Blaine Basin
Difficulty Strenuous
Length of hike 9.2 mi. RT
Starting Elevation 9360 ft.
Top Elevation 11440 ft.
Type of Vehicle Regular
Distance to Trailhead 13.7 miles
GPS track download Blaine Basin Track
Hiking time up 2:50 hours
Hiking time down 2:20 hours

Directions to Trailhead
The trailhead is the same as for Blue Lakes. From the traffic light in RIdgway, drive 4.9 miles on Hwy. 62 towards Telluride. Turn on Cty. Rd. 7 and continue to the trailhead for a total of 13.7 miles. Make sure to stay on Cty. Rd. 7, not 7A.


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The Blaine Basin trail is well maintained by the Ouray Trail Group, dispensing with any need for guidance. However, there are some off trail excursions well worth taking, and for that a GPS track is quite useful.

You get an impressive view of Wilson Creek tumbling down about 250 feet just before the gentle grade of the trail starts to get steeper, climbing to the lower basin. At that point, a short excursion leads to the ruins of a miner’s cabin with the partially collapsed portal of the mine just behind it. The miners must have enjoyed hydroelectric power, as you might surmise from finding an iron pipe further up. As you emerge from the spruce forest, Mt. Sneffels, Cirque Mountain, Blaine Peak, and an abundance of flowers in the lower basin greet you.


Continuing up to the upper basin is a must since the flowers in the meadow along the many tributaries to Wilson Creek are simply spectacular. A short excursion from this place takes you to another mine with some abandoned equipment at the portal, and a late season climb further up may reveal a veritable garden of Columbines clinging to the slope of Mt. Sneffels. The flowers are so dense that they crowd out other plants.


Returning from the lower basin you can follow Wilson Creek to the top of the waterfall. Along the way you come across an iron pipe that taps the creek and probably used to bring water down to the mine. It’s quite reasonable to assume that the miners used the significant drop from here down to the mine, about 300 feet, to drive a turbine for power generation. Returning from the waterfall back to the trail through the dense forest could be quite exciting for hikers with a poor sense of direction. It’s an opportunity to develop trust in your GPS device.