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Emerald Lake   The hike to Emerald Lake is known to many locals as one of the main classic over-night packtrips in the Durango region.  A good portion of this trip occurs within the Weminuch Wilderness, which means by foot or on horseback are the only options for travel.  This tip has an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet in 10 miles, with a fairly steep climb to reach the lakes.  Since the journey is 20 miles round trip, an overnight pack trip is the most popular option in the mid summer months, either by horseback or by backpacking.  Mid-summer is by far the best time to plan on overnighter to the high lakes because there is often still snow at Emerald Lake even in late July and early August which is the warmest months of the summer here. Once you have finally climbed far enough to see your first glimpse of a dazzling bright blue-green lake, you are still not quite there yet.  This first lake is actually “Little Emerald Lake” and just beyond it is “Big Emerald Lake.”  The views here are absolutely breathtaking, and the lake water is unbelievably clear, making the long trip is well worth the effort. Fishing is allowed in the lakes by artificial flies and lures only.  Be sure to read the current fishing regulations that that posted at the trailhead before making your trip, the camping and fishing regulations are well enforced. The trailhead to reach Emerald Lake is found on the east side of the much larger Valliceto Reservoir.  There is a large parking area at the trailhead with restrooms and many informative signs posting regulations and use.  Expect day-use and overnight parking fees at this trailhead. Day use of this trail is often utilized by fishermen looking for some nice pristine river terrain to do some fly fishing.  The first part of the trail crosses private land which is posted along the trail. If you are looking for an overnight horseback or backpacking trip to some beautiful high country lakes, this is the trip for you!