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Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake

Mount Sneffels Wilderness, Colorado

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

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Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake

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  • Lower Blue Lake is a wonderful turquoise color.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Heading toward the trailhead, the views are increasingly spectacular.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Red columbine (Aquilegia elegantula) along the trail.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Mount Sneffels looms up ahead.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Entering the wilderness area.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • As the trail climbs, the views become increasingly grand.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Expect some obstacles in June.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • In a wet year, the lake is surrounded by wildflowers.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Looking back and down toward the valley below.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Lower Blue Lake rests below Dallas Peak.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Lower Blue Lake.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Lower Blue Lake backed by the Dallas Divide.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • View from the climb up to Middle and Upper Blue Lakes.- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Mount Sneffels as seen from County Road 7. - Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • Mountain bluebells (Mertensia ciliata).- Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
  • - Blue Lakes Trail Hike to Lower Blue Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Spectacular scenery. Steady climb.
Cons: 
Trail is steep in spots. Creek crossings can be challenging early in the season.
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Region:
San Juan Mountains, CO
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,842.00 ft (561.44 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
7.60 mi (12.23 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,324.00 ft (2,841.96 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The Blue Lakes Trail is one of the premier hikes in the northern San Juans. This hike has everything! It is convenient to the town of Ridgway, the drive in is beautiful, the scenery is spectacular, and the trail is challenging yet not too difficult for hikers of moderate ability.

The trail starts climbing from Dallas Creek right away and continues with alternating stretches of fairly steep climbs and flat recovery sections.  There are a few areas of switchbacks, but for the most part the trail just follows the west side of the Dallas Creek drainage until it reaches the lake. In June and July the wildflowers put on an amazing display all along the trail. Just before Lower Blue Lake, the trail forks to the left up past Middle and Upper Blue Lakes and on to Blue Lake Pass, 2.2 miles (and 1,800 feet of elevation gain) beyond. The trail to the upper basin crosses the creek at one point, and early in the season this may prove impassable.

Lower Blue Lake is a lovely place to relax, and backcountry camping is allowed here. The backdrop of the Dallas Divide peaks and the steep cirque sloping down to the lake is spectacular. More wildflowers are likely to be seen in the basin all around the lake.

Note: it is also a great hike to reach these lakes coming from Yankee Boy Basin on the other side of Blue Lake Pass, but reaching the trailhead requires an 8-mile drive on a very challenging 4WD road--a great adventure in itself!

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(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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(28 within a 30 mile radius)

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