This trail is absolutely stellar, and every American should see these incredible views at least once in their lifetime. The trails are all very well-maintained and quite easy to find. I think the best time to visit would be in late July or August, as there was snow above 11,500 ft when we visited. Bring bug repellant (no brainer), and make sure you sterilize your water religiously. I came back with Giardia, and I sterilized with a Steripen, so be extra careful. There are well-placed camping spots all along the route. The most dramatic aspect of this hike is the wildflowers. Fields and fields of them. July/August is the Rocky Mountain monsoon, so expect rain in the afternoon and equip yourself accordingly. Temperatures dipped into the high 20's above 11,000' at night, and the day temps were in the 60s. We rode the train, which I have mixed feelings about. My son and I (he's 12) paid $120 for two roundtrip tickets, which is really expensive. The train is full of snobby tourists and punk kids on vacation with their rich parents, so be prepared. The views from the train up through the Animas river canyon are quite nice and dramatic. We averaged about 1.1 mph (from my GPS), but we were going pretty slow. I would give this trip 5-6 days, although the guide says 3-4. There were wild strawberries and raspberries below 12,000 feet in the wetter areas by the Elk Creek, but they weren't ripe when we passed through. End of July would be better for picking berries. We saw a large porcupine who invaded our campsite, and another group we met came upon a large cougar. Careful - there are critters all along this route.