Lewis Mine & Lake
One of Telluride's Most Beautiful Hikes
By Danielle Steffens
Elie & David are visiting this weekend and want to hike to a mine. After some research they found Lewis Mine in Telluride. I have not heard of this hike but it has good ratings and starts at Bridal Veil Falls which I was hoping to see while here, so I’m excited to check it out!
We leave Montrose at 4:30 am and arrive at the trailhead to Bridal Veil Falls at 6 am. The route information wasn’t very clear on what type of vehicle is needed to reach the top of the falls so we drive up cautiously not knowing if we’ll make it the whole way.
At one of the first switchbacks, we encounter a deep rut with a large rock in it. Concerned that the RAV4 may not have enough clearance, we turn around and drive back down to the 2WD trailhead to park.
After a short walk up the road, we reach the beginning of the trail. It starts out steep up through the woods. The path is heavily inlaid with rocks and winds between and around large boulders. Mixed with the slight breeze through the Aspen trees, the trail feels airy and majestic like a fresh adventure.
A little ways up we’re treated to a beautiful waterfall running into a potential swimming hole.
Future adventure: Swim here
We continue the hike up to the waterfall and arrive at the base around 8 am. From there, we hike the road up to the top of Bridal Veil Falls and we pass through the pedestrian gate at 8:35 am.
Bridal Veil Falls
We hike the old mine road and it remains open, wide, and gravely for the whole hike which makes it easy for us to chat as we go. A little ways past the top of the falls, we see the trail for Silver Lake split off across the river. We keep left.
We spot a cave above the trail on the left and climb up to the mouth. From what we can tell, the cave goes back very far. We want to explore but are nervous at what animals we might find in there so we decide to continue on our way.
We reach the split for Blue Lake and continue right. The valley continues to get more lush as we get higher. We pause for some pictures at an exceptionally scenic spot.
This makes me want to frolic
As we get higher, more ponds are present in the fields, adding to the majestic feel. There are also many wildflowers still blooming up here.
Something up ahead startles David and we pause. Three stags come galloping down the ridge straight in front of us. They are headed right towards us. With nowhere to go, we hold our ground and hope for the best. Luckily, they bank left into a ditch in front of us and continue to run along. We spot a fourth stag up on the ridgeline and wonder if it was a territory battle, but soon that stag comes galloping down too, two hawks dive bombing it and screeching. We assume the deer must have stumbled upon the hawk’s nest. What a sight! It’s like something straight out of Animal Planet!
We continue on past more ponds and soon the mine comes into sight! Boy, is it big! Lewis Mine is five stories and the building is still largely in tact. We explore around the area and grab lots of pictures.
Next, we continue on up the last stretch of the trail to Lewis Lake. When we arrive, we have the whole place to ourselves. We rest for a bit, soak our feet, and eat a snack.
At 1 pm we start our descent. The hike down is very quick. We reach the mine in no time, snake back around the ponds, and before we know it we’re at the falls. We trot on down the 4WD road and this time we take the road the whole way rather than the trail through the woods.
- Trailhead: Unnamed (Bridal Veil Falls, just past Pandora Mill)
- Car driven: Toyota RAV4
- Day of the week hiked: Saturday
- Trailhead arrival time: 6 am
- Parking: Lots of space
- Restroom at the trailhead? Yes
- Crowd count: Lots up to Bridal Veil Falls, ~20 before split to blue lake, very few after Blue Lake split
Trekking poles recommended? Would be nice for mileage but not required.
Shoe verdict: Hiking boots recommended due to mileage. Trail runners would be okay if you’re able to part at the top of the falls.
After the hike, we stop in town for a well-earned meal at Floradora Saloon. I order the Paleo Burger and it is everything I’d been craving on that hike. A huge burger on a bed of lettuce topped with bacon, avocado, and an egg with a side of sweet potato hash. Doesn’t get any better than that!
Curious to see what other adventures I’m getting into during my 5 weeks living in Montrose, CO? Check it out here!