For outstanding views on the crest of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Comanche-Venable Loop Trail (USFS Trail 1345) is hard to beat. This is a spectacular hike – lots of granite faces, dark-blue alpine lakes and the famously exposed Phantom Terrace – but you really have to earn it. The 13-mile loop gains over 3600ft in elevation; start with Venable Canyon.
To get here, drive south on Hwy 69 for 3.5 miles, then turn off onto County Rd 140 (Schoolfield Rd). Follow the road for 4.5 miles; when you reach a T junction, turn left and continue another 2 miles.