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Clear Lake

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

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Clear Lake

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  • Beginning of Clear Lake Road (San Juan County Road 12) from Forest Road 585.- Clear Lake
  • Beginning of Clear Lake Road (San Juan County Road 12) from Forest Road 585.- Clear Lake
  • The road crosses an aspen grove in the first half mile.- Clear Lake
  • View of the San Juan Mountains and aspen trees from Clear Lake Road.- Clear Lake
  • The road ascends through the forest with peaks in the Ice Lake Basin in the background.- Clear Lake
  • South Fork Mineral Creek on the left; Ice Lake is between and below the peaks on the right.- Clear Lake
  • Steep road just above the tree line.- Clear Lake
  • Clear Creek forms waterfalls as it descends on the almost vertical rock.- Clear Lake
  • Hikers going up to Clear Lake.- Clear Lake
  • The last steep and rocky stretch before the lake.- Clear Lake
  • Bird's-eye view of Clear Lake.- Clear Lake
  • Aerial view of Clear Lake.- Clear Lake
  • Road on the left, Cleak Lake on the right, and old mine tailings in the middle.- Clear Lake
  • Clear Lake is clear indeed.- Clear Lake
  • Fishermen on the lake shore.- Clear Lake
  • - Clear Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful lakes and waterfalls. Few people on weekdays. Beautiful fall colors.
Cons: 
Long drive from Denver.
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Region:
San Juan Mountains, CO
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

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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.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(9 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(31 within a 30 mile radius)

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