The Comanche-Venable Loop serves as a great introduction to the Sangre de Cristo ("Blood of Christ") Mountains. This hike will take you to the crest of the "Sangres" that separates the San Isabel and Rio Grande National Forests. On the 12 mile route you'll experience the spectacular scenery this area is well-known for, including high mountain lakes, abundant wildflowers, and the vast stands of aspens.
The most memorable geological feature on this hike is called the Phantom Terrace- a narrow shelf typically 3 to 4 feet wide that cuts the steep flank of Venable Peak and gives passage between the Venable Lakes and Comanche Lakes drainages. The Phantom Terrace gets it's name from the camouflaged nature of the path as you approach Venable Pass when hiking the loop in counter-clockwise fashion.
Early season snow banks or late-season ice flows from water seepage can make this segment of the trail treacherous. Lower on the Venable drainage you'll encounter a spur trail that leads to Venable Falls- a bit over two miles from the trailhead. The Venable-Comanche Loop can be hiked in either direction. Autumn trips afford hikers the most stunning views of the Crestones and their aspen stands, and spring/summer hikers will be greeted by amazing wildflowers, and Venable Falls will be at its best.