CO – Highlands Mary Lakes Lollipop Loop – Weminuche Wilderness, San Juan NF

The access road to this trailhead near Silverton makes this hike a bit less popular than the one to Ice Lakes. The first couple miles are mostly through forest interspersed with waterfalls. 

After climbing 1,300′, I found the first lake and wandered around two more while enjoying open alpine tundra views. I wasn’t as awestruck as I’d been when I saw Upper Ice Lake but found it enjoyable none the less.

I continued to follow the trail and/or markers up to the Verde Lakes viewpoint. 

I got teaser views of the Grenadier Range. Now those look like my kind of mountains! 

And found the Verde Lakes. I think I might like to visit the high lake to the left in photo. The topography is interesting and makes for easy off-trail exploration.

I continued climbing to connect the Highland Mary Lakes Trail #606 to the Colorado Trail (CT) / Continental Divide Trail (CDT) #813. There were occasional markers and tread but nothing clearly marked. The views became more and more WOW as I climbed. 

It’s always fun to be back on trail after spending time route finding. The CT/CDT was smooth sailing! 

Notice the HUGE cairn on the top right side of photo. I saw several along the CT/CDT. It appears these are a popular way to mark the CT although unnecessary except in snow, which can be long-lasting in the San Juans. 

To complete my loop, I transitioned from the CT/CDT to the Cunningham Gulch Trail #502

As I drove back to the main road from the trailhead, I noticed this  . . . looks to me like an old glacier???? 

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: September 20, 2017
  • Mileage (per ViewRanger): 7.5-8 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss (per ViewRanger): 2,400′
  • Elevation Low/High (per ViewRanger): 10,800′-12,900′
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: minimal
    • Overgrowth: minimal
    • Signage: moderate
    • Terrain: a few steep spots but mostly well graded switchbacks on actual trail otherwise fairly easy alpine tundra off-trail hiking; some wet and muddy sections.
  • Navigation Skills: minimal for trail sections, moderate for off-trail sections
  • Water availability: plentiful below tree line
  • Camping availability: moderate below tree line
  • Solitude: I only saw one individual fishing at one of the Highland Mary Lakes; otherwise it seemed I had the entire area to myself on the day I was there.
  • Bugs: None
  • Wildlife: None
  • Precip: None this date, but pretty windy
  • Temp: Unknown but would guess 40-50
  • LNT: Mostly excellent except at trailhead. I found a PB jar near the top of a bald.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 4+ cherries (out of 5)

Tips:

  • Dispersed camping available near trailhead, but beware of mice problems.

Links:

Resources:

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