Photographers and sight seers alike enjoy Blue Lakes, one of the most popular hikes in Southwest Colorado.
There are several options, from a short 6 mile round trip to the lower lake, make a day of it, and hike to Blue Lakes Pass, about 11.5 miles, or, climb up and over from the trail head just past Yankee Boy Basin, allowing for spectacular views on the descent into the basin.
This time, we chose to hike Blue Lakes Pass, accessing the trail head from the Dallas entrance, which is a short drive outside of Ridgway. To get to the trail head, take Highway 62 through Ridgway toward Telluride, and turn left onto Dallas Creek Road. The trail head is about 14 miles further, offering spectacular views from your car in anticipation of more to come.
With an altitude gain of about 3600 feet, you will start climbing immediately, but the trail soon levels out somewhat, offering awesome views of Dallas Divide.
As you follow the trail, the first glimpse of the lower lake is quite breathtaking. Aptly named, the water is deep and blue, reflecting in the mountain sunshine. After taking a few moments to explore around the waters edge, we returned to the trail for the climb to the upper lakes.
Every pause for breath resulted in yet another spectacular view of the lake below, surrounded by wildflowers and spring green grass. Once again, the trail evens out a bit, offering a rolling walk to the two upper lakes.
At the top lake, we climbed a grassy hill, and enjoyed a box lunch from Roast & Toast, a local restaurant in Ouray, before turning around and heading back to the car.
As we enjoyed our lunch, we watched hikers descend the trail from the other side of the pass, which can be accessed by four-wheel drive vehicle, if you continue on past Yankee Boy Basin from the Ouray side. This portion of the trail begins at almost the same spot as the trail head for Mount Sneffels, one of our spectacular 14'ers. From the Yankee Boy side, the trail begins above timberline, a steep climb to the top and over the summit into the basin. This is a shorter access point offering unbelievable views of all three lakes when you reach the summit. Either way, the hike is absolutely beautiful, rewarding hikers with views more than worth the climb!