Paradise Basin
Difficulty Moderate
Length of hike 3,2 mi. RT
Starting Elevation 11200 ft.
Top Elevation 12000 ft.
Type of Vehicle Regular
Distance to Trailhead 31 miles
GPS track download Paradise Basin Track
Hiking time up 2:00 hours
Hiking time down 1:30 hours

Directions to Trailhead
From the Traffic light in Ridgway, drive 28 miles south on Highway 550 over Red Mountain Pass. Take the Ophir Pass road and drive 3 miles to the place where the road takes a sharp turn to the right. Find a parking spot at the switchback.





Paradise Basin may have the most prestigious name in the entire area, but one could argue easily that other basins, Porphyry for example, would be more deserving. Still, this is a fine hike up to a small, nameless lake that is surrounded by towering peaks, South Lookout Peak to the west being the most dominant. A bit further up from the lake you find a small tarn. During the mining days the place must have been bustling with activity, but nowadays you only have to share it with a few marmots.


The trail starts where the Ophir road takes a sharp turn to the right, 3.0 miles from the highway, and where a short spur goes west. A small area is suitable to park a car. Do not take the obvious trail heading west, but go south down into the ravine. GPS signals are not reliable at this point, so just spot the trail leading across the ravine and climbing on the opposite side to the meadow above.

The trail is in surprisingly good shape all the way to the remains of a miner’s cabin, attesting to the heavy traffic during the mining days. The remnants of a stove, ceramics, and a boot are still there. Numerous tracks lead from the cabin site to the old mines across Mineral Creek.


From the location of the cabin to the lake and the tarn above, you are hiking on animal tracks. If you find a passable trail through the brushy area above the cabin site, just follow it without paying too much attention to the GPS track. The meadow above makes for easy cross-country hiking to the small lake where the Middle Fork of Mineral Creek originates, and to the tarn above. You may spot quite a few cairns, laboriously erected by hikers who, in the era of GPS and GLONASS, prefer to do things the old fashioned way. During wildflower season, flowers are prolific in the area north of the lake. To the south rises the ridge that towers over Clear Lake, and which can be climbed from the south as described on the Clear Lake hike. .