Explore the most popular forest 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.

backpacking
1 day ago

Drove from Southern AZ to hike this trail with my one of my favorite hiking buddies. So very worth it! This is a beautiful trail that hugs rivers and creeks, starts in an aspen forest and ends at the Animas River and a ponderosa forest. Thousands of wild strawberries are in bloom for miles along the trail. the weather is predictably unpredictable this time of year, but as the Scandinavians say, "There is no bad weather, only bad preparation. " We backpacked through this trail and as the main review says, you can make this trail as long as you want because of all the side-trails. We headed up towards Chicago Basin and were not disappointed. definitely plan on rain and emergency shelter for day hikes. The thunderstorms, hail and sleet were interrupted by sunshine and 80 degree heat. Even with all the different weather patterns, it was one of the best backpacking trips of my life. People like to head out to the big name parks- Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Havasupai, Yellowstone, Zion...and they are wonderful places, but they're crowded and not anymore beautiful then this little trek.

Had such an amazing trip, I'm thinking about returning in a couple of weeks! Don't forget to soak in Trimble Hot Springs after your hike!

hiking
3 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.

hiking
7 days ago

Beautiful hike. Steady slight incline until the last km. Lots of streams to get water en route if needed. Only saw one other hiker on a gorgeous day, so I wouldn't call this one heavily trafficked.

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!

First hike in a long time went 18 mins up and back!
Hopefully a lot more posts to come

on Opal Lake Trail

hiking
8 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
9 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.

Went up the trail 5/14/2018 during a perfect sunny warm day. The spring of 2018 was extremely dry so the climb up was overall pretty easy and dry. Came across a few down trees during the climb but our Land Rover Discovery fit under them with a few inches to spare. I assume the trail isn’t cleared very often. As we approached the summit we came across some drifted snow which blocked the trail as well as a fair amount of 1-3’ rocks that had fallen on the trail so we hike the last section up to the falls. Beautiful scenery and long range views. Great trail but as you reach the summit the trail narrows however there a several places to pull off on the way up. Passed only one other truck on the climb. Had a great time, great trail.

The trail was very icy and muddy, leaving areas of unmarked trail. Couldn’t summit as the snow was knee deep at about the 2.5 mile. Also, wind was very strong today.

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
13 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

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.

hiking
24 days ago

as good a hike as I've ever done. got lost for awhile and didn't care

hiking
25 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.

hiking
1 month ago

One word: SPECTACULAR!!!

Lots of variation in scenery on this hike and all beautiful, can’t wait to see it when the aspens have bloomed. The view from missionary ridge is one of my favorites

I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!! Great trail difficult with snow and ice in areas but still amazing! We took one trail up and a different one back crossing the creek on top of logs and rocks. It was so quiet and peaceful only seen one other biker. When we reached the falls with it was an amazing site the combination of snow, ice, and rushing water was worth every step. This was my first Colorado hike but won’t be my last. Thank you Colorado

hiking
1 month ago

This trail is NOT open yet. We had to park outside the first gate, which adds 2.5 miles onto your hike each way (bathrooms are still locked at the campground and everything is closed). The trail itself needs some hardcore maintanence to be done which hasn't happened this season yet. We ended up having to go over about 50 to 75 trees, some of which were in rather dangerous locations. Dogs should def not attempt this trail right now. It took us about 4.5 hours to do 11 miles. We ended up not finding the hot springs before it got to dark so we turned around at the river (about 1 mile from the campsite and trail to hot springs). Overall, I would not say this trail is not by any means 'Open' in April, as the trail had stated at this time of attempt.

UPDATE: The description has been updated to accurately reflect a better time of opening.

230 miles of Pure beauty. Start early, as you will want to stop for many pictures and a lunch, weather a picnic or stopping at an eatery. I highly recommend Baked in Telluride. All homemade and very reasonably priced.

An excellent hike and or an overnight x2

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