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Highland Mary Lakes Trail There are many trails near Durango that offer great scenery, open spaces and a chance to hike around high mountain lakes and streams but the Highland Mary Lakes Trail is in a league of its own. The rich mining history, moderate trail and the chance to see such large natural lakes clustered together above timberline make it another local favorite. The Highland Mary Lakes Trail is situated in the upper end of the Cunningham Gulch which is northeast of Silverton Colorado. It is part of a series of canyons (gulches) that ascend into large above timberline basins and bowls surrounded by magnificent mountain peaks. Mines dot the hillsides in every direction; in fact the Little Giant and Silver Lake mines are very close by but are blocked by mountains. Finding the trailhead is very easy and all visitors need to do is take CR 2 north out of Silverton along the dirt road and follow the signs to Cunningham Gulch CR 4 to the end. The trailhead has a large parking area with room for horse trailers and the gravel road is fairly well maintained. There is a small stream crossing about ¼ mile away from the main trailhead that will hinder cars but OHV's can make it with proper caution. Our map page  provides a great view of the route and directions if needed. Trail use is limited to foot and horseback travel only because it is in a wilderness area and there is a sign marking the cutoff for horses to use as the main hiking area is too rocky and steep. The trail has a difficulty rating of moderate to possible strenuous for people not acclimated to hiking at higher altitudes for longer distances. From the trailhead past the lakes to the Continental Divide trail is approximately 3 miles but most people stop at the first set of lakes. The trail itself is well defined, easy to follow and only moderately steep in a few sections so it would be a good choice for intermediate experience or even kids that are strong hikers. Be sure to bring sunscreen, jacket, water, insect repellent, munchies and especially the camera. The Highland Mary Lakes area has two medium and one very large natural lake very close to each other that are fed by melting ice and snow that is sometimes sitting in the shady areas all year round. There are other lakes that you can hike to past the Highland Mary south towards the Continental Divide trail which are the Verde Lake and Lost Lake. The Continental Divide trail eventually swings east and intersects with the famous Colorado Trail which makes it very appealing for backpacking.  Hunting for big game by horseback is also very popular on this and surrounding trails. Geologists or rock hounds should bring the rock picks as there is some very interesting geology all along the trail and surrounding hillsides.  Fishing in the largest lake is rated as "fair" and people have been seen pulling up medium sized brook trout so if you have a pole, give it a try! When to hike to the Highland Mary Lakes? The answer depends on the weather. General window of opportunity is from July through early October (maybe) and if you decide to plan your trip earlier in the spring or later in the fall check the weather forecast. Do not let yourself get caught off guard by a high mountain snow storm. Being such a short season there are quite a few people hiking this trail during the prime time so be patient and expect some congestion during holiday weekends. The upper trails around the lakes open up and allow people to spread out more. The highland tundra has a look and feel of being on the Scottish moors with low lying shrubs and looking to the northeast you can see Sheep and Greenhalgh mountains. Vast sweeping highland meadows full of wildflowers only add to the ambience and will "Haste Ye Back". The Highland Mary Lakes Trail offers hikers and backpacker's access into some incredible wilderness of unrivaled beauty that is just waiting to be explored. Guid Cheerio the Nou!