The Best Hikes in Mount Sneffels Wilderness

31 Triplog Reviews in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness
Most recent of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
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 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).
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.

Simply put....a flower lovers paradise above the treeline..
8.6 mi • 2,750 ft aeg
I hope you like flowers.
In between off-roading with the Jeep club in 2011, I planned some hikes. I wasn't disappointed then and I wasn't this time.
Last trip, I had the luxury of getting a drop-off at the Blue Lakes Pass trailhead to be picked up a day later on the other trail in from the north: [ photoset ]
This time with a one vehicle caravan, we decided on taking the Honda and doing an in and out from the north. It's always fun to come around the corner on a dirt and pothole pocked road in a low Civic to find two capable offroad trucks slow-going-it as if their suspension was use-upable like a overly-cautious Prius driver's gas. We were stuck behind them for a while and I was getting antsy to be on-trail.

We got to the packed trailhead (mostly day hikers) and started in. All I could remember from last time was the extreme switchbacks on the other Pass trail and this one being the easy option. I forgot there are some stretches of up, but nothing too bad if you aren't all packed out. Close to our goal, the skies finally opened up so we dawned our rain gear. It was good timing since the hail and harder rain came after. It settled a bit and then gave up completely once we figured out camp. I won't give away everything, but know that there is a kids-and-dogs side of the outflow creek and a quiet more romantical side. Choose wisely.

After we collected firewood, Noel settled in for a nap and I took off for the switchbacks to the upper lakes for color popping, cloud filtered wildflower pictures. Again, this year impressed more. I finally made it up to the lookout-and-over and chilled there for a while.

I came back down, we ate and campfired, and it was like we were the only ones out there. The next morning, the clouds dropped almost to our shirt collars so we hiked around the lake waiting for them to rise above the wildflowers. The dragging clouds made for some dramatic photos and again helped with the shadow filtering.

We became impatient and started up and the clouds seemed to rise with us. Noel got to see where I had been up to the day before and although I had already shot all the good wildflowers pics, she sillily insisted on taking her own.

We went on up to the upper lakes to chat with the marmots.
Once we reached the upper upper lake, the clouds dropped back down some and it looked like it could rain so we abandoned the plan to see the wildflowers on the first few switchbacks on the way to the saddle. On our way back down I gathered some dry firewood for night 2.

I should mention that an hour into night 1, my brand new sleeping pad failed. Noel had convinced me to ditch my thin hurtful Thermarest and lavish myself like I had her with her comfy air filled Agnes purchase. I was hoping for better sleep with my new one but I was on the ground every 30min with every reblow up. I finally gave up and even though Noel and I had our bags zipped together, the ground kept snuggle-robbing me of some of my heat. I reckon I'd rather wake up stiff and cold out there than wake up refreshed in this crotch-pot of desert though. I did give the company some loud words of unencouragement once I reached home.

Anyway, awesome first leg of the trip. We made it out in the morning and drove into Ouray for a burger and then on to my favorite part 2.
8.6 mi • 2,750 ft aeg
We were able to go up to Colorado to backpack a couple places Michael had gone before when he took his Jeep club up. Since we were just going to be hiking, we took the car to save gas. I have class on Fridays so we left at 1pm right after and Airbnb'd a place to stay for just after dark. The Mine Shaft Inn in Rico was beautifully quaint and they upgraded us since they were not full.
The next morning we drove the last one and half hours to the trailhead and hiked in.
Almost all the rain missed us but the clouds stuck around a good bit. It just made the wildflowers prettier :)
We hiked to the upper lakes on the second day.

Photos on the Android and 35mm Sprocket Rocket with some expired film
14.6 mi • 5,550 ft aeg
Mount Sneffels via Blue Lakes Basin
We wanted to summit a 14er. Colorado rules say you have to climb more than 3,000 ft gain to be considered a summit. So we camped at Blue Lakes trailhead. Everything we had heard about this place was spot on, it was gorgeous. The Blue Lakes trail was an amazing hike and I would recommend it to anyone. Summiting Mount Sneffels was a great reward. The skree field on our way up Sneffels made things interesting. It was the only part of the hike/climb that was not enjoyable. My friend slid about 40-50 yards down the skree field uncontrolled but escaped without injury. The walk back down Blue Lakes trail was a little rough due to tired feet. The hike overall was amazing!
31.74 mi • 2,240 ft aeg
Colorado Fall Colours 2013
Colorado Fall Colours - September 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.

Q1-2013 was the “Salt River Canyon Wilderness Trek” (check out )
Q2-2013 was the “Colorado San Juan Mountains Trek” (check out )
Q3-2013 was the “Himalayan CardioRenal Screening Project & Trek” (check out ) – still have photos from Stok Kangri Trek, Delhi, and Agra to post!

The plan was to also add a “Colorado Fall Colours” trek in Q3 using last year (check out ) for timing guidance…

Thursday 9/26
Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hrs 22 minutes to travel 455 miles from Ahwatukee to Danzl Cottage on Dolores River via Tuba City.
Any time gained leaving work at a decent time and getting on the road before 4pm was lost waiting an hour trying to climb up I-17 to sunset point (major accident closed the highway until it was cleared).
Burg in Flagstaff and on the Rez by 7pm where we were greeted by a steady rain all the way to the cottage on the Dolores River between Dolores and Telluride.
Rain on the cottage roof made for a soothing song to put us to sleep after the long drive from the Valley to the San Juan Mountains.
FITBIT data; 4.46 miles, 36 floors

Friday 9/27
I had Disappointment Valley on my radar as a nearby location known for wild horses – this isn’t a political statement, but check out BLM Disappointment Valley/Spring Creek Basin ( ) and the musical celebrity laden movie on Disappointment Valley wild horses (Watch the 12 minute “Wild Horses & Renegades” video trailer at :next: and ). Abort near Spring Creek Basin due to excessive mud! snow! and threatening rain/sleet/snow clouds...
Afternoon take West Dolores Loop for fall colours - turned out to be winter snow scene loop!
$4.64 per gallon gas in Rico - Yikes!
BBQ a couple of New York strip steaks back at Danzl Cottage FITBIT data; 6.21 miles, 19 floors (10 ft/floor)

Saturday 9/28
Plan to redux Dallas Divide, Double RL Ranch hay rolls, and onto CR7 for beaver dams and Blue Lake Trail hike. If time permits, sundown at Woods Lake.
FROSTY morning - 28 deg F according to my truck (failed to get photo evidence)
Actually start with awesome coffee in Rico at the little shack on east side of town - blows Starbucks away with a $2 cup.
Stop at Lizard Head Pass for photo op.
Stop at Sunshine scenic overlook on SR145. Aspen on Wilson Peak are still green - major let down :( :( :(
Take Lynn to Ophir - get some colours :) :) :)
Gas up in Teluride - Chrissy photo op by the Minersaur!
Stop at Last Dollar Road off of SR62 - plenty of photo ops, but too much traffic to my liking :( :( :(
Dallas Divide - still too early for optimum colours.
CR#9 and a Double R L Ranch - score! Plenty of hay rolls at southern most field. Combine and tractor pick up in action...
Off to CR#7 - an old reliable that's never failed to please.
Stop at Jason Hatfield's pond for photo recreation
Stop at beaver meadow for another photo recreation and lunch
Hike Blue Lakes Trail
Back to hay rolls on Double R L Ranch to catch long shadows
Telluride elk (are these employed by the Chamber of Commerce - they're always at this spot at sunset)
BBQ some chicken back at the cottage
FITBIT data; 7.82 miles, 79 floors

Sunday 9/29
Plan to get to Alta Lakes and Ghost Town plus Lost Dollar Road and Woods Lake redux. Maybe check out Silver Pick Road...
Start the day with another cup of awesome coffee in Rico from the "High Ground Coffee Shack". Find out the coffee beans are from Ibis in Utah - will have to check this out - they're that good...
On to Alta Ghost Town and then Alta Lakes - amazing number of trout visible in Alta Lake - and friendly ducks agreeable to Skippy...
Check out Mountain Village above Telluride
On to Woods Lake via Fall Creek Road - disappointing fall colours :( :( :(
Return via Elk Creek Road onto Wilson Mesa and loop back via Silver Pick Road - Awesome view on Hughes Road - marked this one with geocoded iPhone photo.
Ilium to Ophir Loop and back to Danzl Cottage
BBQ some split cheese dogs...
FITBIT data; 8.16 miles, 63 floors

Monday 9/30
Getaway day, close up the cottage per Danzl winterizing instructions.
Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hours 58 minutes to travel 508 miles from Danzl Cottage on the Dolores River to Ahwatukee via Gallup NM.
FITBIT data; 5.09 miles, 27 floors

211 photos on Canon 7D
323 photos on Canon Rebel XT
53 photos on iPhone 4S
587 total photos to sort thru when I get the chance...
963 miles return Ahwatukee to San Juan Mountains
Prelude to fall colours (not the peak we were planning/hoping for…)
Unexpected winter scenes more than compensate!
28 degF frosty mornings
Awesome coffee warm-up from High Ground Coffee Shack in Rico CO each morning :next: ... 4149051267
31.74 miles on FITBIT
2240 elevation gain (224 floors on FITBIT)

Sent from my iPad
3.75 mi • 1,900 ft aeg
we started at the second parking lot and about 20 mins into our hike we were able to catch a ride to the third trail head .the trail starts off really easy to follow but once you get half way up the scree slope there is no trail and you just try and fined the best route with the fewest loose rocks . once you reach the saddle you turn left and head up a steep scree chute that at the time still had some snow left in it . once I hit the snow the elevation was really starting to get to me I made it about 30 feet up the snow be for I lost my footing and slide back to the rocks at this point I decided to turn around be for I hurt my self.
6 mi • 2,800 ft aeg
It's hard to believe we did this a week ago! We met Vagabond Jeff at Ridgway State Park in Colorado after our Vestal Basin Backpack. We planned to do a couple peaks, but we figured out that we needed a bit off time to transition from backpack to car camp. So we checked out Silverton and Ouray on our way north.

We went for dinner the night before to make plans for our day in Yankee Boy Basin. Jeff had been having some sciatic nerve problems so he just planned to do as much as he could and would turn around before he caused himself any problems.

We left camp at 5:45 and was at the trailhead a bit before 7. We parked at the lower trailhead instead of the 4x4 trailhead and walked the road. It was a bit grey when we started. I pittled around taking photos as the wildflowers were out in force. As we walked the road a storm blowed in and it rained briefly. We could hear thunder in the distance. At one point we turned around and headed back to the cars. But things changed quickly and we turned back to heading up.

We reached the 4x4 TH and the weather was still questionable. So we sat around and ate some snacks. We kept seeing patches of blue followed by patches of grey/black. At some point the patches of blue were more than the patches of grey so we decided to go for it. Jeff decided he would go back to the cars since he didn't want to injure himself - wise man!

We headed up the standard route which lead to the Lavendar Col. On the way up we made a point to stay in the bigger rocks as most of them were more stable. From there we hiked up the gully which had some snow in it but we were able to climb it without any props. We watched another group use a rope to descend and we questioned whether or not we could get down. We decided we could if we downclimbed it. After the snow we had to climb through a notch that had a lot of exposure. I had Joel plug the hole for me.

From there we scrambled to the top. The views were amazing. Peaks all around. We could even see Vestal and Arrow Peaks that we did a few days ago! We also could see the ski routes at Telluride! We were so glad we didn't turn around.

On the way down we were given a tip about another way down so we went for it with a couple other pairs. During the trip down we had a bit of snow pellets but it didn't last long.

It was easy to follow the cairns and then all of a sudden not so easy. We started to down climb a gully and it turned into a class 5 wall. I even found an old rusty piton. So, we climbed back up and found the proper route.

We joined the regular route at the Col and then we headed down. The others stayed in the big stuff but we headed over to where it was mostly a scree slope and "skied" down. I was happy that we had had the experience on Vestal Peak with the landslide feeling so I was a lot more comfortable.

I was so happy we didn't turn around. It was a risk but it really paid off!

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