Hot Spot - Blue Lakes, Mt. Sneffels Wilderness, CO

The Blue Lakes in Mt Sneffles Wilderness are experiencing severe impacts from outdoor activities and is one of the many Hot Spots in 2018. With site-specific training, consulting, educational programs, service projects and more, these threatened areas can be put on a road to a healthy recovery.

In the 16,587-acre Mt. Sneffels wilderness, only 15 miles of trail exist, and are heavily used in the summer and fall. The popular 3.5 mile Blue Lakes Trail provides summer access to wildflower-carpeted alpine meadows, turquoise lakes surrounded by craggy peaks and ridges providing “see-forever” views, making this trail a destination hike for anyone visiting Southwest Colorado.  This short trail is visited by about 35,000 hikers annually, nearly all of which visit during the months of July and August. During this time the trailhead parking lot, which was built for 20 cars, often exceeds 200 vehicles. This high concentration of use has caused significant impacts including trampled vegetation, numerous fire rings in an area where campfires are prohibited, human waste and sanitation issues at the trailhead and along the trail, and overcrowding. 

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is teaming up with US Forest Service staff to execute a week of targeted training, education programs and service work with agency staff, key stakeholders and members of the local community. The overall goals of these efforts are the long-term improvement of resource conditions, increased awareness of impacts in the forest, elevated Leave No Trace programs within agency management plans and increased use of Leave No Trace skills and ethics by the visiting public. This week of action based events is just one step in helping Blue Lakes and the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness on its road to recovery. 

Tuesday, July 3rd 
Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm 
Where: Ridgway 4-H Event Center, Non-profit Meeting Room
The Leave No Trace team will be presenting an interactive, hands-on workshop teaching participants minimum impacts skills and how to effectively communicate with visitors about attendees. Register here.  
 
Thursday, July 5th and Friday, July 6th
If you are spending the night enjoying Blue Lakes on July 5th or 6th, keep your eye out for the Leave No Trace team. They will be visiting the site with Forest Service staff and educating visitors about the impacts at Blue Lakes and Mt. Sneffles area and how these impacts can be prevented with Leave No Trace practices. 
 
Saturday, July 7th
The Leave No Trace team will spend the afternoon talking to OHV users on Camp Bird Road. They will be sharing information about Leave No Trace skills and ethics and how these minimum impact practices can help protect the lands and visitor experience on and around camp bird road.