Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Sun May 30, 2010 11:06 am

I know this is somewhat a repeat of a query below, but I'm expanding it
to the entire state. I'm going to do about a month driving trip in
Colorado this summer and hit a good number of 14ers (caught the bug
last year with 6 peaks in a week) and was looking for some other
non-peak day hike suggestions. I'll be in a sedan (also camping in it),
so am limited to 2wd access only (or short walk up a 4wd road section).
I'm a sucker for beautiful mountain lakes - I'll be starting my trip
with Ice Lake (a top-10 favorite of mine - and probably will also end my
trip with that hike). I have done some hikes in the pretty Bear Lake
and Hessie areas. So any other day hike recommendations for Colorado?

I've heard the Crested Butte area is very pretty - any hiking
suggestions there (or suggestions to skip it)?

Based on other responses, I've added Cascade Creek (Monarch Lake), but
have a question: if you had to chose between Pawnee Lake or Crater
Lake, which one (or don't bother with one or really try to do both)?
I'd probably try to do both, but would want to make sure I hit the
prettier one first in case something came up (bad weather, lack of
energy, ...) and that extra 2 miles to an already long hike wasn't

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:20 am

Well, poo, no suggestions.
Anywho, I came up with Bridal Veil Falls and Blue Lake (and maybe Silver Lake) [Telluride], Copper Lake [Crested Butte], Cathedral Lake [Aspen], and Columbine Lake [Winter Park]. Good choices? Skip any of them? Other suggestions?

I looked at Crag Crest [Grand Mesa], but am not going to be in that area. Is it worth an extra side trip for that hike?


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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby Jim Davies » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:39 am

Willow Lake (west-side route for Kit Carson) is pretty awesome, and can be done as a day-hike.
Check out these threads for a bunch of possibilities:
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby kbmiller » Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:10 am

Try Lake Charles/Mystic Island lake on the west side of the Holy Cross wilderness in the East Brush Creek basin
Also, Harvey Lake on Cross Creek is a pretty spot with few people. Also in the Holy Cross Wilderness -- bit further to go.
Tuhare lakes above lake Constantine on Fall Creek (use same trailhead as Holy Cross) are spectacular and good fishing last I was in there.
Bubble Lake on the headwaters of Black Creek in the Gore Range is hard to get to, but spectacular as well.
Fryingpan lakes, headwaters of the Fryingpan river are pretty nice. Lots of mosquitos, though.
Also try Truro lake, headwaters of Lincoln Creek SE of Aspen.

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:59 am

Thanks so much for the suggestions (I had trouble searching the forum)!
My trip is now approaching 6 weeks long - which isn't a bad thing. :)
One month to go!


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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby Matt » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:14 pm

Lake Hope, outside of Telluride, lies both above Trout Lake and on the other side of the ridge from the Ice Lakes Basin. It's easily accessible in a 2wd, just off CO 145, and the hike is easy.
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby gohigher861 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:33 pm

Andrews Lake is just south of Molas Pass. It's at the start of a great day hike/scramble to the top of Snowdon Peak or you could continue to Crater Lake and summit North Twilight Peak. Long day trip for the latter. Also accessible to 2wd is Williams Lake outside of Pagosa Springs. It's off of Piedra Road with camping by the lake and numerous trailheads close by.

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby TK » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:17 pm

Shelf and Solitude Lakes off of Glacier Gorge are incredible. It's a punishing sbush-wack to get up there once you leave the Glacier Gorge trail, but well worth it.
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby highpilgrim » Wed Jun 09, 2010 2:58 pm

Lilly Lake up the Heurfano Valley is a pretty cool day hike. It's relatively easy, has spectacular views of the north face of Blanca and Ellingwood. Plus, when you get to the lake, there's an easy climb of California Peak from there that gets you great views of the Sangres, San Luis Valley and the Sand Dunes. There is a fairly large herd of Bighorn sheep up there too that we seem to see every time we're there.
lilly lake in late october.jpg
lilly lake in late october.jpg (312.56 KiB) Viewed 1200 times
Last edited by highpilgrim on Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby kaiman » Wed Jun 09, 2010 3:57 pm

pbender wrote:I'm a sucker for beautiful mountain lakes

I'm with you, I like hiking to lakes almost as much as climbing mountains... :) There are sooo many nice ones, this sounds like it should be a fun trip!

pbender wrote:I came up with Bridal Veil Falls and Blue Lake (and maybe Silver Lake) [Telluride], Copper Lake [Crested Butte], Cathedral Lake [Aspen], and Columbine Lake [Winter Park]. Good choices? Skip any of them? Other suggestions?

I looked at Crag Crest [Grand Mesa], but am not going to be in that area. Is it worth an extra side trip for that hike?

All good ideas. Copper Lake in Crested Butte and Cathedral Lake near Aspen are some of my personal favorites (and yes Crested Butte is worth visiting. I would suggest you look into the Kebler Pass/Schofield Pass areas for day hiking). If you are going to be in the Aspen-Crested Butte area I would add Geneva Lake located near Marble-Crystal (awesome) to the list, although you will need a 4WD vehicle to get to the trailhead in Lead King Basin. Capitol Lake is also one that should be on your to-do list.

Glad to see Ice Lakes Basin made the list, this is probably one of the most spectacular places in the state... If you can try to get there around the end of July (when the wildflowers are in full bloom), you wont be disappointed... Another nice set of high-altitude lakes located near Silverton that are worthy of a visit are the Verde/Highland Mary Lakes (awesome views of Arrow, Vestal, and the Trinities).

Some other suggestions: American and Petroleum Lakes (located off the Lincoln Creek Road on Independence Pass) are very nice and worth a visit.

If you are looking for extended hikes/overnights I would add the Gore Range (near Vail) to your list. Piney Lake, Pitkin Lake, and Slate Lakes are all very nice.

Probably my favorite lakes in the state are Lyle and Mormon Lakes (located between Basalt and Leadville near Hagerman Pass in the Frying Pan River Valley). In fact, you may want to check out the Frying Pan River valley as part of your trip as it has several nice lakes (Granite Lakes, Savage Lake, Sawyer Lake, and Josephine Lake) that don't get much traffic.

I could go on all day, but at the risk of overwhelming you I'll stop here...

Happy Trails!


P.S. Grand Mesa is nice, but maybe not worth the drive/time when there are so many other areas to see...

Below are some pics to wet your appetite (not mine) but no pics of Lyle/Mormon lakes, sorry:

Piney Lake:
piney_lake1.jpg (84.23 KiB) Viewed 1303 times

Anderson Lake:
anderson_lake1.jpg (44.86 KiB) Viewed 1302 times

Capitol Lake:
capitol_lake1.jpg (94.08 KiB) Viewed 1306 times
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:32 am

Thanks once again for all the suggestions! Especially thanks for the lake suggestions for the harder 14ers - never would have considered them without the recommendations. I head out a week from today, yes! If you see a silver sedan with Texas plates and Dallas Mavericks license plate frames, that's probably me - say, 'Hi!' - I'll be the one in a T-shirt and raggidy jean shorts with a long light brown pony tail going at a slow pace (or sitting and reading a book). I don't know if I'll peak the difficult class 2s or Longs Peak, but I'll see how far I get. Really hoping I make Blanca as my mom is from Almosa and I always looked at Blanca when visiting the farm. [And, yes, I know it's a ton of hiking, but that's how I do my trips (did 5 14ers in 5 straight days last summer and it didn't wear me out).]


Patricia's Great Colorado Adventure
Tentative schedule (may change, bad weather may add days)
1. drive to Taos, NM
2. Wheeler Peak (13,161 - NM tallest), Los Alamos museums, Bandelier (ruins)
3. drive to Silverton, Chaco Culter NHP, Aztec Ruins; Silver Lake?
4. Ice Lake trail, Clear Lake (road walk) [Silverton]
5. Columbine Lake (Red Mountain), drive [Silverton]
6. Uncompahgre Peak (14er) [Lake City]
7. Red Cloud and Sunshine Peaks (2 14ers) [Lake City]
8. Handies Peak loop (14er) [Lake City]
9. Copper Lake trail, mines sightseeing [Crested Butte]
10. San Luis Peak (14er)
11. Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak (2 14ers) [Salida]
12. Mt Princeton (14er) [Bueno Vista]
13. Mt Antero (14er) [Bueno Vista]
14. Mt Yale (14er) [Bueno Vista]
15. Mt Harvard (14er) [Bueno Vista]
16. Mt Columbia (14er) [Bueno Vista]
17. Missouri Mt (14er) [Bueno Vista]
18. Mt Belford and Mt Oxford (2 14ers) [Bueno Vista]
19. Huron Peak (14er) [Bueno Vista]
20. Snowmass Lake [Aspen]
21. Capitol Lake [Aspen]
22. Castle Peak and Conundrum Peak (2 14ers) [Aspen]
23. Cathedral Lake [Aspen]
24. Mt of the Holy Cross (14er) [Red Cliff]
25. Tuhare Lakes [Red Cliff]
26. Mt Democrat, Mt Cameron, Mt Lincoln (3 14ers) [Breckenridge]
27. Grays Peak and Torreys Peak (2 14ers) [Bakerville]
28. Mt Bierstadt (14er)
29. Columbine Lake [Winter Park]
30. Cascade Creek-Crater Lake [Granby]
31. RMN - Crystal Lake, Bear Lake area [Estes Park]
32. Longs Peak (14er) [Estes Park]
33. Forest Lakes/other lakes [Nederland]
34. Hessie hike; drive [Nederland]
35. Humbolt Peak (14er) [Westcliffe]
36. Willow Lake, maybe on to Challenger Pt (14er) [Moffat]
37. Blanca Peak (14er) [valley]
38. Blue Lake and Silver Lake [Telluride]
39. Blue Lakes and Mt Sneffels (14er) [Telluride]
[maybe Grand Mesa hike]
40. Ice Lake [Silverton]
41. drive home

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby eaglerunner » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:17 am

For all of Colorado? I would definitly suggest Mowhawk Lakes, near Breck, Sky Pond, Black Lake, Chasm Lake, Or Shelf and Solitude Lakes in RMNP
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