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This trailhead description will begin from downtown Durango. If coming from the north of town on US550, drive south until 550 (aka: Main Street) crosses the Animas River. Less than 2 blocks after that crossing, turn east (left) onto 15th St. In a few blocks, this road turns NE and becomes Florida Rd., which in turn is CR240. Follow this paved road through mostly residential areas as it gains elevation for just under 12 miles to an intersection. Turn left onto CR243 and drive north to Lemon Reservoir. It's just over 4 miles to the reservoir where the road turns to graded gravel. Now drive 5.4 miles along the east shore of the reservoir and past the north end of it to a turnoff for the Florida Campground. Do not turn, but continue straight onto what will become FR597, aka: "East Florida Road" on the Trails Illustrated map. The road soon degenerates and heads generally NE, climbing up the mountainside on numerous switchbacks. The long and winding road continues from the Florida Campground turnoff for nearly 10 miles to the trailhead. There will be several at-large camping opportunities along the way as well as in the vicinity of the trailhead. The road is basically "single-lane," and though you really don't need 4WD, extra clearance is of help because the road is arduously rocky. You can never go very fast unless you want to rattle your vehicle to death. It took us about an hour and a half from Durango. Along FR597, there are numerous meadows with abundant yellow wildflowers. There were some potholes toward the end, but nothing challenging. We drove this road in 2006. Be aware that during our 2006 visit, we saw clear indications that a large group of domestic sheep are moved up this road and trail for summer grazing. You may encounter large trucks as a result.
Update 2020: We received this update from a site user. As with many Forest Service roads, apparently budget constraints restrict the amount of grading and other work that can be done on FS roads so most roads tend to fall into neglect and worsen in condition over the years. This road has apparently become one of those casualties. We were advised that the road has become even rockier, requiring slower driving and more time from Durango. The site user suggests that it may now take a minimum of two hours to 2.5 hours to make this drive. He also strongly advises that AWD or 4WD vehicles should be used with higher clearance. He did report seeing a RAV4 at the trailhead with apparent undercarriage damage from the drive. Please take this information into consideration when planning your trip.