Directions: The loop described here is located in the Dutch Charlie unit of Ridgway State Park. The unit is accessed from Hwy 50 3 miles north of Ridgway. After you pass through the main gate, make a U-Turn and park at the Visitor Center. The Forest Discovery Trail begins at the back of the VC.
Ridgway State Park sits at the border of the Colorado Plateau and the San Juan Mountains. The park is hilly and forested and encompasses Ridgway Reservoir. While the main focus of this park is the numerous camping options, the views of the San Juan Mountains are the real draw.
This combination of trails begins by joining the Forest Discovery Trail and the Scenic View trail at the Visitor Center. From the Forest Discovery Trail you are immediately treated to incredible views of the Cimarron Range to the east, with Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain on full display. This view keeps on popping up as you hike the easy (great for kids) nature trail. On the east side of the trail is the reservoir with it's amazing views of the Sneffels Range to the south. Mt. Sneffels (14,150ft), the sentinel of the range and towers above the reservoir.
After competing the Forest Discovery Trail follow the scenic view trail (paved) down to the viewing platform for more reservoir/Sneffels views. Continue past the platform to meet up with the Wapiti Trail which switchbacks up the hill to the campground. At the campground (closed in winter), work your way to the southern end of the first loop to find the trailhead for the Sunset Ridge Trail. Follow this trail for more impressive views and more viewing platforms with views of the Sneffels Range as well as views of the northern part of the reservoir.
From the Sunset Ridge viewing platform continue on the trail as it winds to the northern end of the campground. From here work your way back to the Wapiti Trail and back down to the Visitor Center.
This combination doesn't include all the Dutch Charlie Trails but it does highlight those with the best views of the San Juan Mountains. The draw of these mountains is irresistible, from Ridgway all you need to do is head south for some of the finest alpine adventure that Colorado has to offer...
HIKES BY REGION
NATIONAL PARK HIKES
- BENT'S OLD FORT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
- COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
- CURECANTI NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
- DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
- FLORISSANT FOSSIL BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
- MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
- ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
- GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
- HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT
- SAND CREEK MASSACRE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
- YUCCA HOUSE NATIONAL MONUMENT
- HIKES BY CATEGORY
- $UPPORT GHC
- INTERACTIVE MAP
Dutch Charlie Trails (Nature Trail > Overlook > Wapiti > Sunset Ridge Loop)
Ridgway State Park
Date Hiked: April 22, 2017
Distance: 3 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 300 ft
Elevation Min/Max:7,021 to 7,194 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long:38º 12' 44" N; 107º 44' 01" W
Managing Agency: Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife
Fee: Yes ($7)