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Backpacking: Colorado > Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests > Cebolla Ranger District

Quick Facts

Big Blue Trail

Beginning Elevation: 9,700 Feet (2957 Meters)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Gain: 2,660 Feet (829.2 Meters)
Length: 12.0 Miles (19.3 Kilometers) to the intersection with the Ridge Stock Driveway trail
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 141 Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Lake City
Recommended Season: Summer to Fall
Trail Number: 232
Usage: Heavy in Summer
USGS Maps: Sheep Mountain and Uncompahgre Peak

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

The Big Blue Trail is a major access route to the Uncompahgre Wilderness. It begins one half mile south of Big Blue Campground at approximately 9,670 feet. The trail follows Big Blue Creek for eleven miles through Engelmann spruce forest and parks to an approximate elevation of 11,440 feet. The trail splits at this point with the left fork continuing as Big Blue Trail. It leads one and a half more miles to end at the intersections with Ridge Stock Driveway, 233. Big Blue Trail offers spectacular views of peaks over 13,000 feet. The fishing in Big Blue Creek and Slide Lake is good.

Directions from Lake City: Go north toward Gunnison on Hwy 149 about 10 miles to the Alpine Forest Access Road. Take that road about 5 miles past the Alpine Plateau Road to Big Blue Campground (approximately 9 miles from the Highway). The trail begins about 1.2 miles south of the campground.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Mark
Time of Day: morning
Length of Time: 5 hrs
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We really took our time packing into Slide Lake, 5 miles up the trail, where we stayed for four days. Just head 1/2 south of Big Blue Campground and you're at the trailhead. You really can't miss the trail but the slide area that created the Slide Lake is remarkable if you're even slightly into geology. The walk in for the day would probably be three hours or less with day pack and fishing gear if you can get past the many fishing holes on the way up:-)Our surprising reward was the solitude and the fishing (Hope you like brookies)There is no bad place for lunch! South of Slide Lake are a few nice waterfalls as well.
Conditions: The trail was dry all the way for our trip with shade here and there plus a major creek crossing - We didn't run into any snowbanks until we walked another three miles up (south)from Slide Lake (Elev 11200 according to our Garmin). Mosquitos were few and sleeping weather was amazingly mild... Lots of nice little camping spots for packers near Slide Lake. Please remember to pack out your trash - We hauled out some one else's as usual but expected :-(
Water Availability: We only took four qts of water because we took our filtration system and iodine tablets with us as well as a collapsable bucket to dip water from one of the creeks that feed Slide Lake. You can pull water just about anywhere along the trail but after seeing what was swimming in it you might want to treat it first.
Recommended Clothing: We over dressed and over packed for the area thinking it would be more challenging than it was. Shorts and a jacket are fine for a day trip; couple quarts of water and lunch as well...
Suggested Accessories: Take water treatment in if you're going on an extended stay - As always, bug spray and rain gear are usually a good idea :-) We used spinners in the Blue Creek drainage with terrific success, but the mosquito fly pattern also worked well at Slide.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Big Blue Trail
ICON Cold Water Fishing Big Blue Creek
ICON Hiking & Walking Big Blue Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Big Blue Trail
ICON Stock Packing Big Blue Trail
ICON Animal Identification Big Blue Trail
ICON Bird Identification Big Blue Trail
ICON Mushroom Identification Big Blue Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Big Blue Trail
ICON Viewing Scenery Big Blue Trail

Related Activities
Fall Creek Trail - This trail provides access to the Big Blue Wilderness.

Ridge Stock Driveway Trail #233 - This crowded trail provides access to the Big Blue Wilderness, Matterhorn Peak, Wetterhorn Peak and Uncompahgre Peak.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Taylor River/Cebolla Ranger Districts, 216 North Colorado , Gunnison, CO, 81230, Phone: 970-641-0471


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