Highland Mary Trail

Weminuche Wilderness Area, Colorado

Elevation Gain1,868ft
Trailhead Elevation10,802ft
Elevation Min/Max10802/12137ft
Elevation Start/End10802/10802ft

Highland Mary Trail

Highland Mary Trail is a hiking trail in San Juan County, Colorado. It is within Weminuche Contiguous Wilderness Study Area and Weminuche Wilderness Area. It is 2.4 miles long and begins at 10,802 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,868 feet. Near the trailhead there is a parking.

Highland Mary Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"The Highland Mary Lakes are a group of seven above-timberline lakes on the northwestern side of the Weminuche Wilderness Area. This trail passes by the two largest Highland Mary Lakes as well as the nearby Verde Lakes. But the most interesting part of the hike is the second half of the trail. From the Verde Lakes the trail turns east and climbs to the top of the Continental Divide. It then follows the Continental Divide Trail for 1.0 mile before turning west again for the descent back to the trailhead. All but the first and last mile of the hike are above timberline. From the trailhead the trail begins climbing upward almost immediately along the left side of the creek. For the next 40 minutes you will rarely be out of sight or sound of Cunningham Creek as it tumbles and splashes down the steep grade through a series of delightful cascades."
Best Hikes with Kids Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Maureen Keilty
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"This alpine hike leads to several lakes that jewel a large and open tundra basin above timberline. The trail climbs steadily uphill, crossing and recrossing Cunningham Creek and several side streams; pack extra socks and a walking stick for the wet conditions. Include a camera and flower guide in your pack as well. Fishing is rated fair at the lakes for rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout. Nights here are remembered as stellar events. Wildflowers appear to compete for “best in show” along much of the trail, providing another breath-catching diversion for your group as they judge for “brightest pinks,” “tallest blues,” “most columbines,” or categories they choose. During these and other pauses in wet alpine terrain, remind hikers to stay on the trail or a rock when possible; the plants here face enough challenges already."
100 Classic Hikes in Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Scott S. Warren
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"Situated in a verdant alpine basin just west of the Continental Divide, the Highland Mary Lakes are a popular destination for day hikers and backpackers alike. Some come to try their luck at fishing, while others hike the steep trail simply to enjoy the surrounding scenery. Whatever your intent, these alpine lakes are worth the effort. Fishing is reported to be good to excellent in all three lakes, and vistas of the amazingly lush alpine tundra that covers the surrounding mountains are unforgettable. Domestic sheep can often be seen grazing across the slopes above the lake."
Hiking Colorado's Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness Areas - 3rd Edition (Falcon Guides)
Donna Ikenberry
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"Abundant wildflowers, wonderful views, and high alpine tundra are yours for the asking on this delightful loop in the northwest corner of the Weminuche. A very long day hike (it’ll seem even longer at high altitudes), it can also be hiked as an overnight backpack. Horses are not allowed on the Highland Mary Lakes Trail, but they can enjoy the Cunningham Gulch and Continental Divide Trails. From the lower trailhead, climb the very steep, rocky road (now a trail) to the south. After 0.25 mile the trail will merge onto CR 4 as it continues to the upper trailhead at 0.7 mile. Note: About 0.1 mile prior to the upper trailhead, notice the sign point- ing the way to the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).The trail going left (north) connects with the Cunningham Gulch Trail, the return trail. Continue right (south) to the trailhead for Highland Mary Lakes Trail 606."

Highland Mary Trail Trip Reports

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In the fall, if you can get on trail at daybreak, you can have the trail to yourself...for awhile. Way too cool but you heat up in a hurry because the hike is uphill all the way to the Lake, with several level respites. I hike to fly fish and it was well worth the effort. Didn't catch anything but thoroughly enjoyed the scenery of the lakes above the tree lines. There are several places along the trail where it's easy to lose the trail. However, because the trail goes up Cunningham Gulch you don't have to look/wander long to reacquire the trail. On the hike down I encountered a family of five with three kids I would say 4-7 years old with their parents, all wearing flip flops, (the KMart kind). I kinda felt good about my effort until that moment. Nevertheless, thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Highland Mary Trail Photos

Trail Information

Weminuche Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Weminuche Wilderness Area
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers, Waterfalls
San Juan National Forest, Columbine Ranger District, Bayfield; (970) 884-2512; www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan
Local Contacts
USGS Howardsville and Storm King Peak; Trails Illustrated Weminuche Wilderness; DeLorme 3D TopoQuad CD-ROM; Maptech Terrain Navigator CD-ROM
Local Maps

Trail Log