Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Uncompahgre 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.

Did this hike on December 16, 2017 during a month lacking normal snowfall. Although there wasn't much snow on the road leading up to Bridal Veil Falls, we weren't able to drive all the way up to Bridal Veil Faills. We had a 4WD vehicle but didn't want to attempt it with the icy sections (and we're glad we didn't). We hiked two miles up to Bridal Veil Falls and continued on to Blue Lake.

There were plenty of areas completely void of snow on the trail, but as we got higher, the icy sections increased. Microspikes were very helpful, but my husband did the entire hike without them. The trail was steep the entire way, but easy to navigate until about two miles in.

When the ground became covered in snow, we just continued to follow tracks that apparently follow Bridal Veil Creek up to Lewis Lake. We followed this incorrect trail until we reached a high point and thought we would run into the lake and there was nothing but an icy basin (not very scenic in the winter and we never reached Lewis Lake, which was even further past the steep section we hiked).

We turned around and eventually saw that we missed the sharp left turn on the trail because there were no other tracks on the trail. This turn off was probably somewhere around mile 2, but we have no idea for sure.

We continued on the correct trail up to Blue Lake and this last mile or so up to the lake was very steep and icy. The lake was gorgeous and icy, but after getting lost, we didn't have time to hang out before racing back down before sunset. I get the sense that this hike would be much prettier and scenic in the summer when the creek isn't icy and the trail isn't buried in patches of snow, but the winter hike was alright, too.

My husband and I tried this trail for the 1st time on 12/7/17. Mostly clear of snow and ice, the downhills weren’t all that bad but if it was wetter it could be bad in spots. We really enjoyed it and plan to do it with snowshoes or at least try it.

worth the hike! beautiful

8 months ago

fantastic place to get away from society. My dad and I spent a week here backpacking and the trails were great and there is plenty of spots to get water. Slide Lake isn't really a lake anymore but it's great hiking. And the fishing is good. caught some rainbows and brookies.

8 months ago

Beautiful lake with tons of wildflowers, marmots and old mining equipment. Definitely worth the hike up - I recommend driving to the base of bridal veil for the hike - otherwise it'd be a tad long.

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Not too long, good distance to elevation ratio. Some loose rock spots, but nothing too tough.

Gorgeous. Waterfalls and wildflowers everywhere on first half. Upper half has spectacular views. There is still a bit of snow across a few sections of trail (7/1/17), but nothing difficult. Note - there are no signs, so remember.... first trail split (about halfway up), stay left, second trail split (another 1/2 mile or so up trail), stay right.

Just did this trail on 6/24/17. Lots of water runoff from snowmelt crossing over the trail, so be sure to have waterproof footwear. Almost made it to Blue Lake but encountered lots of snow and had to turn around. One group made it to the summit but said the lake was still mostly frozen.

Lots of snow to trek across at higher elevations as of june 25. Difficult to follow trail, for some. Stick to the 'road' tracks.

Beautiful trail on a late spring day. We viewed waterfalls, numerous spring wildflowers, one twisted and one huge aspen. And we found a small number of morels.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We tried to access this hike in mid May and didn't make it all the way up to the trail head. The road just to get up there requires heavy duty 4 wheel drive and even then there's still way too much snow to be able to do the hike. It looks spectacular but we would've been better off going later in the summer.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

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!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

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.

off road driving
Monday, October 03, 2016

I drove up to Alta Lakes to set up camp July 4th weekend. It was rainy and therefore the drive up was muddy -- and pretty nerve-wracking. As soon as I got up there, I went over a big dip and honestly thought I might end up stuck up by the lakes...
It was also very cold -- much colder than down in Telluride (and this was only at 2pm). I ended up not camping here, however, it was a gorgeous place!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Trail was great but if you're staying at the big blue campground near the trailhead its even better. 2 roads in, take alpine road if you're feeling really crazy, 1 lane with tight switchbacks, a much shorter drive in, but not for those afraid of heights.

mountain biking
Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hike it; don't bike it. Hardest mountain bike ride I've ever been on. Spent 80% of the time pushing the bike. Trail conditions were extremely muddy and rooted.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

We hiked an out-and-back portion of the Big Blue Trail yesterday with our 2 Australian Cattle Dogs. The drive to the trail head was not too bad. We were in a Jeep, used the 4x4 on the way up and back, but nearly any vehicle could have made the drive without problem. The only exception to this were several large puddles of water .25 miles from the parking spot. These were significant and deep due to a recent rain.

This trail is predominantly surrounded with trees for the first 4-5 miles. We did not get into the open until around mile #6. Big Blue creek is almost always nearby, and can bee seen or heard almost always. We saw very few signs of deer, elk, or other animals on this hike, but many species of birds were observed and heard.

There were a few trees across the trail, but all were easy to go around or over. The trail is well-work from years of use, but the trail appeared to be used very little in recent years. We did not see any signs of bicycles, camping, trash, or anything else that would indicate heavy usage.

According to other online reports and map study, this trail will connect to the Uncompahgre Trail, and then out of the wilderness via Nellie Creek. This could be done in one day, but would certainly be a long-haul. We hiked to "Slide Lake" as some folks call it, then for another 30 minutes to get clear of the trees. One day we will return to complete a point-to-point hike and go out the other side.

Great hike for kids or folks who are looking for a less strenuous hike. Just go in as far as you want, then turn around and come out.

on Big Blue Trail

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Great trail with tons of adventure. Moderate hiking with multiple stream crossings. Went early in season and little streams were big streams with run off but that kept more people away. Gorgeous and worth every step!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

At first this trail was hard to to figure out which one was it as in the begain ing several met up at the start and the trails are not labeled. After getting on the right one, it take you through nature with loads of trees and wildlife. Saw several deer and some great overlooks. This is a good trail to get you warmed up to the longer trails you can take.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Beautiful trail that leads up to Uncompahgre Peak. Gains quite a bit of altitude, so make sure you are acclimated before trekking out (learned that one by failed experience). The trail generally follows Big Blue Creek so there is plenty of water along the trail, along with beautiful flowers and panoramic mountain views. One note of caution, the drive in to the trailhead is a bumpy one and if there has been a lot of recent rain, low clearance vehicles might not make it up. Overall a beautiful hike. I highly recommend it!

mountain biking
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spectacular descent on rogue singletrack trails from the ghost town of Alta to the highway. Cross the highway and pick up the Sunshine Trail for another 1500 vertical foot descent through aspens. You end up on the Illium Road, and an easy climb takes you back to Telluride.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

This trail offers spectacular views and excellent singletrack that wanders through pine and aspen forests at the base of Wilson Peak. To get the most bang for your buck, ride it from the Sunshine Campground towards Fall Creek Road. There are some long sustained climbs, but the rolling sections in the middle and the downhill at the end are well worth it. The trail opens to motorcycles at the end of June each year. It is open to bikers and hikers earlier, but be ready to deal with a ton of deadfall and blowdown.

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