There are three trailheads on the northeast side of Conejos Peak. This route uses at the first trailhead, which is also the lowest by a few hundred feet, and may be the original or oldest trailhead. The trail starts at approximately 11,200' elevation, a mere 2000' feet below the Conejos Peak summit.
Advantage of this route is that you spend less time driving and get to see some lesser used terrain. Also, it features an exciting stream crossing.
Forest Road 250 runs along the Conejos River from Platoro down to Highway 17 near the Colorado - New Mexico state line. Drive up road 250 to the Lake Fork Ranch
turnoff, about 17 miles from the highway. This is Forest Road 105. Follow this road for 4.3 miles until you reach a T in the road. Turn left to stay on FR 105. Drive another 1.8 miles until you reach a right hairpin turn in the road. Park in the ample parking area on the inside of the hairpin curve. A 2WD SUV should be able to make this drive with little difficulty, assuming the road is dry.
The trailhead here is marked with an old, weathered trail sign reading "719". The route begins here.
Stream crossing Topo map
The trail is very confusing if you are expecting it to match the USGS maps. It heads west and southwest, roughly paralleling Saddle Creek. At about 0.6 miles it crosses Saddle Creek on a jumble of fallen logs. If the creek is high, or if you are averse to sketchy stream crossings, leave the trail just before crossing the creek.
Saddle Creek basin Nearing the east ridge
After crossing Saddle Creek, follow the trail south, up through a basin and onto steeper terrain until you gain the east ridge of Conejos Peak. There will be ample cattle trails in the area if you wish to depart the main trail for a more direct approach. Alternate routes are shown on the topo map on this page. Either way, gain the east ridge of Conejos Peak at a convenient point.
Follow the gentle ridge (sometimes even a trail) westward to the summit.
Nearing the summit
You may choose to descend via Tobacco Lake and the main trail. But do not assume (like I did) that you can find a trail from the main Tobacco Lake trail back to where you parked your vehicle. There is no such trail and the terrain is littered with fallen timber, thick underbrush, and some boggy patches. Instead, follow the main trail all the way out to the second or third trailhead and hike back down the road to your vehicle.
Standard day hiking gear. A GPS with waypoints would come in handy.