Hike to gorgeous lakes set amid scenic alpine meadows with terrific views. An optional extension follows a segment of the Continental Divide turning this hike into a loop with extended views of the surrounding peaks.
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- Distance: 6.0 miles (round trip) to Highland Mary Lakes
7.7 miles (loop) to Continental Divide extension
- Elevation: 10,790-ft. at Trailhead
12,320-ft. at Highland Mary Lakes
12,580-ft. at Continental Divide extension
- Elevation Gain: 1,530-ft. to Highland Mary Lakes
1,790-ft. to Continental Divide extension
- Difficulty: moderate-strenuous
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Silverton / Ouray / Southwest Colorado
Why Hike Highland Mary Lakes
Reaching the spectacular high alpine tundra of the Weminuche Wilderness usually requires a multi-day backpacking trip. The Highland Mary Lakes trail is an exception, providing day hikers quick access to this alpine wonderland.
The hike visits three of the seven Highland Mary Lakes as well as the Verde Lakes, all above 12,000-ft. Getting to the lakes basin requires a bit of effort. The trail climbs through a diverse landscape of forest and meadows interspersed with picturesque waterfalls to reach the high lakes plateau, gaining over 1,300-ft. in 1.7 miles.
Atop the plateau hikers are greeted with breathtaking views of the glistening lakes set amid a broad expanse of rolling alpine tundra. A gentle climb through the tundra leads to Verde Lakes and wonderful views of the Grenadier Range where the distinctive pyramid-shaped West Trinity, Vestal and Arrow Peaks are the stars of the show.
The hike can be done as an out-and-back or turned into a loop by following a segment of the Continental Divide Trail that features more great views of the Grenadiers along with fine views of the high peaks rising above the Deep Creek Valley. The final return leg of the loop heads down the Cunningham Gulch trail accompanied by great views of the summits ringing Spencer Basin and the Cunningham Creek valley.
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