The Best Hikes in Uncompahgre National Forest

136 Triplog Reviews in the Uncompahgre National Forest
Most recent of 53 deeper Triplog Reviews
2.64 mi • 499 ft aeg
With the lack of precipitation and general winter in the Valley of the Sun, I've been trying to make every attempt to experience snow as often as possible. Every so often, one of these trips turns out to be more spectacular than I imagined. Snowshoeing on the Bear Creek Trail was one of these exceptional experiences. We had a full day of activities in Telluride, so we only went part of the way to Upper Bear Creek Falls. Regardless of distance, every step was a breathtaking view of the dramatic San Juans, blanketed in white.


12 mi • 3,000 ft aeg
Fun hike to the summit of this lonely peak. Good trail up to treeline, then off-trail either directly up the Class 3+ east ridge or cross the talus field below the peak and then ascend the Class 2 north ridge (I did the latter).

Drive from Norwood via 44Z > M44 > 611 > 612 to the trailhead located at 37.9065 -108.2415. Roads are good until 612, which gets rougher the higher you go. I parked well down the mountain and walked most of 612. Good camping in the area, which is also popular with hunters.
4.32 mi • 2,383 ft aeg
Started on time! No mountain running events , no closed roads. Parked at the Upper TH, 2dr Rubicon. It was a bit more chilly than I expected especially in the lower gully (scree fest).
Again opted for talus hopping vs. trying to negotiate the scree on the gully of despair. So eroded on the right side. One foot in front of the other and before I knew it (actually over an hour later) I was past the saddle and ascending the upper gully (Lavander Col). Then the infamous V notch! That was actually a fun quick class 3 move, looked much harder in the videos I saw.
Summit views? 360 degrees of majestic mountains and beautiful blue lakes. Winds were calm, clear skies... truly rewarding!
The descent was treacherous for sure. Overall a fun and challenging hike.. Steep scree that can make one scream :y:
Next time? Southwest ridge approach!
4.21 mi • 1,385 ft aeg
My birthday wish was to make it to the top of Mt. Sneffels, the views are supposed to be one of the best in Colorado (hence the name Queen of the San Juans).

Prior to this hike I had researched on the standard route a ton. I think I've seen all the Youtube Mt. Sneffels videos. Naturally I dreaded the 'V notch' (considered the crux of the route).
We did not even make it to the notch. :doh:

Time was not on our side that day. Had a good breakfast at a local cafe, thought we could make it to the trailhead by 9am. It was never meant to be. Note to self..do not plan a hike the same day as the Imogene Pass Run.
We were about turn off to the road leading to Camp Bird..we see roadblocks and a sheriff's vehicle. She greeted us with a kind smile and told us that the road was closed until after 10am. Actually she said ' you wouldn't want to be up there, there's over a thousand crazy people running out there'. :lol:

We decide to wait until the road re opened, we drove to all the way to Ouray to hike Sneffels [-(
Weather did not call for any rain or thunderstorms so decided to go for it. Although we had rented a 4dr Rubicon, we did not drive up all the way to the upper trailhead, we questioned whether the jeep would make it further than where we were (a little bit past the outhouse). We hiked around a mile to the upper trailhead.
At the trailhead there were a handful of 4WDs.
Everybody was on their way down by the time we were going up which was around noon.

My husband used to tell me about fun times hiking in scree, I never even knew what screen was.
I got to know scree pretty well on this hike. First time hiking in scree that was also steep...ended up talus hopping (actually crawling) instead.
Going up scree is not fun (also not fun going down), especially at an incline. :o
1 step forward 2 steps back, like a sandbox. As we were going up the scree we saw a number of people stumbling down the trail (there goes my confidence :lol: ). I was going at such a glacial pace that my husband (he's done all the 14ers) felt we would not be able to get back down before we had to return the jeep.

We were about 200 ft below the saddle, I knew there was more climbing at the Lavander Col plus the V notch. It was time to turn around. Spent about 10 minutes admiring the views of the lake, and the surrounding peaks.

Certainly a strenuous hike, there were times the steepness became nerve wracking. We will return! (and we did the following week lol).
9.05 mi • 0 ft aeg
Apparently a bowl of granola clusters is not enough fuel for this hike. :( (hiked Bear Creek Falls the day before)

No other cars at the trailhead at Pandora Mill. We started all the way at the bottom but the true trailhead to Ajax Peak is at the top of Black Bear pass (between the mining cables there is a small cairn on the left side). I think it is just a 2.5 mile hike from the cairn to the top of Ajax Peak. A 4 x4 could make it up to the top of Bridal Veil falls, you could also start there to go up Ajax Peak. Do not miss the swing (duct taped) amongst the mining cables, decided to play safe and not try it.

The hike is pretty easy going up until the top of Bridal Veil falls. We severely underestimated the difficulty of Black Bear Pass. Those switchbacks were no joke with some steepness and slick to them, realized this especially on the way down.

Very little trail traffic going up when we started, saw only 2 other groups of hikers on our way up. Going down was super busy, a line of slowly trickling jeeps going down Black Bear Pass (dusty cookie anyone?).
The views (and evidently the hike going up) are quite breathtaking. Saw a skiddish marmot on the way up.
The path going up Ajax after the official trailhead was well groomed, lined by colorful wildflowers.
As you go higher you could see Silver Lake, Mt. Wilson, El Diente and Wilson Peak (see you in 2017!).
Less strong force of the water fall at Bridal Veil this time of the year, also less water to cross at Ingram Falls (near Black Bear Mill).

The trail is actually more gentle after Black Bear Pass. Switchbacks were well groomed and not rocky.
My partner however ran out of gas about 700 ft from the summit, I decided to turn around with him.
Still an awesome hike!!! Will absolutely make it to the top next year. :y:
6.44 mi • 3,066 ft aeg
Outstanding hike through lush wildflowers, fantastic rock formations and over diverse and sometimes very difficult trails. We went up the Southwest Ridge and came down the standard route. The Southwest Ridge is an adventure because of the constant scrambling up and down all the way to the top. The way down is also a challenging scramble and the slip and slide down the loose scree will not be quickly forgotten. We parked pretty far down the road, so don't use my statistics for a start at the lower trialhead. However, even if you start from the upper trailhead, this is not a hike to be taken lightly. Espect a full day and have some ibuprophen ready when you get back to your car.

The views are incredible in every direction. I would like to hike up from East Dallas sometime along the beautiful Blue Lakes. From the top, you can see the ski slopes at Telluride. Highly recommend this 14er, but it is second most difficult one of the 13 I have done (right after Long's Peak). Eat your wheaties.
6.52 mi • 3,571 ft aeg
This amazing little wilderness area was our final stop in our short car camping tour of Colorado. I knew zero about the area, but came across it while buying some fuel at a sportsman store in Gunnison. We were looking at Nat Geo maps for Colorado and searching for ideas of what to do next when we noticed a map for the funny sounding wilderness area. Intrigued by the name and area, we bought the map on the spot and made that our final destination.

However, getting there was a small adventure. From a quick glance at the map it appeared Telluride was the nearest town to Mount Sneffles, so we plugged the mountain town into google maps and were on our way. Telluride did prove to be the closest town to Mount Sneffles, in fact, it is only 4.5 miles from the summit as the crow flies. Unfortunately, there is no real vehicle access from Telluride and we found ourselves on the complete opposite side of the mountain range and two hours from Ouray the town that Sneffles is reached from. Telluride ended up being a cool detour and I would recommend a visit to the town if in the area, however, it did add a couple hours to our drive, but all we could do was laugh at our error.

Despite silent objections and a little stress from the passenger, we were able to make it all the way to the top TH of Yankee Boy Basin. In my passenger's defense, the road up may have been one of the most aggressive and difficult roads I have driven, but the reward was an amazing car camping spot at 12,200 feet. I could not get over it, I had driven up to and we were camping at an elevation of just a few hundred feet below Humphreys! We enjoyed a simply amazing night on the tundra and woke up early the next day for an attempt at Sneffles and possibly a trip down to the Blue Lakes afterwards.

The first thing we noticed was the sign at the TH saying the peak was not dog friendly. We decided we would play it by ear, not knowing that it would be the snow that would end up being our biggest obstacle to the summit. Other than flipping open a map, I really did zero research on this one. Nevertheless, we continued on to the short but extremely steep climb to the saddle (13,600 feet) that offers the final route up Sneffles. The dogs did just fine for this part, but I knew it was the final chute that would prove to be the most difficult, so I was not getting overly excited about reaching the summit. About half way up, I passed two guys wearing helmets, carrying ice axes and traction. Both asked me if I had any traction or poles. I said yes on poles, but they are in the car and no on traction. The one guy laughed and said well there is a 35 yard snow field that needs to be negotiated to reach the summit and its "bullet proof" hard. He said I might be able to make it, but others were turning around.

When I reached the saddle, I was surprised to see it was as bad looking and as nasty as the guy had described. I told Jackie it probably was not for her and definitely not for the dogs, but I was giving it a shot. So armed with a stick and about a 15 inch piece of pointed wood that I had found by the pure luck on the way up I took off up the boulder strewn chute to the snow field guarding the top. I met a girl who dejected explained that her boyfriend had turned her around and told her she was not going up. I told her that I was not in the habit of climbing up to 13,900 feet and turning around and they were welcome to share my sticks and follow me. The boyfriend said no way and started making his way down, but surprisingly she was game. I started kicking out one icy foothold after another and switching off with our "ice" sticks until we finally cleared the field. For future reference it takes like ten kicks to carve out a good foothold in "bullet proof" snow and this was a very tiring process. But we made it and after a borderline class three scramble and a wrong turn we were on the top! I know I sound redundant, but amazing views yet again. The views coupled with the challenge in making it to the top, immediately vaulted this one to the top of my short 14er list. Number nine on the trip and perhaps the best. From the summit, it was clear why the poor girl wanted to make it to the top so badly, she had her own sign made and everything, so we took a couple photos for each other and headed back down. Although, she was a little disappointed because her boyfriend was carrying their two summit brews, oops.

There was a little more traffic in the chute on our way back and a ray of sunlight was now on the snow, making it much more manageable. However, the majority of hikers were still wearing traction or carrying an ax, or poles at the very least. I found a nice run along the wall of the chute and threw the sticks back to my new summit partner and did not see her again. Jackie was with the BF and I told her his girl made it, which did not surprise him, but he had no regrets not going up. Jackie was a little disappointed, but I put it into perspective for her. I said at the end of the day, you still climbed a thousand feet higher than anyone in the state of Arizona can climb today and that there was no shame in hanging out at 13,600 while I finish off a peak. She liked the little analogy and we both headed down pretty satisfied with the first hike of our day.

From the summit, I could very clearly see the amazing Blue Lakes that were just a name on our map the day before. I knew right there, that we had to go see them and that is where we headed after slipping and sliding down the chute that served as the main route to the saddle.

The Blue Lakes were absolutely amazing and the views heading down into them almost other-worldy. Other than the additional AEG we enjoyed the area thoroughly and it certainly lived up to some of the hype we had read about the area after the fact. For example, some consider Mount Sneffles to be the most beautiful mountain in Colorado and it is perhaps its most photographed. There was also a reference to Mount Sneffles belonging to a stretch of the San Juan mountains that is sometimes referred to as America's Switzerland. I have never been to Switzerland, but I can attest to it being one of the most scenic areas I have visited and probably equal to some areas in the Sierra Nevada. Just an amazing area and a great cap to my three weeks in Colorado.

Our only regret was not making it down to the final Blue Lake, which from the summit was clearly the most picturesque, but it simply was not in the cards. I had already led Jackie and the dogs up to a nearly 14,000 foot saddle only to drop down them down two thousand feet so they can make another climb to the 12,900 feet Blue Lakes Pass, this was followed by another 2000 foot drop to the first of the three Blue Lakes that would inevitably be followed by an eventual climb out. Not daring to suggest we drop a few more hundred feet and another mile, or so to the final Blue Lake, we headed back after a picture perfect lunch along the lake with the pups.

The climb out was not that and we were happy to make it back to the car after maybe the toughest little six mile hike I have did in awhile. From the car it was the nerve racking trip back down the old mining road to semi-decent road and eventually the very scenic 550 all the way to Durango.

Wildflowers
Simply put....a flower lovers paradise above the treeline..
5.53 mi • 1,917 ft aeg
Hiked all the way to the top of the falls. It was my first time in Colorado and what a trip it was!
There were not other cars at the trailhead, we parked at the bottom (sedan) but jeeps can make it all the way top of the falls (then jeep traffic is one way). It's a climb all the way to the top, switchbacks took the wind out of me. :scared: It was a little bit drizzly in the morning,they called for more rain that day.
Spectacular views of Telluride at the top of the falls, met one other hiker who said that there are more trails beyond that point. I would say this is a must do if you're in Telluride. (also grab some cookies at Baked in Telluride after). :y:
3.65 mi • 1,252 ft aeg
Great views of Telluride and the surrounding peaks, and some nice aspen groves. Close to town and relatively easy, so it seems to be a popular loop hike. Shauna and I started under dark skies and a light, misting rain, up a muddy trail on a mountainside. We did a counter clockwise loop starting from the trailhead on upper Aspen Street. Stopped for lunch on Cornet Creek, where the sun finally peeked out. I could hear Cornet Falls but could not see it. The trail ends at the Tomboy Road, which we followed back to our vehicle. Nice hike with great scenery.
41.75 mi • 2,000 ft aeg
Colorado Fall Colours - Sep2015
Colorado Fall Colours - September 2015
Making an attempt this time at combining business with pleasure with my Team making a presentation and "ask" from our R&D Council meeting in Boulder CO followed by a Life Sciences Investor Conference in Vail CO that alternates between Arizona and Colorado :next: https://www.azbio.org/white-hat-investors-2016 Given the time of year in the Rocky Mountains, we were hoping to find some fall colours. Also wanted a chance to check out Independence Pass :next: [ Independence Pass ]

Ahwatukee AZ to Boulder CO is 894 miles, 13 hrs, 9 min per Google Maps
Boulder CO to Vail CO is 107 miles, 1 hrs, 58 min per Google Maps
Vail CO to Ahwatukee home is 761 miles, 12 hrs, 30 min via Durango

Itinerary goes here...

Colorado – September 2015
Saturday 9/19 – prep day…

Sunday 9/20 – BEST WESTERN PLUS Boulder Inn, 770 28th Street, Boulder, CO, Phone: 303/449-3800 – confirmation number 515929770, King 400 sqft Master Suite Pet Friendly Patio Room. Drive from home to Boulder CO is 894 miles via Santa Fe NM, 13 hrs 9 min per Google Maps

Monday 9/21 – BEST WESTERN PLUS Boulder Inn, Boulder CO – explore Boulder and surrounding mountains :next: [ photo ] Reservations Sunday to Wednesday.

Tuesday 9/22 – BEST WESTERN PLUS Boulder Inn, Boulder CO – explore Boulder and surrounding mountains :next: [ photo ] Reservations Sunday to Wednesday.

Wednesday 9/23 – ANTLERS at VAIL RESORT, 680 Lionshead Place, Vail, CO 81657 USA, (970)476-2471 - confirmation number 153442. 1 Bed Room condo, pet friendly condo https://www.antlersvail.com Morning presentation to R&D Council @ legacy Covidien facility in Boulder CO. Evening reception at Vail Marriott Lionshead Village, 715 West Lionshead Circle, Vail CO. Boulder Inn to Antlers at Vail Resort is 107 miles via Golden CO, 1 hr 58 min per Google Maps.

Thursday 9/24 – ANTLERS at VAIL RESORT. Rocky Mountain Life Sciences Ventures @ Vail Marriott Lionshead Village Resort. https://cobioscience.site-ym.com/events ... ?id=593660 Registration ID: 5004146

Friday 9/25 – ANTLERS at VAIL RESORT – explore day

Saturday 9/26 – check out ANTLERS, Vail CO – drive home is 761 miles via Telluride CO, 12 hrs 30 min per Google Maps

Sunday 9/27 – recover at home…

Sunday September 20th - Ahwatukee to Boulder CO
Fitbit distance = 2.47 miles, 150 AEG (15 floors)
Made an early morning getaway via AZ87 to Payson and Holbrook to pick up the I-40. Missed my planned turn at Laguna Pueblo to capture a couple of images (HAZ Hike :next: [ Laguna Pueblo/Mission View Point ] ) so we pushed onto Albuquerque NM for our leg-stretcher break. Helped a stranded motorist near Las Vegas NM – clogged air filter! Karma fulfilled, had our Antelope herds appear on cue to usher in the New Mexico sunset…
Couldn’t get a “dog friendly” cottage reserved at Chautauqua this time :next: https://www.chautauqua.com/, so resorted to “plan B” using the Boulder Best Western Plus as base camp.

HAZ hikes
1. Fort Union National Monument NM :next: [ Fort Union National Monument ]
2. Wagon Mound NM :next: [ Wagon Mound ]
3. Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge NM :next: [ Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge ]
Monday September 21st – Boulder CO and Surrounding Area
Fitbit distance = 7.37 miles, 410 AEG (41 floors)
Quest for some local Fall Colours – explore Flatirons and travel up Flagstaff Road to Gross Reservoir and onto Nederland and Brainard Lake area in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and Roosevelt National Forest…

HAZ hikes
1. Chautauqua / Bluebell Mesa CO :next: [ Chautauqua / Bluebell Mesa ]
2. Royal Arch Trail CO :next: [ Royal Arch from Enchanted Mesa TH ]
3. Flatirons 1 & 2 CO :next: [ Flatirons 1 & 2 - Boulder Mountain Park ]
4. Panorama Point CO :next: [ Panorama Point ]
5. Meyer Homestead CO :next: [ Meyer Homestead ]
6. Gross Reservoir CO :next: [ Gross Reservoir ]
7. Barker Reservoir CO :next: [ Barker Reservoir ]
8. Brainard Lake Loop Trail :next: [ Brainard Lake Loop Trail ]
9. Long Lake - Jean Lunning Loop Trail :next: [ Long Lake - Jean Lunning Loop Trail ]
10. Jean Lunning Trail :next: [ Jean Luning Trail ]
11. Lake Isabelle Trail :next: [ Lake Isabelle ]
12. Red Rock Lake Trail :next: [ Red Rock Lake Trail ]
13. Boulder Canyon Trails :next: [ Boulder Canyon / Creek Trails ]
Tuesday September 22nd – Boulder CO and Surrounding Area
Fitbit distance = 5.82 miles, 530 AEG (53 floors)
Early morning stroll at Chautauqua. Good laugh seeing Chryssie take on all the squirrels. Dry run with my Team before heading the Avery Brewery for dinner.

HAZ hikes
1. Chautauqua / Bluebell Mesa CO :next: [ Chautauqua / Bluebell Mesa ]
Wednesday September 23rd - Boulder CO to Vail CO via Nederland CO
Fitbit distance = 5.16 miles, 180 AEG (18 floors)
Team made our presentation to the R&D Council and I headed back to our Boulder base camp to hit the road to Vail CO. Checked into our next base camp at the Antlers Resort and headed to the Rocky Mountain Life Sciences Investor Conference reception…

HAZ hikes
1. none
Thursday September 24th – Vail CO
Fitbit distance = 5.53 miles, 70 AEG (70 floors)
All day at the Rocky Mountain Life Sciences Investor Conference…

HAZ hikes
1. Eagles Loop Trail :next: [ Eagles Loop Trail ]
Friday September 25th – Vail CO to Minturn to Leadville to Aspen to Glenwood Springs to Vail CO
Fitbit distance = 10.66 miles, 490 AEG (49 floors)
Enjoyed many Colorado Rocky Mountain mini-treks, but the hi-lite was Independence Pass...

HAZ hikes
1. Camp Hale Ruins :next: [ Camp Hale Ruins ]
2. Tennessee Pass :next: [ Tennessee Pass to Hagerman Pass Road - CT #9 ]
3. Twin Lakes Reservoir :next: [ Twin Lakes Reservoir & Colorado Trail ]
4. Independence Pass :next: [ Independence Pass ]
5. Independence Ghost Town :next: [ Independence Ghost Town ]
6. Hanging Lake :next: [ Hanging Lake ]
Saturday September 26th Vail CO to Durango CO to Ahwatukee AZ
Fitbit distance = 4.74 miles, 170 AEG (17 floors)
Primo Fall Colours providing eye-candy all along the route home...

HAZ hikes
1. Crystal Lake CO :next: [ Crystal Lake ]
2. Molas Lake CO :next: [ Molas Lake ]
TOTALS
Sunday 9/20 = 2.47 miles, 150 AEG
Monday 9/21 = 7.37 miles, 410 AEG
Tuesday 9/22 = 5.82 miles, 530 AEG
Wednesday 9/23 = 5.16 miles, 180 AEG
Thursday 9/24 = 5.53 miles, 70 AEG
Friday 9/25 = 10.66 miles, 490 AEG
Saturday 9/26 = 4.74 miles, 170 AEG
TOTAL = 41.75 miles, 2000 AEG
233 iPhone photos
142 Canon 7D photos
298 Canon 6D photos
171 Canon Rebel XT photos
TOTAL = 844 photos
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