There is nothing like a hike in the rugged beauty of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Hiking Blue Lakes Trail was above and beyond our expectations. Looking for a trail that won’t disappoint? This is it!
Having hiked mostly moderate trails previously, I was hesitant when seeing it was rated “strenuous”. It proved a bit challenging, especially past the first lake, but I found it exhilarating instead of hard.
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It’s Labor Day Weekend. We arrived at 7 am and surprisingly the parking lot was almost full! Blue skies and warm weather greeted us. Love September in Colorado.
Passing through the gate and veering right we were quickly ascending on a moderate trail with Dallas Creek tumbling down on our left. Up and up around switchbacks lined with abundant lush greens among late summer berry bushes and birdsong.
Occasional meadows along the trail provided tantalizing views of the rugged Peaks. It wasn’t long after passing a pretty sensational waterfall on our left, we reached Blue Lake. We’ve now hiked about 3.2 miles.
Blue Lake is like walking into a postcard. Shocking aqua blue just like in photos I had viewed online, with fields of wildflowers everywhere, even in September!
My favorite hike to date! Breathtaking here … until we went higher. I thought I was looking at paradise, but it only gets better. Watching other hikers high above us on the ridge we had to keep going.
HIKING TO THE NEXT LAKE!
Just before you reach Blue Lake, a trail to your left will take you to the next lake, which is a bit confusing to find. Lots of social trails left by previous campers had us searching but not for long.
After crossing the creek we were quickly climbing up a steep rocky incline that I found intense and strenuous but so worth it!
The views were astonishing and not like any I’ve ever seen before. We stopped often to look down upon Blue Lake and just could not get over the color of the water!
A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. Check out “Hiking Essentials” for practical gear that we love at Crazy About Colorado and have in our backpacks on every hike.
Just before approaching the second lake, I felt like I was in Colorado heaven among the rugged peaks of Mt. Sneffels, Dallas Peak and I think Gilpin Peak. I’m not sure which was which but it was glorious.
Upon reaching the next lake it was time for a break and to take in the see forever views.
BLUE LAKE PASS
The colors of golds, greens, and rust covering the glacial basin intermingled with wildflowers, keep us here mesmerized for a very long time. The trail goes another 1 ¼ mile further passing the upper lake and onto the top of Blue Lakes Pass. (photo above).
HYDRATION is ESSENTIAL IN COLORADO! A few I’ve used and highly recommend. NUUN Sport Hydration Tablets, Jelly Belly Sport Beans, NUUN Sport + Caffeine Hydration Tablets, Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix
Heading back down was slow going but only because I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
Blue Lakes trail is known for bear and mountain lion sitings, so please keep mindful of your surroundings. CLICK HERE> for more information on Colorado Wildlife encounters
This is easily a day hike, but backpacking here is popular too. Check out Mt.Sneffels Wilderness as restrictions apply. Come early to beat the crowds and to beat afternoon thunderstorms in summer, or snow, depending on mother nature.
From the town of Ridgway, CO head west on Hwy 62 for 4.8 miles and take a left on CR-7/ FR851. (marked Dallas Creek Road). Follow CR-7 for 2 miles to the intersection with CR-7A. Stay to the right on CR-7. Total 9 miles to the trailhead from Hwy 62. (Note: rough road but doable for a 2WD in summer).
LOCAL TIP: If not camping and desire less expensive lodging, try Montrose, CO, just 35 miles from Ridgway.
Trail # 201
6.3 miles (first lake) – 11 miles out and back
Start elevation: At trailhead, 9350 ft.
Elevation: Upper Lake, 11,720 ft.
Elevation: Blue Lakes Pass: roughly 13,000 ft.
Mt. Sneffels Wilderness
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