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4 Aug 2020
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SummerHiking

There’s something about cerulean blue water with mountains in the backdrop that eases the soul - and makes for stunning photographs. While these hikes all take some work to get to, the lakes at the end make it all worth it.

The San Juans have some of the best high alpine lakes in the state - here are our top five blue lakes in the Telluride area.

BLUE LAKEBlue Lake Telluride

This trailhead starts at the end of town at Bridal Veil Falls, but hikers can also start at the bottom of the falls (it adds on several miles to the trek). Hikers should park at the top of the falls (it fills up quickly, so start early) before embarking on this 5.7-mile hike. Most of this hike is not covered, so be prepared with a hat and sunscreen.

Most of this hike is through fields of wildflowers and there are waterfalls and a peaceful creek along the way. Be sure to follow the trails left when they split - otherwise, you’ll end up on some other amazing San Juan trails. For an added adventure, follow the trail right and you’ll find yourself up at Lewis Mine!

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  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,843 feet
  • Time: 4-5 hours

HOPE LAKE

Hope Lake Telluride
Located just outside of Telluride near Trout Lake, this is a favorite 5.3-mile half-day hike for many locals. The hike starts out with a river crossing, wildflower fields and avalanche debris fields before ascending up a series of switchbacks. Once you clear the woods, you’ll be above the treeline and the trail is relatively flat to the lake. Sunny days are best for this lake - the color of the lake is much brighter when the sun is shining.

Parking is very limited at this trailhead and storms tend to roll in during the early afternoon. Be prepared and start your hike early if this is on your list.

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  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,312 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours

BLUE LAKES

Blue Lakes Hike

Located between Telluride and Ridgway off of County Road 7, these three blue lakes are unlike any in the area. The first two miles of the trail are steep and strenuous before flattening out in the woods.

Hikers can stop at the first lake, or they can continue up to the second and third lakes. The best views of this lake are from the second lake overlooking the first lake. The climb to the second lake is rather strenuous and steep, while it flattens out en route to the third lake. Any extra adventurous hikers can continue to Blue Lakes Pass or even Mt. Sneffels, a 14er.

Be sure to start this trail early - parking is minimal and storms are common in the afternoon. Camping is also common at the first lake, but fills up quickly on weekends. Be sure to pack out everything you bring with you!

Click here for more info.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation Gain: 2,519 feet
  • Time: 4-6+ hours

ICE AND ISLAND LAKE

Ice and Island Lake
The Ice and Island Lake hike is one of the most popular in the region - and for good reason! These high alpine lakes have stunning blue color that you won’t find anywhere else - plus, you can enjoy two amazing lakes in one hike!

This 8.2-mile trail starts near Silverton and traverses through the woods, fields of wildflowers and across several water crossings. The first few miles and the last mile are the toughest; there is a nice hike through the valley between the steep sections.

Above Ice Lake, there are several, less-impressive lakes, but Island Lake is definitely worth a stop! It’s just a bit further up the trail to the North and has stunning views of this truly unique lake. Be sure to climb up the hill above Island Lake - the coloring of the lake looks much different from up there! This hike can also be made into a loop down from Island Lake. Be sure to start this trail early - parking is minimal and storms are common in the afternoon.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation Gain: 3,113 feet
  • Time: 5-6 hours

COLUMBINE LAKEColumbine Lake Hike

This is the most pristine blue lake you will find in the San Juans. This hike may be one of the most difficult in the area, but the lake at the end is worth it!

The 8.3-mile trail begins near Silverton and traverses up a series of switchbacks for the first few miles that are steep and difficult. Once you reach the saddle, things get easier. Meander through fields of wildflowers before reaching this stunning lake!

This lake is also accessible from Telluride, but is a much more strenuous and difficult hike.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation Gain: 2,933 feet
  • Time: 5-6 hours