DIRECTIONS: From Lake George, CO at US Highway 24 take County Road 96 south. After two miles veer right at the fork to stay on 96. Pay your fee at the entrance station and continue down the canyon road almost to the end. The trailhead is just before the Spillway Campground about 8.5 miles from the Entrance Station.
The Eleven Mile Canyon Recreation Area combines most of Colorado's best outdoor activities (hiking, camping, climbing, and fishing) all into one narrow rocky canyon. The canyon is located along the eastern border of South Park and connects to Eleven Mile State Park. There are only two hiking trails in the canyon, the Hardrock Nature Trail and the Overlook Trail. The Overlook Trail is short, steep, and stunning.
The Overlook Trail is located just east of the Eleven Mile Reservoir Dam and the Spillway Campground with a small (easy to miss) trailhead along the road. There is space along the road for a few cars otherwise you need to park at the dam and walk back along the road. The trailhead sits at the base of a rocky cliff and the trail goes straight up.
The majority of the trail is made up of rock steps built into cracks in the rocky cliff-side. From time to time the trail gets difficult to discern but keep heading up and if you find yourself climbing or gaining elevation while not hiking on rock steps then you might be on the wrong track. There is one spot, fairly early on, that might give you some trouble navigating. After the initial elevation gain, the trail evens out on a dirt track for a few minutes, you may see two trails here. Bear right towards the rocky hill, do not take the left fork leading to the base of the cliffs.
As you climb higher the views of the canyon will start to open up giving you a rare birds eye view of the canyon and the area's rocky peaks. This area really is amazing. The trail towards the top becomes more and more exposed and soon you'll be on the rocky summit. The overlook has incredible views to the east of the dam, Eleven Mile Reservoir, South Park, and the mountains beyond. On a clear day you'll be able to see the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness and the Collegiate Peaks. The view is well worth the cardio effort.
After you've enjoyed your views, head back down the same way you came, and enjoy the rest of your time in Eleven Mile Canyon.
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
Eleven Mile Canyon Recreation Area
Pike National Forest
Date Hiked: May 25, 2019
Distance: 1 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 474 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 8,412 to 8,884 ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 38º 54' 19" N; 105º 27' 55" W
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service