Beaver/Belfast Mine

The Ironton trails begin 7 miles south of Ouray on US 550; parking for Crystal Lake trailhead at the northern end of the Ironton valley is on the left, south of the St. Germain Foundation stone building. Go further south .9 mile to the Larson Brothers mine. Park there. The trailhead is on the right.

A short morning's trip, the trail features an historic display, ample parking and views of the Ironton valley and mining structures framed by three Red Mountains. The .4 mile path begins to the west across a mine dump just past the Mears Historic Trail, then heads southwest to the crumbling mine and a good view across Ironton park.


Blaine Basin - #203

Click on pictures to enlarge

Building a Bridge
across Wilson Creek

Crossing Wilson Creek on the Trail

Blaine Basin from Wilson Trail
Mt. Sneffels

The Blaine Basin Trail is accessed from the West Dallas trailhead, which shares a trailhead with the Blue Lakes Trail off the East Dallas Road. On Highway 62, going west out of Ridgway, turn left on the East Dallas Creek road and drive 8.8 miles, past Willow Swamp and the National Forest boundary to a locked gate. Park there. To access the Dallas Trail, keep going straight at the point where the Blue Lakes Trail branches off to the right. At 2.1 miles, shortly after making sharp left turn away from the creek, you will find the Blaine trailhead.

Blaine Basin offers spectacular views of the north face of Mount Sneffels, Kismet and Cirque Mountain. Much of the way to the Basin is at an easy grade through forest, partly along Wilson Creek. The round trip is 6.4 miles with an altitude gain of 1,400 feet.

Going south from the junction with the Blue Lakes Trail, the Dallas route crosses East Dallas Creek on an old bridge and goes uphill to the left. Staying to the left at two side roads, you will cross Wilson Creek a mile from the trailhead. Just before reaching the creek, take the trail going up to the right and then down to a crossing on two logs. Go right at the junction beyond the creek. At 1.6 miles, the next crossing of Wilson Creek requires greater caution. After this crossing, watch for a big boulder on the left--at this point, you will get a splendid view of a high waterfall ahead.

The final crossing of Wilson Creek comes at 1.9 miles. After a sharp left turn away from the creek at 2.1 miles, the trail passes a cairn on the left marking the Dallas Trail; keep straight for Blaine. The trail now gets steeper at times, but the grand panorama of the Basin opens up before you at 3.0 miles. Switchbacks visible ahead are a portion of trail still heading to the upper basin. Surrounding peaks, clockwise, are Cirque Mountain, Kismet, Mount Sneffels, and Blaine Peak.

The stream crossing on this trail can be tricky, especially during times of high runoff. In the Basin, weather changes may come rapidly from the ridges around you. Be prepared to leave quickly from exposed areas. A reminder: Entering mines is hazardous; rockfalls and low oxygen in the air can be fatal.


Blue Lakes - #201

Lower Blue Lake

Lower Blue Lake from Above
Photos by A. Gegauff

Another View by
Peggy Spindler

Middle Blue Lake

Upper Blue Lake
Photos above courtesy
of Anthony Gegauff

Blue Lakes Trailhead
In Yankee Boy Basin

Mike and Sandi MacLeod
At Blue Lakes Pass

TRAILHEAD (East Dallas):
The Blue Lakes Trail and the Blaine Basin Trail have a shared trailhead off the East Dallas Road. A second trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin is described below. Park near the locked gate beyond the National Forest boundary. At the trail register, 75 yards from the gate, the trail goes uphill to the right.

The lower Lake is a rewarding destination for a day hike of 6.6 miles, round trip with an altitude gain of 1,600 feet. The trail leads into the Mount Sneffels Wilderness, which is not accessible to motorized vehicles or to bicycles. You will get early views of the cascades in Dallas Creek and glimpses of Mt. Sneffels; later, Wolcott Mountain becomes prominent ahead.

Hiking all the way to the Blue Lakes Pass is a round trip of 11.5 miles with an altitude gain of 3,600 feet. From there is it 2.0 miles to the trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin. More information about the Wilderness can be found on the Hiking Trails of Ouray County map and guide. If you are camping, take a stove--do not cut wood!

TRAILHEAD (Yankee Boy Basin):
Take the Camp Bird Road (CR 361) south of Ouray to near the Camp Bird mine. Stay right at the turnoff for the Camp Bird Mine. It is not advisable for large cars to go beyond this point, and there may be large rocks on the road. 4WD is recommended. The road to Imogene Pass goes left 0.6 mile from Camp Bird. Soon, ahead to your left, you wil see the ruins of the Atlas Mill; across from it is space for parking beside the road. This is a good stopping place for cars with two-wheel drive. At a fork 2.2 miles from Camp Bird, the road to Yankee Boy Basin goes right; Governor Basin is to the left. The road beyond is safe only with high-clearance 4WD vehicles.

If you are driving beyond the fork, parking spaces can be found after about 0.8 mile. A toilet facility is located there. Farther on, parking is possible along several side roads or spurs. This land is fragile--please park only on firm bare ground to avoid loss of plants and flowers.

At about 0.5 mile beyond the toilet facility is the last side road going left (south), and the road begins a steady climb. After 0.3 mile, the road may be closed to vehicles by a chain, depending on the season and road conditions ahead. There is a turnaround just before the closure.

Yankee Boy Basin is renowned for its wildflower displays and alpine vistas. The two branches of the Blue Lakes Trail take you up to Blue Lake Pass at 13,000 feet, where views of the three lakes and surrounding mountains are magnificent.

From the last side road, it is 0.45 mile to a junction where you choose between the trail straight ahead or the road switchbacking right. The trail is more scenic, going past flower-covered slopes up to Wright's Lake, this trail joins the branch from the road in 1.2 miles; then it is 0.4 mile to the Pass. When you approach the open area at a cabin site above the lake, follow the road down by the lake to a cairn where the trail goes left.

Be prepared for rapid changes in weather in this high basin. Often you cannot see a storm coming until the last minute. It is a big area; do not let people in your group wander off out of sight.

Sneffels Panarama Approaching
Blue Lakes Trailhead

Photo Courtesy of Brian Williams

Jill Parisi and Companion at Blue Lakes Pass



Lower Cascade Trail and Falls | Amphitheater/Cascade Tie | Fifth Avenue/Cascade Tie
Portland/Cascade Tie | Upper Cascade and Chief Ouray Mine

Lower Cascade Falls

Lower Cascade Trail and Falls - #255

This trail is accessed from the east end of 8th Avenue in Ouray. Parking space is available there.

A short, 0.2 mile walk from the parking area provides a spectacular view of the pink cliffs and Cascade Falls, a favorite local haunt featuring footpaths and informative signs on both sides of the creek. Halfway to the falls, the Lower Cascade Trail climbs steeply to the right to the Amphitheater Road just above Na Gach picnic area. To the picnic area and back is only one mile, with an altitude gain of 450 feet. Along the way, Ouray spreads out below the hill; Whitehouse and U.S. Mountain dominate the western horizon.

The Amphitheater/Cascade Trail Tie

This trail begins on the south side of the Amphitheater Campground cul-de-sac. From the campground, go 0.2 mile and turn left at the first junction; then turn left at the second junction for the steeper portion of the hike. Go to Upper Cascade and Chief Ouray Mine for information on the rest of the trail.

Fifth Avenue/Cascade Trail Tie

A longer walk-in trailhead begins at the east end of 5th Avenue in Ouray. (Please respect the private property at the beginning of this trail.) Follow this well marked trail across the Amphitheater Road to the first junction. Take the left fork to the next junction and then take the right fork. Go toUpper Cascade and Chief Ouray Mine for information on the rest of the trail.

Portland/Cascade Trail Tie

Near the end of the Portland Mine Trail, the trail forks. The right fork takes you to the Portland Mine, while the left fork takes you to another junction with the Upper Cascade Trail. Turn right at this junction to continue on the Upper Cascade Trail. Turning left will take you to the Amphitheater Campground cul-de-sac or to town via the 5th Avenue trail. Go to Upper Cascade and Chief Ouray Mine for information on the rest of the trail.

Blocking Part of the Trail which had Eroded


Ouray from Upper Cascade
Chief Ouray Mine

Ouray, with US Mountain
Up the Canyon in Background
Photos by Steve Caldwell

The Upper Cascade Falls and Chief Ouray Mine Trail - #213

The higher sections of this trail traverse cliff ledges, offering Hayden, Cañon Creek, the Sneffels Range and Twin Peaks. Lunch at the falls in a sheltered north-facing crossing is a fine experience. Beyond the falls, the trail to the Chief Ouray Mine requires due caution. The mine is at approximately 10,000 feet elevation. Preserve the buildings by not defacing or destroying any item. Round trip from the camp ground to the Chief Ouray Mine is 4.9 miles with an altitude gain of 1,560 feet.

Upper Cascade Falls



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