Use this combination of trails to get up to Blaine Basin, a quiet green basin surrounded by towering mountains. When you arrive at Blue Lakes Trail
trailhead and see all the cars in the parking lot, you might have second thoughts about hiking with such a large crowd who are mostly heading up Blue Lakes Trail
. Consider trying this quieter trail instead.
Much of the route follows Wilson Creek which provides a pleasant background sound of running water. The hike will cross the creek a few times but at each of the crossings you should find a mini bridge built with multiple logs.
Blaine Basin shares a trailhead with the very popular Blue Lakes Trail
. It provides a quieter alternative that still has great opportunities for wildflowers and fabulous views. The trail ends in an incredible basin ringed by majestic mountains including Mt Sneffels.
From Ridgway (a small town north of Ouray) take CO 62 west (the only way). Drive around some steep bends before coming to a sign marked "National Forest access East Dallas Creek" with an arrow pointing south (to the left). Take this turn and continue on a 2WD dirt road. There are some turnoffs onto private property here and there, but just stay on the main road for about 9 miles. There's a clearing with camping options and a parking area about 0.2 miles further. Your starting elevation is 9,500 ft.
From the trailhead, take the left at the fork. This part of the trail is Dallas Trail
200 and is open to ATVs, but we didn't encounter any on a nice July weekend. The switchbacks start right away taking you ever higher up in a thick forest. The trail crosses Wilson Creek several times. At each crossing look for a solid multi-log bridge. Confused hikers have made extra trails to less sturdy crossings, so check out all the options before starting across. At the first Wilson Creek crossing the multi-log bridge is off to the right, look for a trail heading to it. In a short while the ATV traffic has to turn off to the left and then later Dallas Trail
also heads off to the left. Now you are on Blaine Trail 203 which is open to horse and foot traffic only.
There are a few times along the trail where you can spot grand waterfalls or rugged mountains but the best view is towards the end of the trail when you pop out of the forest and into a cirque of rugged snow-capped peaks. The basin is a carpet of colorful wildflowers in July.
The wildflowers up in the basin are fantastic in July.