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Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
?
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors and leave no trace. One tip how to dispose of waste properly: Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. For more information, visit https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Beautiful lakes and waterfalls. Few people on weekdays. Beautiful fall colors.

Cons

Long drive from Denver.

Pets allowed

Yes

Address

Forest Rd 815
Durango, CO 81301
United States

Features

Wildflowers
Big vistas
Waterfalls

Location

Field Guide

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