Location: San Juan Mountains
Directions: Outside Silverton, turnoff just out of town on Hwy. 550
Time: Approximately 1 hour, one-way. Only 5 miles.
I drove this for the first time in the fall of 2009 and it has easily become one of my top 5 favorite trails. The payoff at the end of the trail is higher than almost any other trail I’ve ever driven.
You get to the trail by heading toward Silverton on Highway 550 and turning off on County Road 7, which is about 2 miles outside Silverton. You’ll pass several campgrounds and at around 3.7 miles you’ll see a sign for Clear Lake County Road 12. (staying to the left takes you to the Bandora Mine). At around 7.8 miles you’ll see a small lake and think you’ve reached Clear Lake…but going just a bit further will immediately convince you how wrong you were! Clear Lake sneaks into view and you know you’ve reached the end of the line. Clear Lake is nestled in a high bowl near the tops of the mountain peaks and the turquoise color of the water is so stunning you will feel like your eyes are popping out of your head. There’s a parking lot at the top and when I was there, everyone was enjoying their lunch and taking photos of the water.