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 about 7am 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.

 

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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.

 

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Blue Lake was like walking into a postcard.

Aqua blue just like 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.

 

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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!

 

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The views were astonishing and not like any I’ve ever seen before.

We stopped often to look down upon Blue Lake and I still can’t get over the color of the water.

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. Please check out “What’s in Your Day Pack” for a list of recommended items anytime hiking.

 

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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.

 

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Upon reaching the next lake it was time for a break and take in the see forever views.

 

 

 

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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).

 


 

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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. I hang a Bear Bell on my backpack and if desired you can carry Bear Spray, (know how to use bear spray before going out). Make noise, chat, sing, drag your trekking poles, keep dogs and children close to you. Hang bear bells on your dogs. 

Colorado’s western slope has more than anyone realizes! 

Dominguez Escalante Wilderness: Solitary & Rugged Beauty in Colorado’s High Desert

Judd Falls is a Colorado Experience! Crested Butte, CO

Three Lakes Trail is a Colorado Treasure, Kebler Pass

Unforgettable Hiking Trails in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

 

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This is easily a day hike, but you can backpack in and camp. 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.

 

Located: 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. 

TIDBITS

Trail # 201

Rated: Strenuous

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.

Closest Towns: Ridgway, Ouray

Mt. Sneffels Wilderness

Uncompahgre National Forest

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you) and you get an awesome product, I appreciate the support.

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