A great hike to pretty lakes set amid scenic alpine meadows with wonderful views. An optional extension following a short section of the Continental Divide turns this out and back trail into a loop hike with extended views of the surrounding area.
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- Distance: 6.6 miles (round trip) to Highland Mary Lakes
7.8 miles (loop) to Continental Divide extension
- Elevation: 10,750-ft. at Trailhead
12,310-ft. at Highland Mary Lakes
12,630-ft. at Continental Divide extension
- Elevation Gain: 1,560-ft. to Highland Mary Lakes
1,880-ft. to Continental Divide extension
- Difficulty: moderate-strenuous
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Silverton / Ouray / Southwest Colorado
Why Hike Highland Mary Lakes
Reaching the trails traversing 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 over 1,300-ft. in 2 miles through a diverse landscape of trees, willows and meadows interspersed with picturesque waterfalls to reach the high lakes plateau.
Upon arriving at the Highland Mary Lakes hikers are greeted with breathtaking views of the glistening lakes set amid a broad expanse of rolling sub-alpine tundra. A gentle climb through the tundra leads to Verde Lakes and wonderful views of the Grenadier Range punctuated by the distinctive pyramid-shaped Vestal and Arrow Peaks.
The hike can be done as an out-and-back or turned into a loop by following a short section of the Continental Divide Trail with extended views of the surrounding area.
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