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Bridal Veil Basin: Blue Lake and the Lewis Mill

Mountains of Minerals | Friday & Saturday, August 4-5, 2023

Since I spent last weekend at the very southern end of the San Juan Mountains I decided to stay a little closer to home this weekend and hike at the northern end of the range in the headwaters of the San Miguel River. Although I usually try to avoid Telluride, there are still a number of trails surrounding the town that I would like to hike, so I figured that it’s time to start checking some of them out- beginning with a hike into Bridal Veil Basin. After spending most of the day Friday on the Grand Mesa for work, I briefly returned to the office, grabbed a quick dinner on my way out of town and then headed south into the San Juan Mountains.

After crossing the Dallas Divide and following the San Miguel River, I drove up the Silver Pick Road to find a campsite for the night and stopped along the way for a photo of Wilson Peak.

Wilson Peak

While I am used to dealing with mosquitoes, flies and even gnats in the backcountry, this campsite seemed to be infested with moths. They were everywhere! I’ve never seen anything like it before. After reading for a while I went to bed early.

I woke up extra early on Saturday morning so I could get through Telluride and find a parking spot near the trailhead before things started to get busy in town, which turned out to be a good plan since parking was a mess when I returned to my Jeep in the early afternoon and had to drive back down the switchbacks.

Overlooking Telluride at dawn as I started hiking towards the Bridal Veil Powerhouse.

Telluride at Dawn

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

There were a number of waterfalls along the lower portion of the trail, but this was the only one that was easy to get a good photo of.

Bridal Veil Creek Waterfall

I was originally planning to head up to Lewis Lake first and then return to Blue Lake on my way back, but I wasn’t paying attention to the map and started following the trail up to Blue Lake first and by the time I realized my mistake I had already climbed a couple hundred feet and didn’t want to turn around, so I reversed the plans.

Blue Lake Point

The trail passed by an old mining shack that contained this large winch.

Big Winch

Wasatch Mountain

Wasatch Mountain

These mining buildings were located just below Blue Lake. There was a lot of water pipes like those in the background scattered throughout Bridal Veil Basin.

Mine Buildings & Water Pipe

Blue Lake was still in the shadows when I arrived.

Blue Lake

Blue Lake Reflection

Blue Lake Reflection

On my way to the Lewis Mill I passed by the buildings just below Blue Lake and got a closer look.

Mine Building

While I was able to follow an old mining track most of the way, I did have to find a route cross-country to connect back up with the Lewis Lake Trail.

La Junta Peak Reflection

The scenery of upper Bridal Veil Basin reminded me of Porphyry Basin and the other basins of Mineral Creek on the other side of the ridge, which makes sense…

Upper Bridal Veil Basin

Upper Creek View

Upper Basin View

It wasn’t much further until I caught my first view of the massive Lewis Mill.

Lewis Mine Mill

Lewis Mill

Mill View

Bridal Veil Creek

Bridal Veil Creek

I hiked up past the mill hoping to reach Lewis Lake just above, but there was too much snow across the trail that I wasn’t comfortable climbing since I didn’t have my microspikes and I decided to turn around here. There was a good overview of the Lewis Mine site below La Junta Peak.

Lewis Mine

Here’s one final view of the Lewis Mill overlooking Bridal Veil Basin with Mount Sneffels on the horizon as I started hiking back down.

Lewis Mill View

La Junta Peak

La Junta Peak

Bridal Veil Basin Views

Bridal Veil Basin

Upper Basin Tarn

Although it blends in with the higher peaks behind it, if you know where to look you can find Ajax Peak in this photo.

Ajax Peak View

Wildflowers & Clouds

Wildflowers & Clouds

Most of the trails in the basin are actually old mining tracks that are rarely used anymore since they are not open to motorized use by the public.

Two-Track Trail

Descending into lower Bridal Veil Basin. I hadn’t seen anyone for most of the hike, but started passing a bunch of people heading up during the last few miles.

Lower Bridal Veil Basin

Hiking along the old shelf road.

Shelf Road

I had to get a photo from this side of the Bridal Veil Powerhouse since I had never seen it from this angle before.

Bridal Veil Powerhouse

An afternoon view of Telluride as I made my way back to the Jeep.

Afternoon Over Telluride

Although I had planned on sticking around for another hike on Sunday morning, I had had a good day and I was feeling tired and ready to head home, so I did. I thought it would be nice to spend Sunday relaxing at home since I have a couple longer trips coming up that I still needed to prepare for.

>> Bridal Veil Basin Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. SteveR
    SteveR August 8, 2023

    Gotta get to the SAn Juans sometime!

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