This hike gives you "Mother Nature" at her best. Great views, great exercise, summer at the bottom & winter at the top (June 19 = snow remaining & the lake mostly frozen). It did lack wildlife.
If your not very fit (i.e. not used to the altitude & elevation gain, this is a tough hike - but doable). If you're fit, this is a great hike (not very technical) for it's distance, scenery & quality of exercise.
We (wife & I) were not very "physically fit". We took 3 hours to ascend the trail (not including a half hour snack & rest break). We came down in about 2.5 hrs. The views are amazing with many mountains, streams, waterfalls and plenty of flora (very little wildlife). The 1st half of the hike had quite a bit of shade; but the 2nd half did not have any; so remember hat, sunglasses, sunscreen & drinking water
- go 2 miles north of SIlverton, CO on Hwy 550 (towards Ouray, CO) and turn left onto County Rd. 7 (heading to South Mineral Campgrounds)
- go approx. 4 miles on Co. Rd. 7 and the trailhead parking is on the right (the parking lot & trailhead are well marked/labelled) directly across the road from a campground
- the trail gains approx. 3000 ft in elevation (approx. 9,000 to 12,000) over 3.5 miles (7 to 7.5 miles round-trip)
- there are no outhouses/restrooms to use on the trail. These facilities are available in the campground right across the street from the trailhead parking.
- there are no formal campgrounds on the trail; but there are many places for primitive camping (we think backpacking up there would be fun)
- water - I do not no the quality/safeness of the water; but there are many running streams along the trail
For the most part the trail was well marked; but we did use the comments/directions/waypoints in this link
( http://bicycling.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/515724 )
and they were very helpful (especially on any tricky parts).
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