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It’s a beautiful three-mile hike from the trailhead up to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, one of three Blue Lakes in Colorado that I know of. Up above tree line, and right at the Continental Divide, this view is from the lake’s east side, and includes the classic profile of Mount Toll (not quite a 13er at elevation 12,979 feet), which rises another 1600 feet above some of the bluest, coldest water found anywhere. (Typically, the lake is not ice-free until July.) Across the lake on the other side is a splendid waterfall (here, just right of center), which is actually quite large and quite loud. Fed by another icy waterfall high above it on the flanks of the mountain, you can hear it well before you reach the lake.

At a place where no photo of mine could ever hope to capture it all, the whole setting is sublime. If the visual feast isn’t enough for you, you’ve got the sounds of life-giving water rushing down from the heavens right in front of you. In fact, you can see and hear water running throughout the entire Blue Lake/Mitchell Lake drainage. In a state – and in much of the country – where severe drought is becoming the norm rather than the exception, I can tell you it is a sweet sound indeed.

Blue Lake (elevation 11,320 feet)
Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
United States

The photo was made using a Canon EOS 50D digital body, EF 24mm f/1.4L lens, at f/16 for 1/60 second at 100 ISO.


colorado, landscape, landscapes, blue lake, indian peaks, wilderness, mitchell lake, mount toll, rocky mountains, rockies, continental divide, ward, wilderness area, american west, eric glaser


  • Eivor Kuchta
    Eivor Kuchtaover 1 year ago

    That sounds like a wonderful hike, Eric! With your wonderful description we can get a sense of how beautiful it is up there! Good job!

  • Thank you, Eivor. Unfortunately when I arrived up there in the morning it was socked in by low clouds; it didn’t clear until midday, when the light wasn’t the best. I plan on returning in the fall for a sunrise view! Thanks again.

    – Eric Glaser

  • AuntieBarbie
    AuntieBarbieover 1 year ago

    Such gorgeous scenery and an inviting lake – wish I were there now with this warm weather. Was just in Colorado and was so interested to see how low the lakes and rivers were with not much snow this past year. Excellent job.

  • Hi Barbie, thanks so much for your visit and comment. The effects of the drought are not as noticeable up here in the mountains as they are on the eastern plains of Colorado, where the farmers are really suffering. You’re right, the snowpack was very light this past spring, and was gone very early. But up high there looks to have been enough rain this summer to keep things going. Thanks again!

    – Eric Glaser

  • Teresa Smith
    Teresa Smithover 1 year ago

    Very nice Eric. Great description!! It’s a good hike and we did it early summer. But it was so windy and cold when we got there we didn’t stay long. I want to go back. I love the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

  • Hi Teresa, thanks very much! I’m with you: I love the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, and on a beautiful day you just can’t beat it. I wish I lived closer to it, it’s an amazing area. And the trees are glorious. Here’s hoping you get better weather on your next visit!

    – Eric Glaser

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