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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Blaine Basin Tr#203 to Lower & Upr Basin, CO

no permit
50 3 0
Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > West
3.7 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Distance One Way 3.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,326 feet
Elevation Gain 1,810 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,000 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 10.37
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
80  2013-06-14
Colorado Trek - June 2013
50  2012-08-16 CannondaleKid
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep
Sun  5:58am - 6:10pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!
Overview: A very interesting area to navigate with a number of creek crossings which could be tricky depending on the amount of rain in the last few days (you may get wet); The payoff for negotiating these water crossings and staying on trail is an opportunity to visit and view two high altitude meadow area basins ("lower" at 3.2mls in at 10,744ft and "upper" at 3.7mls in at 11,135ft; These two basins reside within the Mount Sneffels Wilderness with the "Upper" Blaine Basin directly NNE below, looking almost straight up at Mount Sneffels summit at 14,150ft; Both basins offer near and distant views of other high peaks along with wildflowers, waterfalls, mine tailing, and two creek branches that frame the round top cirque in front of you;

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Blaine Basin Tr#203 to Lower & Upr Basin
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Colorado Trek - June 2013
    Colorado Trek - June 2013

    For those that know me, I’m in the habit of booking a quarterly “wilderness adventure” months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates. One of my Phoenix Coyotes’ season ticket partners has left me a standing offer to use his Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River plus a physician friend has been bugging me to come visit him at his Telluride retreat. So a 4-day weekend in the San Juan Mountains was the crux of a plan to escape the Valley heat. Memorial Day Weekend is a traditional “stay at home, avoid the holiday madness” mark on the calendar, so the real plan was to target the following weekend (or the following after that…). I got the F-150 prepped a week in advance with oil change, inspection, 2 new tires, placed the never-used spare on the specialty rims, and given that I had to put a new tire on the rig back in early April due to an repairable puncture, I effectively had 4 new tires (foreshadowing – take note of this…). Unlike my 2 previous treks into the San Juan Mountains (check out :next: and ), this trip was primarily a getaway with the wife and dogs with a menu list of potential destinations.

    DAY #0 – Thursday 6/13 After a full day at a strategic planning event, got on the road a little later than I wanted at 6:30pm. Destination was 6 hours and 31 minutes away per Google Maps – the dog friendly Best Western Turquois Inn at Cortez CO (check out :next: ... Code=06009 ). We arrived at 2:30am local time (forgot the 1 hour time change between AZ and CO), exactly 6 hours and 31 minutes’ drive time once you add in the 30 minute stop in Flagstaff for coffee and burgs.

    DAY #1 – Friday 6/14 After purchasing some groceries at the City Market conveniently located across the street from our hotel, Lynn and the dogs and I arrived at the Danzl Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Telluride CO at mid-morning. After some quick unpacking and locating all the hidden padlock keys (Ralph had only equipped me with only the door keys) for the pump house and electrical panel, I had instructions to leave the cottage and outbuildings all unlocked for “Dustin the well specialist”. Dustin had installed a new pump and water system from the well earlier in the season and things weren’t operating 100 percent (more foreshadowing – take note…). Our plan was to head up the West Dolores Fork towards Dunton CO via Route#535/Dunton Road and take the FR611/Black Mesa Road 4WD road towards Black Mesa and Beaver Park and connect onto FR18/Fall Creek Road over to Woods Lake (a primo spot I visited on our last trek :next: and ) and Hwy145 near Sawpit. We stopped along Dunton Road for a couple of photo ops prior to intersecting with FR611 near the village of Dunton. Heading up FR611 a couple of miles, I spotted a meadow full of wildflowers and open views to Dolores Peak – a suitable place to stop for lunch (and we did! Check out :next: ... 1&t=h&z=15 ). We continued along FR611 making multiple stops along the way at assorted beaver ponds, waterfalls, and babbling brooks. At Beaver Park, turned onto FR618/Fall Creek Road and started to climb. Had to wonder if Beaver Park (check out :next: ... 8&t=h&z=15 and ) was an old logging camp and FR611 an old railroad bed – will have to dig into some history. As we were climbing the switchbacks of FR618 I hit the brakes as there was a recent windfall aspen blocking the road. As I hit the brakes, my ”LOW TIRE PRESSURE” sensor was tripped. Well the aspen was too heavy to move and I could hear air pissing out of my passenger rear tire. Since we were on a notable grade, decided to make a 20 point turn and head back to the intersection of FR611 at Beaver Park. Flat tire changed – tire I had replaced in April was remarkably worn since the start of this trip – got to give factory original Goodyear Wrangler SR-A P275/65R18 a major “thumbs down” for durability! Looked like a center tread puncture from a sharp rock – yikes! Disappointed, but unfettered, we altered our route to take FR611 west to its terminus at CR-M44 and head east and then north joining onto Hwy145 just west of the Hwy62 junction near Placerville. Our detour was rewarding given the multiple elk and deer sightings, plus a close-up mother bear and cub encounter. Pulled into Telluride early evening to find out where I could get a new tire on Saturday. Telluride Tire & Auto Service located off Ilium Road was suggested by the locals (along with a “Good luck” and a smile). A “shout-out” to the gas station at Hwy145 and Telluride Road (with the Minersaurs :next: ) for solving my lost reading glasses problem by donating men’s readers that were sitting in their lost-and-found for a couple of years. Arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours after sunset, yet it still seemed quite well lit outside. BBQ steak with mushrooms and asparagus plus a couple of Kilt-Lifter’s to end the day. Ralph indicated that if Dustin resolved the pump problems, water would be running in the cottage. Nothing when I flushed the toilet… Fitbit mileage = 8.44 miles, 65 floors (650 feet AEG).

    DAY #2 – Saturday 6/15 Got up early to drop off the flat tire at Telluride Tire & Auto Service only to discover the doors locked and the hours on the door noting open Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. With cell phone reception in Telluride, also called Ralph to find out the status of the cottage pump per Dustin. The prognosis is not good – problem with electrical service box (extreme voltage fluctuation) requiring local power company to fix – no running water for our visit. With no running water at the cottage, I needed to pick up half a dozen gallon jugs of drinking water. Also, with no spare tire, our off-roading would have to be of the conservative nature. Scratch “Plan A” to head up to the glacial lakes (Clear Lake, Island Lake, Ice Lake; check out :next: and and ) at the end of FR585/South Mineral Creek Road and revert to “Plan B” to head up CR#7 off Hwy 62 to explore a couple of primo sites from last visit (check out :next: ). Once on Hwy 62, made the requisite stops at Dallas Divide and Double RL Ranch (check out :next: and ) to see if I could match up my fall colour photos to this year’s late spring photos. No giant hay rolls along CR#9 so we headed east along the highway to CR#7. We made our way through a couple of rain showers before stopping at the beaver dam meadow just before the Blue Lakes TH and terminus of CR#7. This time I was able to find Jason Hatfield’s (check out :next: ) exact “Teakettle and Cirque” photo location – fence line towards the restroom (large camp was set up at this location last year so I didn’t venture down to this spot). Set up lunch at this meadow and then explored the various beaver dams and side ponds along the East Fork of Dallas Creek (check out :next: ... 1&t=h&z=12 and ). We packed up late afternoon checking out the Blue Lake TH and Blaine Basin TH (check out :next: and ) for future hiking treks before heading back the way we came (Hwy62 to Hwy145) while making a stop in Telluride to walk the main streets checking out the shops plus a slight detour around Trout Lake to check out the railroad remnants – water tower and trestle – along FR626 following the old railway bed (check out :next: ... 1&t=h&z=18 and ... 81Page.htm and ... 74Page.htm ). Lots of elk in the meadow as you enter Telluride. Arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours after sunset (again), yet it still seemed quite well lit outside (again). BBQ dogs with mushrooms and asparagus plus a couple of Sam Adams in cans to end the day. Fitbit mileage = 7.45 miles, 21 floors (210 feet AEG).

    DAY #3 – Sunday 6/16 After stopping in Rico CO (check out :next: ... -30-06.pdf ) at the Mercantile Store for some light groceries, headed towards Alta ghost town and Alta Lakes along FR632/Alta Lakes Road. Given I didn’t have a spare, I thought this would be a safe road to take – just before Alta ghost town (check out :next: ) my ”LOW TIRE PRESSURE” sensor tripped. Now I’ve been getting a ”TIRE PRESSURE SENSOR FAULT” ever since I changed the flat tire on Friday (assumed flat tire with no tire pressure to sense would trip the fault message), so this message is thought to be real. Get out and check the tires, nothing notable, but not wanting to tempt fate, head into Telluride to check tire pressures and air up. Tire pressures all measure 35 pounds (as they should), I air up to 38 pounds to see if the sensor message is reset. Scratch “Plan A” and revert to “Plan B” – Lizard Head Trail (check out :next: ) with a busy TH parking area at Lizard Head Pass. We have our morning hike cut a little short as a thunderstorm comes in from the east over Sheep Mountain and Yellow Mountain. Back at the windy TH, no apparent tire pressure issues, so we decide to head downstream along the Dolores River and have lunch at the Bear Creek TH (check out :next: ). Trailhead lunch and an afternoon hike along Bear Creek Trail #607. I was surprised by the mountain bike and horse encounters along the trail – never encountered anyone along the other trails the past couple of days! We arrived back at the Danzl Cottage a couple of hours before sunset (just for a change). BBQ dogs with corn and asparagus plus a Kilt-Lifter and Sam Adams in cans to end the day. Fitbit mileage = 10.49 miles, 78 floors (780 feet AEG).

    DAY #4 – Monday 6/17 Getaway Day – back home to the Valley heat in Ahwatukee with some minor stops along the way. Quite the contrast being treated to 4 days of 75degF Hi and 45degF Lo in the Colorado San Juan Mountains… Fitbit mileage = 5.32 miles, 14 floors (140 feet AEG).

    MUCHO GRACIAS to the Danzl Family for the use of their Colorado Cottage on the Dolores River

    4-days in the San Juan Mountains

    Many elk and deer, plus a mother bear with cub

    No TV, internet, or cell phone reception

    1 problematic flat tire and tire pressure sensor

    1 problematic electrical box at the cottage

    2 people learning to flush a toilet without running water

    235 images on 2 cameras (68 on 7D, 167 on Rebel XT)

    Fitbit totals of 31.70 miles and 178 floors (1780 AEG) [8.44+7.45+10.49+5.32=31.70 and 65+21+78+14=178]

    Added 1386 miles to the F-150 odometer [451+141+193+97+504=1386]

    Practice for August in the Kashmir Himalayas


    :) :) :)
    Blaine Basin Tr#203 to Lower & Upr Basin
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After a few days of driving more than hiking this was to be a short drive (only 12 miles from the cabin) and a longer hike.

    Right away it was a bit more than expected, as the GPS track we were following (I got on HAZ) led us cross-country with no hint of a trail. With so much deadfall, some being too large to climb over it wasn't long before we gave up on following the track and chose the easiest route in the general direction of the trail. But even the lesser of two evils was not the easiest going, so when we found some game trails along Wilson Creek we followed them until forced to climb up to what once was a road but now appeared to be a drainage canal. We followed it until a large washout where we were forced to climb again, this time reaching an existing ATV track. Finally! Something not so taxing.

    We followed the track until it connected with Dallas Trail, which is what we should have taken in the first place. While it may be shorter as-the-crow-flies taking the route we did, it took much more time and energy than following the Dallas Trail from the Blue Lakes Trailhead. Live and learn.

    Not long after we hit the Dallas Trail we saw a trail going off in the direction of a waterfall, and of course being curious, we took it. When we reached Wilson Creek I spotted a faint trail that I hoped would bring us up to the falls. While initially promising, it ended up leading away from the falls before dying off. Not willing to give up we headed in the direction of the most noise and eventually reached the creek just below the falls. We wanted to continue up closer to the falls but if we used up too much time on this side-trip we might not have the time or energy to complete our original objective. So we called time on the side-trip and set off on a bee-line cross-country back to the trail. Unlike the beginning of our hike, this area was very easy and we were soon back on the trail.

    Just short of Blaine Basin we met the only other person we'd see all day, a solo gal who was from the area. Just a short chat and we continued to Blaine Basin. We took our lunch break once we reached the basin. While eating I couldn't help but be fascinated by the possibility that if I climbed up to the saddle below Mount Sneffels I'd be able to see the lower of Blue Lakes. So, while Tracey took a nap I'd set off on another side-trip. (I'll post a separate triplog for the climb)

    Once my side-trip was done we set off on our return trip, which was uneventful except for encountering a garter snake across the trail. I must have been totally wiped out and walking in cruise-control-mode because I stepped right over it without knowing it was there. Usually I have the eagle-eye for snakes but this time Tracey brought it to my attention. A few photos and back in cruise-control to the Blue Lakes Trailhead.

    I posted 50 photos on HAZ and the full set of 75 photos here:

    A 4-minute composite video of the highlights on our hike including the waterfall on Wilson Creek is here:
    Blaine Basin Tr#203 to Lower & Upr Basin
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This fourth day of CO hiking was a transition day from the Ouray area to the Telluride area.

    This out and back hike to two high meadow basins under 14,150ft Mount Sneffels was an excellent choice due to driving locale and scenic beauty. A real shame I never thought about having a camera along until my hikes beginning in December'08 :(

    Thanks to our RWStorm, here is a distant view of the Mount Sneffels area where this hike resides (3015ft below the summit looking straight up is where you will be if you hike to the "upper" Blaine Basin at 11,135ft)-->

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Ouray,CO: Drive north from Ouray on Hwy 550 to Ridgeway and turn west on Hwy 62 towards Telluride; Five miles from this junction look for a sign on the right saying "National Forest Access- Dallas Creek"; Turn left (south) onto County Road 7; Drive a total of ~8.9 miles to Parking/TH Start (drive past Willow Swamp, cross over the East Fork of Dallas Creek, and drive ~200 yards "past" the TH sign for Blue Lakes Tr#201 and Park); Hike through the yellow gate to TH and sign-in box..the Blaine Basin Tr#203 goes left; the Blue Lakes Tr#201 goes right;
    page created by Grasshopper on Aug 24 2011 7:26 pm
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