dogs on leash
off road driving
Another one of the most scenic drives this country has to offer. The Durango to Ouray stretch being the best of it all. Highway 550 between these two towns puts you right in the heart of the San Juan's. The views are something that have to be seen, not described. I have driven this highway many times over the years. It never gets old. The other segment worth noting is from Telluride up and over Lizard Head Pass. Once you drop down the pass you follow the Dolores river back to Cortez. Mind you, the whole loop is as scenic as it gets if you like mountain scenery. For anyone living in the southwest, if you haven't been here, you need to make a point of it. They don't refer to it as the million dollar highway for nothing!!
I would have given it a 5 star if I would have made it to the lake. The trail, although fairly well marked, got confusing and instead of heading to the lake I made my way back into some pretty thick brush and mud. Took about 30 minutes longer and had to run down because of the storm coming. I will definitely do this earlier in the day and now know the location of the lake. The waterfalls are absolutely stunning on this hike and made it worth it for me...my dog loved the river too, there were several places she could hop in along the way. I would definitely call this an easy to moderate trail, a little muddy on the creek bed so your feet will get wet in the wrong shoes.
This is an awesome hike for sure. Did this one in Sept. of 2011. I started my hike from the first switchback along the Clear Lake road though. There's space for like 3-4 cars. Cut off some mileage and some elevation. The trail is steep for sure on the lower first part. Ice Lake has that incredible blue color like Columbine Lake. Beautiful. I bushwhacked up to a saddle NW of the lake with a view down Waterfall Canyon on the Ophir side. Incredible views all around. Then skirted across a scree field and down a ridge to Island Lake. Tried to summit V2 from the saddle north of Island Lake, but time was running out. I came back down to Island Lake on the faint trail that is there, and it is super steep. Kept slipping. When I got back to Island lake I followed the trail that goes from this lake to Ice lake and then back to my truck on the same trail I came up. Would do this hike again!!
I did this loop in Sept. of 2011. Great hike and had a gorgeous day to do it. Especially seeing as it had rained the entire day before and I was stuck in my truck for the most part. I car camped the night before in upper Cunningham Gulch, and it allowed me an early start the next day. It was 38 degrees when I left the parking area and I was at the first lake in an hour and twenty minutes. Another ten minutes or so and I was at the biggest lake. Elevation here is right around 12,200'. Great views of course, but the forest ranger down in Silverton told me to climb the small knoll just south of the big lake. So I did just that and what a view from there. Sat there for quite a while taking it in. The Grenadiers are right there in front of you, and you could see further south to the Needle Mountains too. Awesome spot. Then I followed the not so well beaten path from the bottom of the knoll towards Verde Lake, and then east to where it connects to the CDT. I will say one thing about trails in Colorado, they are not very well signed. Some places have good signage , others nothing at all and you're on your own. Once on the CDT the trail starts to drop pretty quickly on its way back to the parking area in Cunningham Gulch. There were sheep everywhere in this area that day, and of course the guard dogs were out in force too. Luckily didn't have any encounters with them. I did have one chase me as I was driving out of the gulch though. They do their job for sure!! This was a great loop and I would do it again for sure.
I have hiked to this lake twice. Once along this trail, and once from the Ophir side. The color of the water in this lake is like nothing I've seen anywhere. It changes as the day goes on. Afternoon seemed to show it's color the best. Great views in all directions. This lake stands out on Google Earth with it's blue color, and it is exactly that color when you get there. That's what prompted this hike for me, had to see it.
Moderately difficult. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been, secluded camp sites located near white water streams and three mountains to climb. You are taken to the trailhead via a coal train (tickets are around $100 a pop round trip) and climb around 12 miles uphill to the campsite. I would recommend this trail to any avid backpack enthusiast
We love this hike! It's strenuous but has a very high return on investment with incredible views. If you are able to scrabble on shale and climb over a 4-5 ft ledge in the chimney to get to the very top, it's totally worth it. Its truly the feeling of standing on top of the world. Oh, and for only-average experienced hikers like us, there was this great gasp-and-moment-of-fear scrabbling over the chimney as we looked at the shale coved ledge we could slide off. It turned out to be a huge confidence builder as we realized after, it was no big deal.
Took Ophir Pass in August of 2011, the quickest way from Ouray to Telluride and back (I think). Beautiful weather at the time and the pass is a pretty easy ride. The ride was good and the scenery was amazing. Not much traffic, the shelf road was the most exciting part of the pass. I would recommend it to anyone in the area.
Very poorly marked trail. The only way that you know what trail you are on is at the trailhead and then it quickly starts forking. We mostly wandered and guessed which way to go ( sort of like a "choose your own adventure story). It was generally a pretty easy walk, minus the brief steep climbs and drops, but we did find the falls and creek. Traffic was not too bad.