Columbine Lake Trail is a 8.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Silverton, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,933 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

forest

lake

views

wildlife

snow

First 2 miles are tough but once you get up to the saddle it's much easier. There are 16 discernible switchbacks before you meander through to the end of the trees. Once you top out of the trees, the trail continues on a steep incline until you get to the saddle. The lake is beautiful and on par with Ice Lake's coloring. Worth the hike but it is demanding for sure! Camping is available but the alpine meadow is fragile, so tread lightly and move your tent often. You can access this lake via snowshoe year round, but there are avalanches in this area, so extreme caution must be used. Check in with the Forest Service before snowshoeing.

hiking
6 days ago

Made it to 12,600 feet, but the snow was too much to make it any further. Should be good to go with snow shoes or in a couple weeks when it’s melted some more!

hiking
16 days ago

Guys did the lake open and island lake is open too or no please if anyone knows and sure let me know thank u so much

hiking
snow
19 days ago

Too snowy without snowshoes but still an amazing hike. Will come back later in the summer!

hiking
20 days ago

Hiked August 12th, 2019 WORTH. EVERY. DROP. OF. SWEAT. (and burning legs)

hiking
1 month ago

HARD trail but has one of the best views in Colorado. Highly recommend, just start early and know what your in for!

hiking
5 months ago

Completed this trail last summer. As with everyone else it was hard, granted I had spent the better part of the year trapped behind a desk but my lungs were screaming. There was one rock ledge were my world spun but the final lake- definitely tucked away- was totally worth it.

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
6 months ago

Snowy from start to finish. Some scramble and sketch places but my dog and I completed the whole trail. Beautiful and only saw one person

hiking
7 months ago

Such a tough hike to the lake but it’s so worth it. I read that the first Iake was rough with the switchbacks and that after it got easier.. they lied. The switch backs are like rough but after you finish them there is an opening. For me; that is when it became brutal. Once you get to the saddle, it’s pretty flat from there. The lake is well hidden. I got worried I wasn’t going to make it. The lake is phenomenal and so worth it. Such a hidden gem.

hiking
7 months ago

If you have a low clearance sedan like me, driving up forest road 820 to park directly at the trailhead is not recommended. I made it, and the road is fine until you are almost to the trailhead and then it is full of loose rock and I just about didn't make it. So the best idea is to alltrails and park at the bridge and walk the road to trailhead is the best idea. Or maybe you can park before the trailhead on road 820, but there are barely in pullouts to do this at. The hike was great and I did a of cross country loop from Columbine to the upper lake and to pass overlooking Bridal Veil Basin (check the topo map to see where a old trail goes to the pass).

hiking
7 months ago

Excellent views. Hiked on October 6th , beautiful day, trees have not changed colors yet . All and mostly green. On a side note, I forgot my 2 knee caps by lake side . if anyone finds those knee caps, black colored, will kindly request to bring it down and deposit at Silverton visitors center. It will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

hiking
7 months ago

It’s a doozy! But so worth it. If you’re driving to the trailhead, go right after the bridge. We made it up in our Subaru Outback. Was super windy and pretty chilly. Bring lots of layers.

hiking
8 months ago

Did this hike in mid-September (original plan of July wasn't possible due to lingering feet of snow). I'm so glad I found a time to make it work! Note that there is dispersed camping right in the same area - if that's your thing :). I got to the trail head shortly after sunrise and was the first car - highly recommend getting their early for parking and avoiding afternoon storms. As others have noted, the switchbacks are STEEP. I do a lot of mountain hiking so didn't have a problem, but there were others that looked uncomfortable with it (and I noticed some people turned around). There wasn't a ton of wildflowers but the views of Red Mountain and the surrounding area were epic. I was able to enjoy the lake for about an hour and headed back down before seeing other people. As expected, there were afternoon storms after I started driving so the late-starters definitely got some rain/muddy trails. I definitely recommend this trail if you want a challenging, amazing hike that isn't overly packed with people.

hiking
rocky
8 months ago

Did this one last Tuesday (9/10). We started early (around 5:30) and made it to the lake just in time to see the sun rise over the basin. The elevation gain is borderline cruel -- not a ton of flatter sections to keep you motivated -- but the views are worth it. A lot of people here are comparing it to the Ice Lakes trail and, in my opinion, while the Ice Lakes trail is a more pleasant walk, the views from this one are way more spectacular. Plus, we saw only two other people all day. The trail is pristine! There are still some wildflowers and a few small snowfields to cross. Push up to Columbine Pass if the weather is cooperative! Lots of loose rock on the descent -- my partner wished he'd brought poles, but nothing uncomfortable. If you have 4WD and a decent amount of clearance, you can drive directly to the trailhead. Just make sure to take the turn off of Ophir Pass road, then drive about 3/4 of a mile to the marker on your left. We had no issue parking early in the morning, but it sounds like it fills up later in the day.

hiking
8 months ago

BRUTAL BUT BEAUTIFUL! This trail is the most difficult hike I've ever endured! However, one of the most gratifying views awaits you at the top! I've never seen such blue gorgeous water! Truly breathtaking (and breathtaking d/t the altitude gain haha) The trail immediately begins with switchbacks that are easy to discern. Afterward, you progress above treeline into an open valley. From treeline to the saddle is the absolute hardest portion of the hike. You are truly heading straight up. After the saddle, the trail levels out some with a moderate incline on your way to the lake. The views of the valley are absolutely phenomenal. The lake itself, is one of the most beautiful things I've ever been fortunate enough to see with my own eyes. Pictures will give you an idea, seeing it for yourself will leave a lasting impression, believe me. The way back is steep, especially the switchbacks. We did fine without poles, but prepare your knee's and patellas for the way down. DO NOT take this hike lightly! Be prepared, mentally, physically, and bring plenty of water and snacks. Enjoy!

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked this 8/22/2019. We had a little trouble finding the trail head — drove up the road without any real trouble in our SUV — but there is a tiny sign post to mark it. First half as many have said is quite steep but above the tree line the views are gorgeous! We got to the lake just as hail and thunder started so no time to relax but just turned around and headed for the trees a good 2+ miles off. I don’t think this is more beautiful than Ice Basin Lakes Trail but certainly the solitude and quiet (apart from the guy on the motorbike) were superior!

hiking
bugs
8 months ago

Beautiful hike! High clearance 4WD vehicle needed to get to the trailhead. Parking is VERY limited. There are no spots and no parking lot. I parked alongside the 4WD dirt road. Trail is very steep until the saddle, then levels out. This hike kicked my butt, and I am a strong mountain hiker. I would say this hike is not 8.3 miles like All Trails says. All the other beta out there says it is 7 miles. I believe it is 8.3 miles if you park at the start of the road and don’t drive up it. I was checking my distance in the All Trails app and didn’t come close to 8.3 miles.

hiking
8 months ago

Trail In Great shape. Solid hike for serious hikers. The early morning people know the deal. Most of the afternoon starts look somewhat unprepared for the day. If your going to put this much effort start early to ensure you get to the lake. 1/2 all up, 2nd 1/2 pretty easy. The lake is one of the bluest lakes ever! Hard to leave. There’s a couple side hikes From the lake; we went to Columbine Pass and got treated to another epic view!!! Awesome hike, Awesome day! Finding parking and the trail head may be the hardest thing we did today. Access off of Ophir Pass road, And take a pretty quick right off of the Pass Road to access the mine parking area. Parking is limited!

hiking
bugs
washed out
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

I don't have a dog but "In the San Juan National Forest and Weminuche Wilderness Area - Dogs are permitted to be off leash in these areas as long as they are within sight and under voice control."

hiking
no shade
snow
9 months ago

I didn't come across the cranky gal complaining about dogs on one of the most beautiful hikes to one of the most amazing lakes ever, but you're deep in the backcountry on National Forest land in CO: dogs are allowed off-leash. I only saw 4 other people and 2 dogs on my hike, but zero dog poop or litter, so kudos to fellow dog owners and hikers for LNT (Leave No Trace). Astounding cobalt blue lake at the end, pure magic!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Everyone on trail had off leash dogs that were going crazy. Law says dogs on leashes. Stay on trail- you and your offleash dog stomping the tundra are ruining it.

hiking
9 months ago

Many thanks to the women who found my keys & left them at the trailhead :) Apparently a popular spot to lose car keys since mine weren't the only ones left there It's a fantastic hike, the lake is the bluest I've seen (a little moreso than Island Lake, much much moreso than Ice Lake). Very steep for the first 1.7 miles (assuming you drive the first mile - any sedan can make it no problem), never dangerous. Still some snow, it's no problem. Overall the trail's not quite as amazing as Ice/Island Lake (hard to imagine anything is) but still totally worth doing

hiking
9 months ago

(Hiked 8/18/2019) Physically demanding, but well worth the effort. The first bit is very steep with rapid elevation gain. Even if you’re in good shape, you’ll likely find yourself fairly winded. There were about 6 or 7 small snow crossings, but the trail is easy to follow and the snow is fairly stable still. Tons of wildflowers throughout the hike and the lake is stunning. We went up a bit higher than the lake and got some extra amazing views of the San Juans on the opposite side. Be sure to pack and/ or wear sunscreen and bug spray. Bring snacks and water and take plenty breaks. The base area is around 10,000 and you’ll top out at nearly 13,000 feet.

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