Clear Lake Trail is an amazing place to get the jeep out for a 1/2 day out and back. the trailhead is located near the end of South Mineral Creek Road which is located a few miles North of Silverton on Highway 550. Clear Lake Trail is a moderately difficult trail with the most difficult section located near the very top. If you’re concerned about the more difficult sections you can park on any one of the ‘platforms’ which are located at the end of each of the steep switchbacks near the top and walk the last few hundred yards from there. These are located just after the first big waterfall you encounter above tree line.
The first section of Clear Lake Trail is rather tame as it heads back and up into the trees for several hundred yards before the first switchback At this point you will notice a trail head on your left and likely a few parked cars. This is a cut-off trail which connects to Ice Lake Trail, saving the hiker a few hundred feet of elevation gain. There is also an amazing waterfall about 100 yards up this trail and is well worth stretching the legs to go check out.
Further up the trail the switchbacks keep cutting through the pines in a steeper and steeper fashion, passing some amazing campsites along the way. Once you break out above tree line you’ll encounter a massive, very steep bowl with a series of waterfalls running through its center. As a side note, our dogs love running around up here. The first switchback has room to park so you can go explore another really cool waterfall right up close.
Once you reach the top of Clear Lake Trail you’ll be rewarded with crystal blue waters, snow fields, and wildflowers, all nestled into a pristine alpine valley at 12,000+ feet in elevation. This is what San Juan County is all about!
It is recommended that you have a jeep or otherwise comparable vehicle with very good tires. This trail is a bit sketchy in my 90 Suburban due to the high center of gravity and wide wheel base, but that’s only in the very last section. If you are concerned about your vehicle please keep in mind that you can rent jeeps in town from several companies and they often cost around $100 or less for the day…Basically, a lot less than your deductible on your insurance policy.
Map of the Clear Lake Trail 4×4