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Blue Lakes Hike Near Telluride, CO | Ultimate Hiker’s Guide

Blue Lakes Hike near Telluride is one of the most beautiful hikes Colorado has to offer! Located in Mount Sneffels Wilderness is this hard yet very rewarding hike to 3 different alpine lakes. Just as you might of guessed, this hike offers stunning blue lakes at the end surrounded by green-covered mountains.

Jake and I were blown away when we arrived and it quickly became one of our favorite hikes.

Blue Lakes Trail has some depth, as it can be done as a challenging day hike, can be roped into a multi-day backpacking trip to see lower, middle and the upper lake. Or the trail can be paired with summiting Mt. Sneffels.

Listed below is everything you need to know about hiking Blue Lakes Trail!

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Stats For Hiking Blue Lakes Trail:

  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation: 2217 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Type: Out & back
  • Permit: No
  • Bathroom: At Trailhead
  • Dogs: Yes
The aqua blue color of Blue Lakes Hike

Trailhead For Blue Lakes Hike Near Telluride:

To get to the Blue Lakes trailhead, you will turn off CO-62 onto CO Rd 7 which is a 9 mile, long gravel road. Some sections of the road are a bit rough. While a passenger car can reach the trailhead, it’s suggested to have high clearance, 4wd or awd vehicle.

If you don’t have a high-clearance vehicle, the road is still doable, but you will just have to go slow and take your time finding the right path to avoid deep potholes. 

The parking lot at the trailhead for Blue Lakes Trail isn’t very big for the demand of the hike, so many cars have to park along the dirt road making the hike longer than the anticipated amount.

Do note this hike is at high elevation. If you are traveling from a lower elevation or sea level, take a day or two to acclimate to the higher elevation. Altitude sickness is a real concern when hiking at high elevation.

Start of Blue Lakes Hike:

Beautiful Forest From The Start Of The Hike

For this hike, you will be following along Blue Lakes Trail. The beginning of this hike is the toughest because you start climbing the steepest part of the elevation gain right away. You will be surrounded by thick forest with beautiful tall trees and green vegetation on each side of the trail. 

Along the hike you will be blessed with stunning views all around!

River Crossing For Blue Lakes Trail Near Telluride:

River River Crossing At Blue Lakes TrailCrossing At Blue Lakes Trail
Crossing the East Fork of Dallas Creek

About 1.5 miles into the hike you will encounter the East Fork of Dallas Creek. The creek crossing has large rocks and logs in place for you to keep your feet dry, but you will want to make sure your valuables are tucked away in your backpack just in case!

Second Half Of Blue Lakes Hike:

on the way up blue lakes hike you will see Mount Sneffels, Gilpin Peak, Dallas Peak
Blue Lakes Trail

Continuation of the trail after the river crossing will continue to gradually climb in elevation. You will pass through think wilderness with a narrow path and steep decline on one side, so be sure to watch your steps.

Once you make it out of the tree coverage, you will get a glance of the Mount Sneffels, Gilpin Peak, and Dallas Peak.

Getting To The Legendary Blue Lakes Near Telluride:

Blue Lakes

When you arrive at the first lake, you will pass through many peoples campsites, so be sure to be respectful to them and their belongings. Once you see the lake, the area between the trail and the lake is a bit swampy (picture below), so it makes some areas impassible. 

About 100 feet from the lake, we ventured to the left where we approached a river crossing with a log leading from one side to the other. Once we reached the other side there was a less soggy path toward the lake and found a spot to have a snack and enjoy the beautiful blue lake. You can continue to the right side of the lake and you will see a beautiful waterfall running into the lake.

Swamp Area In Front Of Blue Lakes (Why we suggest crossing the river to the left)
Beautfiul Waterfall To The Right Of Blue Lakes

Continuing on To The Middle Lake & Upper Lake:

Mt sneffels view of upper blue lakes near telluride, CO
View Of Upper Blue Lake from Mt Sneffel’s

If you are adventurous and not exhausted at this point, you can venture on, to the middle and upper lakes where you can capture a stunning view of the lower lake! You can find the trail to both the middle blue lake and upper lakes right by the river crossing mentioned above before you get to lower blue lake.

This section of the trail climbs above tree line.

Hiking up to upper blue lakes is an additional 2 miles round trip with and additional 750 feet in elevation gain. 

Getting To Mt. Sneffels From Blue Lakes Hike Near Telluride:

At the top of Blue Lakes Pass, you will find access to the summit of Mount Sneffels. But be prepared for an absolute climb as the total hike ends up being 13 miles roundtrip with 5501 feet of elevation gain.

Getting to the summit requires a class 3 scramble and should only be completed by experienced hikers.

You can also reach the summit via Yankee Boy Basin or Upper Blue Lakes Trailhead Parking Lot.

For all the detail about climbing to Mt. Sneffels via Blue Lakes Trail, check out our other post: Summiting Mt. Sneffels: Ouray, CO | Everything You Need To know

Camping At blue Lakes:

Trail Leading to Lower Blue Lake Near Ridgeway, CO

There is dispersed campsites close to the trailhead along the dirt road, but during busy seasons they can be hard to come by. We ended up finding a large field on the right side of the road about a mile from the trailhead. There was plenty of space for several groups to camp, although rather close together.

Backpacking Blue Lakes Trail Near Telluride:

Blue Lakes Hike can be done as an overnight backpacking trip. I would highly suggest doing this hike as a backpacking trip if you have the time.

A great itinerary would be to hike up to the lower Blue Lake on the first day. Then venture onto the other lakes the following day!

There are plenty of great campsites tucked into the woods near the first Blue Lake.

You can use the lake or the creek as your water source. Be sure to have a backcountry water filter. Jake and I love our Platypus Gravity Works.

Also, this trail is located in bear country, so be sure to have proper food storage. We suggest using a bear canister, but you can also use a bear hang from a tree branch. As long as it is unreachable by a bear.

If you do decide to backpack, make sure to give other campers space and try not to camp on top of each other. As always remember, leave no trace!

If you choose to go backpacking, check out our post:

What Backpacking Gear Do I Need | Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

Takeaway | Blue Lakes Hike Near Telluride, CO | Ultimate Hiker’s Guide:

Us at Lower Blue Lakes With Some Friends

The hike to Blue Lakes Trail near Telluride, CO is absolutely stunning and very picturesque, but definitely a strenuous hike.

One regret we have, is not hiking up higher to snag a better photo, but it is still worth hiking up. We also wish we chose to do this as a backpacking trip, because you really can’t spend nearly enough time up there.

Also, as mentioned above, Mt. Sneffels is totally worth the climb if you do choose to backpack. But none-the-less, this is one of the best hikes in Colorado.

Also check out these Attractions nearby:

Things to pack For Blue Lakes Trail Near Telluride, CO:

  • Dry-bag/Ziploc baggies
  • Snacks
  • Hat
  • Camera
  • GoPro
  • Rain Jacket
  • Extra Layers (depending on weather/time of year)
Aqua blue water with the lush green mountains
Love the colors of the aqua blue water with the lush green mountains
The waterfall that feeds into lower blue lakes
The waterfall that feeds into lower blue lakes
Lookingout over the valley from the trailhead
The beautiful plants along the trail up to Blue Lakes Trail
View of Dallas Peak from Blue Lakes Hike
Lush Green Vegetation at Blue Lakes
Lower Blue Lakes
Beautiful Peaks on Blue Lakes Trail
The Apline Tundra higher up on the Blue Lakes Hike
Long exposure of the waterfall that feels into lower blue lake
Long exposure of the waterfall that feels into lower blue lake

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Thursday 9th of July 2020

beautiful. - silly question but can you do blue lakes and ice/island lake in the same hike or totally different?

Emily Schroeter

Thursday 9th of July 2020

Unfortunately, you can't. Blue lakes is North of Telluride and Ice Lake & Island Lake are South of Telluride. But they are both definitely worth checking out though!