- Closest town: Silverton, CO
- Trailhead: Columbine Lake Trailhead
- Distance: about 6 miles round trip
- Dog Friendly
From the city of Silverton, head north on Highway 550 (the scenic Million Dollar Highway) towards Ironton and Ouray. Turn left on forest road 679, and then you’ll take a sharp right onto forest road 820 (don’t miss it!). Follow the gps coordinate for the trailhead as there isn’t a sign. Find parking along the road once you’ve spotted the start of the trail.
The trail starts off with some gnarly switchbacks to quickly get you up above tree line. Things will be pretty steep for the first two miles, but push through because the views are about to get amazing! The photo on the left below shows Sam in mile two looking back down on the progress we had made. Brownie points if you can name the purple flower (hint: it’s a very fitting find for this particular trail!).
Once you’ve crushed the first two miles, the elevation gain goes down significantly and mile three is full of stunning views. We hiked this trail in early July and experienced some snowy/muddy patches on the last mile, but nothing deep enough or wet enough that our socks got too wet through our shoes. I did find my hiking poles helpful at times.
Just when you think it can’t get any better, you’ll reach Columbine Lake and your jaw is sure to drop at the sight of this stunning blue lake. We hiked up and around the left side of the lake to get these views that you see below (it was just a few extra minutes of hiking- worth it!). And of course I brought my American flag for the 4th of July! The wildflowers on this trail were incredible and I was losing my mind the whole time. It was a giddy day for me haha. After just one visit, this is absolutely one of my new favorite hikes in Colorado.
Take a well deserved snack break while you take in this insane view. We met a super nice guy named Paul who has climbed every 14er in Colorado, which we thought was very impressive. He was showing his brother around the San Juans for the weekend, and we all agreed that this was an incredible choice. The view on the bottom left shows Sam looking down on another lake that’s visible by scrambling uphill just a bit farther from our overlook point.
Return to you car the way you came, grateful that you’re going down and not up. However, that second mile is particularly loose dirt so be careful on your way back down- we were slipping a bit! If you’re headed back to Silverton, I highly suggest grabbing a pizza at Golden Block Brewery, and topping it off with a funnel cake from Rocky Mountain Funnel Cake Factory. I promise you won’t regret it!
As aways, please practice Leave No Trace and leave this beautiful place better than you found it!