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    Paul Wesselmann completed Columbine Lake Trail

    4 months ago

    Paul Wesselmann reviewed Columbine Lake Trail

    4 months ago

    Several locals recommended this hike because of the combination of beauty and seclusion. I loved Blue Lakes over near Ridgway, but was ready for a more quiet experience; it turns out this has become much more popular over the past few years, and I encountered almost 30 people on my way down, including several mountain bikers who apparently use the lower part of the trail as a return from Ophir Pass. (I did the hike on a Sunday, though, so a weekday would likely be lighter).

    The good news is the much of the snow mentioned in the reviews from early July has melted; on July 23rd I had to cross 5-6 snow fields that were all easily handled with hiking boots and a walking stick. Only the first major one was worth hiking around.

    Paul Wesselmann reviewed Blue Lakes Trail

    4 months ago

    This was a moderately strenuous hike with a really good payoff if your destination is the lower lake (just over 3 miles), and an exceptional payoff if you're willing to endure a rather steep mile and a half after crossing a substantial creek (deeper and wider than the creek you'll encounter on your way up to the lower lake). This has become really popular, I suspect in part because the trailhead is fairly easy to access even for 2WD vehicles (the 9 mile drive in from Hwy 62 has amazing and unique views almost the entire time), and also because word has spread that the destination is remarkable. I arrived at 6am and unfortunately embarked just ahead of two really chatty hikers. After letting them pass and get ahead of me, I did not encounter anyone else until I arrived at the lower lake around 7:30am. There were several groups camping, so I went ahead and crossed the creek and headed up to the upper lakes, arriving at the second lake around 8:15, and was above the upper lake by 8:30. I found a spot off the trail and spent two hours admiring the splendor without encountering another person (hikers familiar with Kelvin Kent's "Ouray Hiking Guide" are encouraged to follow his suggestion for a secluded spot with a bonus view). I began the return hike around 10:30, encountering three groups before I crossed back over the creek just before the lower lake, and no less than two dozen groups on my way back down between the lower lake and the parking lot that was overflowing. Given this was a weekday with predicted rains, I can imagine it is chaotic on weekends. Crossing the first creek was definitely easier because I was wearing waterproof hiking boots, but people willing to take off their shoes and walk across the creek wouldn't really need boots if their destination is the lower lake e. I was *very* glad I had boots and a walking staff for the steep ascent to the upper lakes.

    Paul Wesselmann completed Blue Lakes Trail

    4 months ago

    Paul Wesselmann reviewed Horsethief Trail

    4 months ago

    Hiked up to Bridge of Heaven (4.2 miles from trailhead above Dexter Creek); A like the moderate climb through both aspen and pine; you hike through several open meadows which are fairly warm by mid-day; still, you pop back into shaded areas frequently so you can cool off again. There are several scenic panoramas along the way, and the 360 view from the top is dramatic even for this area. over the years, they have re-cut the trail to add some switchbacks. Resist the temptation to take the old "short cuts" and you'll be rewarded with some bonus views, a more gradual ascent, and a *much* easier descent (my knees and joints thanked me). One teensy pile of snow covered a switchback on July 17 (one step on snow and I was across it). The views are most dramatic at the top, but for much of the way down you'll still be gazing and gawking. This remains one of my favorite hikes in the area.

    Paul Wesselmann completed Horsethief Trail

    4 months ago

    Paul Wesselmann reviewed Chief Ouray Mine Trail

    4 months ago

    The 2,000 ft. elevation gain and numerous switchbacks makes this a more strenuous hike for occasional hikers, but has some great views of Ouray and the surrounding scenery (Shout out to Sneffels who looks grand from just about anywhere but real shines on this route!). I hiked up from downtown Ouray and left around 7am so my walk up would be in the shade and solitudinous. I achieved both, and didn't encounter other hikers until around 10:30 when I was half way back down. Some parts of the switchbacks may seem a little narrow for novice hikers, just make sure your shoes/boots have decent traction and you'll be in good shape.

    Paul Wesselmann added Ouray #1

    4 months ago

    Paul Wesselmann added Salida

    5 months ago