Explore the most popular camping 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.

Great hike. The views are incredible and we saw the lake in clouds, sunshine, and snow—all within about 10 minutes. It’s well worth the effort. We saw it listed as “moderate” but viewed it as tougher than that.

Amazing and challenging hike. Use the directions from earlier posts (thanks) to make sure you don’t miss the trail to Blue Lake. Bridal trail falls was just a trickle at this time of year but there are other amazing waterfalls along the trail. Make sure you wear hiking boots or trail runners. Hikers who wore running shoes had trouble navigating the loose gravel both up and down the trail. The views were well worth the hike!!

Beautiful Hike - every turn you take you either have an awesome viewpoint or eyes on a waterfall. Hiked this in last August while a storm was rolling in. It was overcast, but I imagine on a clear day you will be hot and in the sun for most of the hike.
Any 4x4 car will make it to the top of Bridal Veil Falls (no need for high clearance). The first fork in the trail: Right will take you to Silver Lake. Second fork in the trial: Left will take you to Blue Lake, Right will take you to Lewis Lake

hiking
1 month ago

Considered this hike hard. Continous incline until reaching the lake. Unfortunately the day was overcast and the lake wasn't as blue. Great views and waterfalls. Took us 4 hours to complete

backpacking
1 month ago

A hidden gem in my opinion. Packed in and camped at the top of the lower valley. Had the Canyon to ourselves. As others have said, the trail is not well marked.
For day hike, we scrambled up the drainage and eventually met up with another trail that follows the perimeter. Learned that this trail can be found if you take a right turn on to a single-trek trail off the main road you come in on. The trail was a saving grace after scrambling through the scree field. Be prepared for quick weather changes at this time of the year.
Eventually scrambled to the saddle for a view of Island Lake. All in all, a beautiful Labor Day adventure.

I did this trail back in mid-July. When you turn up to start Wasatch you'll start the real elevation. Spectacular views where I stopped to set camp. Near the 2nd waterfall. Amazing trail.

This is an absolutely stunning hike. We drove our jeep to the top of bridal veil Falls near the powerhouse and parked in the sixth switch back up. There is no parking at the very top of the 4 x 4 trail near the powerhouse. We are flatlanders from Ohio and it was our first day at altitude so we were sucking wind most of the way up. Took us about 2 hours and 10 minutes to reach the lake. Started hailing as soon as we got up there. It was a beautiful hike all the way through with a stream, waterfalls, and amazing mountain scenery the whole way. For sure one of my favorite hikes of all time. Bring a lot of water, I drank about 4 L, and make sure to dress in layers and be prepared for weather at the top.

We did the hike starting from the very bottom of the falls since we just had a small sedan. The hike was about 11 miles from the bottom round-trip (per my Fitbit) and was about 150 flights up. The trail was gorgeous! Honestly, it was one of the prettiest hikes I’ve ever been on (and I’ve also hiked Mt Sneffels). Since we went at the end of August, the colors were breathtaking and we started around 7:00 am so the mountains were shrouded with clouds & mist. It was awesome. Definitely a challenging hike since the first 5+ miles are all incline. The Lake itself isn’t that spectacular but it was cool to see the old mining ruins next to it.

Beautiful views!! It was a pretty narrow trail in most places. Steep and such a Great workout. Not very many people on the trail. Locals say to be get to the trails early in Ouray because like clockwork, it almost always storms at noon.

Beautiful trail - nice, flowery switchbacks with gorgeous views!

Did this lovely hike with my 21 month old son in a backpack and my 10lb shih tzu. We had a blast, and even took a dip in the ice cold lake!

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike. Scramble up the saddle and drop into island and ice lakes.

hiking
2 months ago

We only hiked 2.5miles in, but it was a very nice hike. Great fishing as well and we were lucky enough to see 3 moose! Bring bug spray.

Loved this hike. We had walked all the way from the bottom of the bridal veil falls which made for a long day but I would still do it again. From the top of the falls you are hiking right along the river that feeds the falls. This river is gorgeous the whole way with plenty of little waterfalls. I went mid July and the wildflowers were breathtaking. Every slope was covered with them and there were plenty of different varieties to look at. Walking up to the lake we didn’t even see it at first because the reflection was so vivid. The lake was pristine and was surrounded by jagged peaks. Also near the top was left over parts from the old mines making for some beautiful pictures.

Great hike with amazing views of Ouray. You walk through the mine, which is cool. I would suggest going up to the mine first and then doing the remaining part of the Portland Loop trail as that will get the hardest part over first.

This is a beautiful hike. I got elevation sickness so it may not be for everyone. It’s worth it though. Take lots of water or a water filter (lots of water everywhere) and sunscreen and make sure your battery on your camera is well charged because your going to use it!

Really fun with a rewarding view at the top. The falls are great even in this super dry year, forming small pools to cool off in. Highly recommend going on to the old mine buildings, particularly the far one which has an old Denver mining co drill and some other interesting equipment in it, not to mention a fantastic view of the town below. The blocked off cavern just past it contains a vertical shaft apparently created with that rock drill in the building.

on Swamp Canyon Trail

hiking
3 months ago

The start of the trail is accurate, and we drove (high clearance 4x4) up to a gate prior to the true trailhead.

Followed what seems to be an old mining/now USFS road all the way up past marshlands (past cairn-designated trail off to the right that shows on this app but is not named) into the basin before realizing we were actually on a local single track trail. Could not find the shown Swamp Canyon trail past this point - The single track turns back toward Ophir Pass and we wanted to go further up the basin to summit the pass and look over to Island Lake. So we bushwhacked up to the point where we ran across the previous cairn-designated trail we’d decided against.

Following this up to the pass, the last mile is loose scree. The scramble up and over the pass is exactly that - take a hard look at it! We spent over an hour getting up and down this short section and while the views are beautiful, it wasn’t exactly safe or designated route. There’s a reason the highlighted Swamp Canyon trail ends well before the summit of the pass!

Overall, beautiful adventure of a morning. Tons of wildflowers, columbine everywhere in the lower meadows, lots of waterfalls and creeks flowing.

Gorgeous, stunning... and read on for tips not mentioned in any other review. For me, this was a 12.3-mile hike, because my car couldn't get over the rocks and straight waterfall crossings (for real) on the ride up Bridal Veil. :)

IMPORTANT: As someone else said earlier (thank you! I would have been lost without you), there are no signs, so remember: At the first trail split, stay left; at the second trail split (another 1/2 mile or so up), stay right. This way you'll make it to Blue Lake and not some of the other lakes.

PRO TIP: You can hitchhike up or down it! Locals do this often. I didn't realize this until the end of the hike, however. I started my hike at 10:30am and finished at 4pm. No snow at all this time of year. This hike for me was very long and rises in elevation 3,000 feet.

Also, this is COMPLETELY different than the Blue Lakes Trail near Mt. Sneffels, I did not know this, but it hardly mattered because the views are beyond stunning and truly kept me going. The majority of the trail past Bridal Veils falls is in the sunshine; wear sunscreen even if you normally don't and bring plenty of water. And a fully charged phone or camera, as you'll want to take hundreds of pictures.

So beautiful. With a lovely surprise just around the bend!

My friend and I did this hike last Saturday (6/2) around 10 am. We drove my friend's Rav 4 to the top of Bridal Veil Falls, which was a magnificent drive, but definitely a bit challenging for his vehicle in terms of clearance. However, driving to the top was the right option, as it took about 5 miles off our trek to the trailhead for Blue Lake.

We started our "physical" hike around 11 am and completed the trek around 2:30 pm.

This was a magnificent hike with incredible views of the Three Needles and Bridal Veil Creek all the way up to the lake. The trail itself was covered in river flow (no more than an inch at places), but made for an incredibly pleasant hike. There were also waterfalls galore in the Bridal Veil Valley, which just added to the majesty of this impeccable trek.

The peaks leading up to the lake are breathtaking and there was a little bit of snow on the trail, but nothing that required Yaktrax/crampons.

The lake itself was completely frozen and would have been cool to see a little later in the summer when it is completely thawed out. Still an amazing hike that I would recommend to anyone visiting Telluride for the weekend!

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

backpacking
Thursday, September 07, 2017

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.

hiking
Wednesday, September 06, 2017

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.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

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hiking
Sunday, July 16, 2017

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Great hike. If you go West to East the first mile is pretty easy then the next mile or 2 are a good workout. (1300 feet of ascent) Then it gently rolls until you hit Mill Creek. Mainly forest hiking but you get some great views from the rock slide clearings.

hiking
Sunday, July 02, 2017

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.

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