Explore the most popular birding trails in San Juan National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
19 hours ago

Beautiful hike with plenty of switchbacks to help alleviate the elevation increase of 2430 feet. Filled with waterfalls year round. But LOTS of water flowing this time of year. If you go anytime soon I suggest gloves for the very last half mile of this hike as you will be thigh deep in snow when you fall in crossing it. I’m 5’4 and almost disappeared a few times. There is no way to avoid the snow nearing the top of the trail but push through it, it’s worth it. Other than that short sleeve and shorts were fine temperature wise. Lake was frozen over on arrival, but snow covered mountains made for a nice view. Saw many Marmots, 2 elk, a porcupine, and a LARGE Black Bear. Will be back to see the lake unthawed later in the year.

Good trail, beautiful views!

hiking
1 day ago

My all time favorite hike

Awesome trail!! We were unable to get to the upper lakes because of deep snow and the lower lake still had a small amount of ice on it. The waterfalls throughout the hike are amazing. We ate lunch near a huge waterfall right beside the split to go to the upper lakes. A hard hike but definitely worth it. It look my husband and I 3hrs to make it to the lower lake (we stopped frequently for lots of photo opportunities) and 1.5hrs back down.

hiking
2 days ago

Beautiful and easy! We just hiked to the bridge (1.7 miles) had lunch and came back.

hiking
5 days ago

I was very excited about this trail, especially after all the fantastic reviews. The campground is perfect. We had a spot all to ourselves right next to the river after the bridge. A wonderful way to spend the evenings.

We got up early to start the hike and had no trouble finding it and heading in. That said, once we really got into it, it was fairly treacherous with all the fallen trees. Almost every step for about 3/4 of the hike was climbing over and under the fallen trees. I imagine later in the summer, once they've cleared it, it would be an amazing hike. But in May, no bueno.

It appeared that people had gone through and broken limbs off trees to make it 'easier' however, because they left loads of nubs, it made it harder to avoid the inevitable scrapes and scratches.

I finally found the hot springs, and while a beautiful spot, definitely not that hot. And in my opinion, not worth all the very hard work to get there.

All this said, I LOVED THE CAMPGROUND and could easily wile away the hours near that river. On a side note, we didn't see any wild life, which was kind of strange.

Beautiful views and the sounds of the river and my knees only barked a little- LOVED!

We hiked this trail two days ago and it was still in the same condition as about a month ago. There are A LOT of downed trees so if you are going to try to make it start early in the day. We added about an hour each way compared to our usual pace. We had our large dog with us and she was able to make it. There is a lot of over and under trees however so just know that ahead or time. Also pay attention to the trail directions. The turns are hard to see with all the downed trees! Pay attention. That being said, we found the hot springs and had it all to ourselves. The risk was worth the reward!

hiking
10 days ago

Still has some deep snowbanks that make navigating the trail difficult but should melt in a few weeks. Getting to the trailhead requires 4 Wheel Drive but the road is mostly dry. Overall a lovely hike!

on Opal Lake Trail

hiking
10 days ago

This is a beautiful trail. When there is average snowfall the road will not open until the first week of June, however it is already open for 2018. Parts of the trail are a bit steep, overall it is not too difficult. The trail is 1/2 mile to the lake. You are at about 9,500 feet in elevation.

hiking
11 days ago

Great easy trail, the first portion is kind of steep but opens into a patch of aspen trees. Very easy and the lake is beautiful. Bring big spray, lots of mosquitos near the lake.

Beautiful trail. Easy hike and easy to follow
Canyon, meadows and you are either by the river
and can easily access it or you hear the river
I did 6 miles out and back and the trail was dry as a bone

The trail is in great condition as of May 2018. A lot of mountain bikers on the trail (and a few dirt bikers), but beautiful and pretty quiet aside from that. The trail has some steady climbs and would definitely be safe to run, as the path is clear and pretty rock-free the whole way. Beautiful views, too!

Poorly maintained access road meant the total trail distance was 11.5 miles. Very lightly trafficked trail with wonderful views at the top. Definitely recommend this trail.

hiking
14 days ago

Loved this trail! Perfect if you’re looking for a simple day-hike. Only negative is the trail isn’t marked very well, in my opinion. We will definitely be back.

hiking
15 days ago

Hiked this trail on 5/9, absolutely amazing hike! The hike there is beautiful and then of course the lake itself is almost surreal.

Great trail! We didn't make it to the lakes. There was still snow on the trail.

hiking
16 days ago

The trail runs along the road through a meadow for about the first two miles, so you can easily lop 4 miles off the total distance just by driving further down the road before you start. There are lots of trails through the meadow.

You cross private property for 2/3 mile, but it's well-marked and trail users have permission as long as they stay on the trail. A bigger issue is the emergency access gate into the Bible camp; the camp belongs to First Baptist Church, so you might want to call ahead and get permission before venturing onto their property. Sometimes they have campers or vacation Bible school up there in the summer.

I had a hard time finding the back end of the loop at the camp; it's not where the GPS map says it is; just follow the road up the ridge when it forks.

hiking
17 days ago

Hiked in only 2 miles, up to where you get to the fork in the trail for the beginning of the loop. It took me 1 hr 45min to get to that point. It’s a steady ascent with several places of rocky, uneven terrain. Easy to roll an ankle if you’re not careful. Keep your eye out for the view because you might miss it if you don’t!

Beautiful views, especially from the summit. A few felled trees across the trail, being removed. A couple remaining ice troughs, largely melted. Only a few scattered wild flowers, likely related to drought. Great hike.

Not marked well

The trail looked as if no one had been on it yet this year. It’s a more difficult hike with lots of snow, fallen trees on the path, and streams to cross. I would recommend waiting until late summer to do this hike. We barely made it 2 miles when the trail was completely lost. Lots of fresh bear tracks as well.

No longer a loop unless you’re ok with trespassing. Trails lead right into peoples houses and driveways too. So many better and secluded trails on public land out there

hiking
27 days ago

We decided to see how far we could get on this trail in April knowing that we would probably hit snow at some point. There was less snow this year than usual in Colorado (2018) but we were not able to get to the top in regular hiking shoes (snowshoes definitely would help). We kept falling through the top layer of snow/ice up to our knees/thighs which made trudging on very difficult. We got about 1.5 miles in / 1300 ft up before turning around. The trail was lost to the snow eventually too (used phone GPS and looked for cut logs where the trail would be cleared). It was still very pretty and worthwhile but we'll have to return once the snow is gone. The temperature at the end of April was quite pleasant: just had a hat, some long-sleeve layers on top, and shorts (even in the snow it wasn't that cold).

Trail starts in the corrals! Really pretty incline hike with a nice view at the top. I'll be heading back when the aspens have some leaves.

Very beautiful hike! Intense at times walking in ice and snow at mid day, but well worth it to see the view at the top from the waterfall as well as the lower basin! Was not able to make it to the main ice lake basin due to snow and lack of snow shoes, but we went a little early in the season! We will be coming back in July to see the lakes thawed!

Absolutely stunning and completely empty this time of year (April) . There were a lot of trees down but only one was hard to navigate around. Definitely a favorite!

Hiked this trail this last September. Drove all the way to Mayflower Mine where the trail takes off up the valley. The last quarter mile of the road was difficult (had a Jeep). Would not recommend this for inexperienced drivers.
Loved this hike! I’m 71 years old and found most of the hike quite easy. The most difficult part for me was making my way up the very steep part that gets you in the upper basin. Fixed steel cable and climbing rope makes it much easier, but it made me question if doing this hike alone was wise.
The lake is beautiful and the ruins are fun to explore.

You must take the 637 route not the 633 or you end up at a private locked gate that denied access to the falls. So take care to locate the right route.

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