off road driving
We hiked this path, which is pretty much an old mining road, up to Blue Lake in Sept. of 2015. It is an easy hike, but due to the elevation, I guess moderate for some hikers. You park at the top of Bridal Veil Falls and begin walking the road past the falls and up towards Bridal Veil Basin. It's about 3 miles one way. There is some interesting old mine equipment all around the lake area. The lake itself is really nice with a view south of the Needles. Columbine Lake is right over the ridge from Blue Lake to the south. You can take the road all the way to Lewis Lake if you wanted to. That would add just over 5 miles total and you would be in Bridal Veil Basin at that point. We opted to go only as far as Blue Lake on this beautiful sunny fall day. The road follows Bridal Veil creek the whole way, so you are in a canyon on this hike. There are still great views despite that. Easy day hike though and highly recommended!
We hiked to Ajax in Sept. of 2015. I rate it moderate but some folks might think it should be difficult. The switchbacks are such that it takes a lot of the sting out of the climb. I have hiked steeper switches than this, but these are long and quite easy to do. I suppose one could hike earlier or later in the season than posted as well, but the threat of avalanche in the winter months is very real. The hike has some of the best views around Telluride. Pretty much all above tree line as lots of Colorado hikes are. We parked at the car park where you can go no further up the Black bear pass road. It becomes one way at the cutoff to the top of Bridal Veil Falls, with downhill traffic only coming from Red Mountain Pass. So you hike the road up from there, till you get to the cutoff for the trail which is fairly obvious with an old mine tailing that sits right above it. Now the switchbacks start in earnest as you will climb about 1,330' to the ridge above, after about 11 switchbacks in only 1.6 miles. Then it's actually an easy down and back up to get to the peak. 360 degree endless views on top. Look down on Telluride, over to Imogene Pass, Black Bear Pass, The Wilsons, Sneffels, you name it. If you haven't done it, you need to :)
I hiked to Columbine Lake by going over Oscars pass from the Ophir side. Super steep up to Oscars Pass, then down the other side into Bridal Veil basin. You leave the old road/trail shortly after going over the pass, and follow a use trail down to the basin and make a cross country trek towards Lewis Lake. Once around the lake, there is another faint trail that ascends to Columbine Pass. From the pass, Columbine Lakes incredible blue color can be seen. A short hike cross country from this pass brings you down to the lake. On the way back, I chose the opposite side of Lewis Lake just to mix it up. The views are stunning on this route. It took me just over 2 hours from my truck to the top of Oscars Pass. My Garmin read 2.45 miles, and 2,740' of gain. Then about another half hour to get to Lewis Lake and just about 4 miles. Then another 10-15 minutes and I was on top of Columbine Pass. 4.6 miles total to here. It was right about 5 hours to Columbine Lake from my truck, but I was in no hurry either. 5.4 miles per my Garmin. A good mix of steep and then mellow hiking.
Tried for the summit with my son in Oct. of 2013. We were turned around at just over 13,000' due to the horrific wind that day. Can't imagine what it would have been like on top. Too many nice days to hike, to be out in that kind of wind. I'll be back. Easy trail and great views above tree line!! The road in is god awful though. 4x4 for sure, and very narrow if you meet another vehicle. Luckily we didn't.
Incredible hike. Not just for the fantastic payoff at the end (we stuck to the lower lake for our destination because the clouds were rolling in), but it seems like every 15 minutes we'd come across a new meadow, mountain view, or waterfall. It's got a good mix of shade and sun. The first third was really tough for us; you are climbing at about a 10% grade for what feels like forever. We camped near the trailhead and started the hike around 9:30am and it took us a few hours with plenty of rest stops along the way, with maybe an hour to get back (we started jogging once the rain looked imminent because we forgot to put the fly on our tent when we set out. Good thing because it started hailing within minutes of getting the fly on).
Good hike. Great views after mile 3 In the talus field. Then great views of Wilson Peak and Sunshine Mountain. Pay attention to the map because it's easy to get sidetracked if you follow the bike tracks. (I ended up over a mile SW because I didn't prepare)