosa Cliffs, Missionary Ridge, Upper Animas Valley, San Juan National Forest
A View From Missionary Ridge

Forty-five years ago, while working for the Forest Service on my summer break from college, a co-worker told me about this “really cool place” on Missionary Ridge in the San Juan National Forest. He described how he and his father and grandfather had was at the end of one of the forest access roads that we were working on. He described how beautiful it was and that there was a high mountain lake there with good fishing.

My First Trip To Overlook Point

I filed this tidbit of info away for later consideration. I didn’t think much of it for several years. Five years later, while discussing various lies and tales over some tequila, with my brother, the subject of fishing high mountain lakes came up. Well, the story of Ruby Lake near Overlook Point, came out of the archives of “cool things to do”. We decided to go the next day. We left home in Durango, Colorado for the day’s adventure. We gave our selves plenty of time. We were on the road at 6 AM. We arrived at the access road we were looking for only to find it restricted to foot traffic. This would add 4miles to our hike. Considering we had come this far, we felt it only right to complete our adventure. So, we continued. The hike took us six hours, four longer than we had expected.Overlook Point Vista We did finally make it to Overlook Point. The hike was most definitely worth it. The view was/is spectacular. The fishing was another matter. It was mid-June and the lake was still frozen!!! The fish were safe for now!

Repeated Forays Into the Wilderness

Ruby Lake, Mountain View Crest, San Juan National Forest, Weminuche Wilderness
Ruby Lake

Since that first trip into Ruby Lake, I have been back in four more times. I found a much shorter road and hiking trail. It is now called the”Lime Mesa Trail” and can be found on most current hiking maps of the San Juan National Forest. The fishing is okay. I don’t believe the lake is stocked, but I have caught some very nice trout.

The Last Trip

This trip has been on my “bucket list”. At my age, 68yrs, my chances of getting back in here are not particularly high, given the rest of my list. The drive is 24 miles from the Missionary Road turnoff. to the trailhead. Most of the road is 2wd Forest Service road. The last two miles is “bone jarring” 4wd. And you better have 4wd. There isn’t anything technical, but it is ROUGH!

Lime Mesa trailhead

The hike is not difficult. It is about four miles total. The trail winds through spruce and fir forest for about two miles, until you arrive at Dollar Lake.

Dollar Lake along the Lime Mesa trail

This gives way to tundra for the remaining two miles. The last part is a pretty good climb probably 2000 verticle feet. It is about an hour and three-quarter hike.

Mountain wildflowers

A detailed description of the hike can be found on the Forest Service website click here.

At The Top

As I said before, the end result is spectacular. You reach the final “saddle” in the Mountain View Crest ridge, to see in front of three mountain peaks that are just under fourteen thousand feet and one that is just over that. As you look fifteen hundred feet below you see the emerald green Ruby Lake and just beyond that is Pear Lake.

Pear Lake

The trail ends there but you can continue on down to the lakes below and if you are adventurous the drainage leads on to Needle Creek and either Chicago Basin to the east or to the Durango & Silverton Railroad whistle stop at Needleton.

“This Is My Church”

West Needle Mountains

When we arrived at the summit, I sat on a boulder and listened to the peace and quiet. This has always been one of my favorite places of all time. My brother put it so well when he said, “This is my church”.

I hope you have enjoyed my photos of the Lime Mesa Trail hike. It is a spectacular hike and well worth your time. If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to leave me a note at the end of this post. If you would like an email notification when more posts about the Four Corners are added, fill out the subscription form.  Thank you for visiting.