Keep in mind, this is a national forest, not a national park. This means there is no visitor center or park ranger at the forest. There are minimum trail signs. We drove to the information center at 15 Burnett Court in Durango. The center has a few small exhibits on local wildlife. Alan S was very, very helpful in helping us choose trails out of hundreds of trails. He gave us a useful tips and a few options, including Spud Lake trail which is the trail we decided to do.
The start of this trail is about an hour from Durango. Driving from Durango to San Juan national forest, you do pass the Durango Mountain Resort/purgatory and the Pinkerton Hot spring rock thing on the right side of the road.
Alan at the information center gave us exact directions to find the trail head to Spud Lake. It's about a 45 minute drive up a mountain once turning off the highway. We had a Chevy Sonic as a rental and had to drive about 5pmh to navigate across the rocks, pools of water, etc. It was a tough drive, as Alan warned us. You park off this unofficial dirt lot next to a big pond filled with lilies. It's deceiving because the road does continue upward. The information sheet for this hike says its about a mile to get to Spud Lake, it's definitely more than a mile. It is an easy-moderate hike with great views.
We actually came upon some sad-looking ponds and thought it was Spud Lake but luckily we kept walking because the "Real" Spud Lake is breathtaking. The hike was well worth it.
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