Red Mountain #3's Neighbor
Mineral Basin is one of the easier accessed alpine basins in Colorado. In reality, this hike uses a 4x4 road, but it is an enjoyable hike and can be done in any season, so long as you are careful about conditions and have proper gear. Summer, during the wildflower season, is probably the nicest time of year to hike the basin, but it can be enjoyed in any season. Autumn can offer some clear, dry air and snow free conditions, and winter can provide back country skiing and spectacular long distance views.
The hike, on the Black Bear Pass Road, takes you to 12,840' and Black Bear Pass. From there, it only requires a little more effort to summit nearby 13,321' Trico Peak, named for the 3 counties that meet on the summit. Numerous lakes dot Mineral Basin, and as with all the alpine lakes in the region, you could swim in them if you like cold, cold water. The hike itself offers fantastic alpine scenery and views of the area. While you might want to summit Trico Peak, you don't need to in order to enjoy views that stretch to the La Sal Mountains outside of Moab, Utah. You might not be able to see that distance in summer with the monsoon moisture in the air, but the Valley to the west is still very impressive and the nearby alpine terrain is quite enjoyable. This hike requires relatively little effort for a large amount of rewards, and makes a good easy or introductory hike to high elevation Colorado hiking.
The hike begins at Red Mountain Pass and leaves on the 4x4 road at the SW side of the pass. Look for the signs. It is mostly long gentle switchbacks. There are a few other road junctions, and you may want a map to ensure you remain on the correct path. You will ascend a few long switchbacks and gain the eastern ridge of Trico Peak before dropping into the basin and weaving through the terrain before topping out at the pass. The road continues on to Telluride, and can also be done as a motoring trip, if you would rather not hike. High clearance 4-wheel drive required if you choose that option, which I recommend against.
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.