The road to Clear Lake offers wonderful views of the South Mineral Campground, South Fork Mineral Creek, and the San Juan Mountains. Some people make the 9-mile round-trip hike with 2,600 feet of elevation gain, others drive as far as their vehicle will allow and hike from there, and some make the drive all the way up. It is not really a technical drive, but it is not for the faint of heart, and it does require a high-clearance vehicle, preferably with four-wheel drive.
Clear Lake Road (San Juan County Road 12) starts off of NF-585 just over a half mile east of the South Mineral Campground. If you are hiking you can use the parking lot across the road from the campground. The first half mile crosses an aspen grove, which is especially beautiful in late September to early October. Over the next 2 miles the road zigzags through spruce and fir forest right up to the tree line. Along the way there are some signs of old mining activity, which is why the road is there to begin with.
Above the tree line the ascent to the lake is rocky and steep. Make sure to stop to view the waterfall that Clear Creek forms as it drops over the almost vertical rocks. The tight basin opens up to reveal a beautifully green alpine lake. There is good trout fishing at the lake, and there are also trails to access Island Lake and Ice Lake, among others.