San Juan Triangle | Monday, July 3, 2023
After cutting our backpacking trip into the Flat Tops Wilderness short this past weekend, I decided to head down near Ouray on Monday morning to get in a little more hiking before the Fourth of July holiday since I definitely need to start getting back into shape and hiking at higher elevations again. For this day trip I planned to focus my attention on the Ironton Park area and hike one of the trails that climbs up to the shoulder of Hayden Mountain. I woke up extra early on Monday morning, grabbed a quick breakfast on the way and made it to Crystal Lake just after 7:00am so I could start hiking up the south side of the Hayden Trail.
The Hayden Trail starts near Crystal Lake which is a popular stop along the Million Dollar Highway.
Crystal Lake and the Red Mountains
Here’s a closer look at Red Mountain #2 and #3.
After hiking up through the trees for a while with limited views, I eventually broke out into the splendor of the alpine tundra.
It felt great to be hiking above treeline again, although my lungs would probably disagree…
The landscape became more rugged as I reached the highpoint of the trail.
I turned around shortly after the highest point of the trail and returned the same way I had come.
Hayden Trail Pass
Making my way back across the large snowfield.
An upper section of the Hayden Trail.
The views were great on the way back with Brown Mountain, the Red Mountains, Gray Copper Gulch and Ironton Park all visible in front of me.
Descending back down the Hayden Trail.
Looking up one other snow chute that I had to cross on the trail.
After returning to my Jeep I thought I might try another longer hike, but my legs were having none of that today, so I settled on a short walk from Ironton over to the Colorado Boy Mine. Although I have seen this mine from the road many times, I had never actually hiked over for a closer look.
Here’s an unnamed peak on the opposite side of the valley that was visible as I followed the Colorado Boy Trail.
After a short walk I soon reached the Colorado Boy.
The interior of the Colorado Boy.
Looking straight down the deep vertical mine shaft.
The Colorado Boy
On the way back to my Jeep I wandered around a couple of the other buildings still standing in Ironton since it’s been quite a while since I last visited. Afterwards I headed back home and was happy to be leaving since Ouray was very busy!