The V Rock trail provides some of the most beautiful views in Pagosa Springs, Colorado during the fall months when the aspen leaves are changing colors. It’s not an easy hike for those not accustomed to the high altitude, but it is definitely worth it.

I have not edited a single photo in this post. All photos were taken with my phone. It really does look exactly like this in the fall.

gold aspen trees and mountains
View from top of V Rock Trail

V Rock Trail Description

The V Rock trail (USFS trail #578) is a 4.0 mile trail (one-way) to where it intersects with the Leche Creek Trail (USFS trail #576). A full round-trip would be 8 miles long.

V Rock trail with aspen leaves
Aspen tree leaves along trail
aspen and spruce trees
Aspen trees along V Rock trail

The first 1.5 miles is straight uphill. You will climb over 1,000 feet to over 10,600 feet in elevation.

The trail is continually uphill.

spruce tree with aspen leaves
Spruce tree with gold aspen leaves

But once you get past that first 1.5 miles, the trail flattens out.

Meadow atop V Rock trail
Meadow at top of V Rock trail

At this point, the V Rock trail enters the South San Juan Wilderness Area, which is shown in the darker green color on the map below.

south san juan wilderness sign
South San Juan Wilderness sign

You will have views of the San Juan mountains, sometimes covered in fog.

mountains V Rock trail
View of mountains along V Rock trail

The V Rock trail approaches the summit of V Rock but turns left before reaching the peak.

gold aspen trees with green spruce trees
Spruce and aspen trees put on a spectacular display in the fall

Hikers can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. On clear days, the panoramic vistas are particularly impressive.

view of squaretop mountain in pagosa springs
View of Squaretop Mountain in Pagosa Springs

The USFS Interactive Visitor Map of the V Rock trail is below. You can click here or on the map to go directly to the interactive map for more details.

map of V Rock trail
USFS Interactive Visitor Map of V Rock trail

Shorter Version of V Rock Trail to Geode Hill

There is a shorter version of the V Rock trail that takes you to a phenomenal overlook, particularly in the fall.

In this version, you will take the first 2 1/4 miles of the V Rock trail.

spruce trees under aspen trees
Aspen and spruce trees
Fog in the mountains

After going through a meadow in a flat area, you will see a large hill on your left with a trail leading to it. This is known as Geode Hill as people frequently find small geodes there.

buckles lake view
Blanket of gold aspen trees

Take this trail to left up to Geode Hill. There are beautiful views of the Blanco River Basin area. Have lunch or a snack and take in the views!

geode hill view
View of Buckles Lake
View of Blanco River Basin
Edge of Buckles Lake from V Rock trail

The circled area in the map below shows the location of the overlook area on Geode Hill.

V Rock trail with geode hill marked in red
Geode Hill area in red

Combined with the return trip down the V Rock trail, this shorter version of the trail is about 5 miles long.

The video below is of the view from Geode Hill.

YouTube video

Longer Version to Leche Creek Trail

To do the full V Rock trail, you will continue past Geode Hill for another 1.5 miles.

fog on san juan mountains
Fog over San Juan Mountains

At this point, the V Rock trail will intersect with the Leche Creek trail. You can turn around or continue on the Leche Creek trail.

Trail Conditions

The trail goes through stands of spruce and aspen trees before reaching the meadow at about 2 miles in.

grove of aspen trees
Aspen trees along V Rock trail

When we hiked in early October, there was fresh snow on the ground and aspen tree leaves covering the trail.

aspen leaves with snow on the ground
Aspen leaves with snow
V Rock trail covered with aspen tree leaves
Trail partially covered with aspen leaves

Most of the first part of the trail is shaded by trees, but you’ll be in the sun on the top meadow areas.

Amenities at Trailhead

There is a vault toilet at the trailhead, but that is all.

Be sure to bring whatever water and food you need.


  • Mosquito repellent: If you are hiking in the summer months, bring mosquito repellent. If you’re hiking after the first frost (usually in September at this elevation), the mosquito activity will be a lot lower as mosquitoes die off.
  • GPS and map: Make sure you have a GPS-enabled device and a backup printed map. The trail can sometimes be overgrown (particularly in the last 1.5 miles to where it intersects with the Leche Creek Trail). You don’t want to get lost.
  • CORSAR card: Consider purchasing a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card. An annual card costs $3, and a five-year card is $12. This card supports the Colorado Search and Rescue Reimbursement Fund, which helps cover costs of search and rescue operations. Owning a CORSAR card could save you money in a rescue scenario and supports essential services.
  • Hunting season: Consider wearing an orange vest or other bright orange attire during hunting season. This is a popular area for hunters.
mountain views along V Rock trail
Mountain views

Getting There

To get to the V Rock trailhead, follow the directions to the Buckles Lake Trailhead. (The V Rock Trailhead does not show up Google Maps or many other maps.) Both the Buckles Lake and V Rock trails start from the same parking area.

See the driving instructions and photos on the Buckles Lake and Harris Lake post.

We go into details about the road up to the trailhead, tree carvings by sheep herders, and other details. The instructions are the exact same for the V Rock trail, so rather than repeating them, please see the information there.

Google Map

Final Thoughts on the V Rock Trail

The V Rock trail in the fall is one of the best trails in the Pagosa Springs area to see the aspen tree colors. It is not an easy hike, but you will love the view!

If you’d like an easier hike, check out the Buckles Lake and Harris Lake trail or the Opal Lake trail. Both are in the same area, south of Pagosa Springs.