Blue Lakes Trail

Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado

Elevation Gain5,304ft
Trailhead Elevation12,630ft
Elevation Min/Max9367/13016ft
Elevation Start/End12630/12639ft

Blue Lakes Trail

Blue Lakes Trail is a hiking and horse trail in Ouray County, Colorado. It is within Uncompahgre National Forest and Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area. It is 6.3 miles long and begins at 12,630 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 12.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,304 feet. Along the trail there are a viewpoint and a camp site. This trail connects with the following: Dallas Trail, Mount Sneffels Trail and Wrights Lake Spur.

Blue Lakes Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"Traveling west of Ridgway on Highway 62 one cannot help but be impressed by the long, rugged line of mountain peaks that lie directly south of the road. Nearly all of the summits rise above the 13,000-foot level, but there is one peak in particular that dominates the scene: Mount Sneffels. At 14,150 feet above sea level, Sneffels stands over 300 feet higher than its nearest neighbor; it is the only fourteener in the area. In 1980 the land between Mount Sneffels and North Pole Peak, 7.5 miles to the west, was designated as the Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area, and today few outdoorsmen can gaze at the dramatic mountain scenery without feeling the urge to explore. There are only a few trails leading into the wilderness area, but in my opinion the Blue Lakes Trail ranks among the best."
Hiking Colorado's Western Slope (Falcon Guides)
Bill Haggerty
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"Daydreaming of Western Colorado? You’re probably picturing the San Juan Mountains and majestic Mt. Sneffels. If Sneffels is the quintessential mountain in the San Juan range, this is its quintessential trail. Strenuous but spectacular, steep yet stunning, the trail to Blue Lakes takes you above timberline to within 2,400 feet of the top of 14,150-foot Mt. Sneels. These three alpine lakes are full of crimson-colored Colorado River cutthroat trout, and they’re surrounded by Mt. Sneels, 13,308-foot Dallas Peak to the north, 13,694-foot Gilpin Peak to the south, and an unnamed 13,242-foot high extension of Mears Peak to the west."
100 Classic Hikes in Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Scott S. Warren
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"Set in a scenic glacial basin, the Blue Lakes provide a nice destination within the 16,505-acre Mount Sneffels Wilderness. In addition to the access this hike provides to higher terrain above, the fishing at all three lakes can be superb."

Blue Lakes Trail Trip Reports

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This trail is located in the San Juan Mountains, absolutely my favorite part of Colorado. I use one word to describe the San Juan's, rugged. This trail fits the rest of the San Juan's, rugged.

Went on a 3 day backpacking trip with my daughter. This is a difficult trail. Very steep, seemed like 100% up hill on the way to the lakes.

We camped by the middle lake. The next day, my daughter climbed Mt. Snuffles, one of Colorado 14ers, while I fished. She enjoyed her hike. Fishing was fabulous. Fish were hungry, hitting almost every dry fly that I tried.

Absolutely beautiful, worth every single step up the mountain.
Steep hike with an amazing view as come to lower blue lake.
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Steep hike on way up but well worth it for the lakes.
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Stunning backdrop, even though we didn't make the lakes! The first part is a moderate climb through forest, with a creek often visible. We ran into knee-deep snow some 1/4 to 1/2 mile past the creek crossing (just after passing Avalanche Meadow?). One could probably get through it, but it looked like more of the same ahead, so we turned around. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the hike. Hope to try again some year.
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Fairly tough hike. I suggest packing light. We were staying overnight and were a bit overweighed. But if you like a good workout, this is a great hike. Fairly steep, being that it's about a mile up (close enough, lol), in only 3 miles out. But arriving at the lakes makes all the pain go away. Their color was one I've never seen. The blues only rival the waters of the Caribbean... but with that slightly milky consistency. SO beautiful! Waking up next to one of these lakes as the bright Sun exposes ALL of the wonderful colors was just incredible! A sunny breakfast in such a serene location, and with the chirping marmots... that is now my mental "happy place". :)

Trail Information

Uncompahgre National Forest
Nearby City
Mount Sneffels Wilderness Area
Ouray District Office, 2505 S. Townsend, Montrose, CO 81401, (970) 240-5300,
Local Contacts
USFS Uncompahgre National Forest Map; #146 Uncompahgre Plateau South
Local Maps

Trail Log