See Colorado’s Amazing Hike to Columbine Lake in the San Juan Mountains
The summer months of July and August in Colorado can easily feature several days of triple-digit heat. Yet these are the months when conditions are most favorable for some high-altitude hikes that show off some amazing views.
This is the perfect time of year to plan an adventure high in the San Juan mountains by making the trip to Columbine Lake at 12,700 feet.
Where is the Hike to Columbine Lake?
To find the hike to Columbine Lake in the San Juans you'll need to head down the Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Silverton. On the way, you'll see a turn-off for Colorado 820. The parking area by the bridge is a good spot to lock up your vehicle. The trip from Grand Junction to the trailhead is about 120 miles.
What is the Elevation of Columbine Lake?
Columbine Lake sits at 12,700 feet. This 8.5-mile hike (round trip) features almost 3000 feet of elevation gain with the hardest part of the hike over the first 2.5 miles before you enter the mountain meadows. You'll want to start out early in the day so that you reach Columbine Lake by Noon. This way if you are going to head back down you can do so before the mid-afternoon storms develop.
Is Camping Allowed at Columbine Lake?
For sure! Camping must be done 100 feet from the lake or the surrounding streams. Pets should remain on a leash at all times. Campfires must be set up 100 feet from the lake or streams, and if you do camp you are asked to move your campsite every 48 hours to protect the tundra at this elevation.
Scroll on to see photos of this must-see hiking trail below.