Hiking the Indian Peaks Wilderness' Lost Lake

Lost Lake, Nederland, Colorado, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    4.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1000 Feet

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Wildflowers. Alpine lake. Creek with waterfalls. Fall colors. Family-friendly and dog-friendly. Close to Denver and Boulder. 4.5 mile round-trip hike with 1000 feet elevation gain. 6 miles round-trip in winter as the road up to the trailhead is closed.

Lost Lake of the Indian Peaks Wilderness area is a scenic short hike (about 3 hours) with a lot to see. The trailhead is tucked at the end of a road that passes through Eldora, a charming village of cabins and old abandoned buildings. You will pass by the lost "town" of Hessie on foot, which is where the trailhead gets its name.

Almost right away, you'll see the trail (Hessie Road) is covered with water. You have the option to pick your way along the road and take your chances encountering a 4-wheeling vehicle, or take the well-established path that goes through the woods around the wet section. It really is a matter of choice; I've done both.

The (barely a) road ends at the first footbridge crossing Middle Boulder Creek, and Hessie Trailhead begins.

The hike more or less follows Middle Boulder Creek. Just a little over a mile into the hike, you'll hear some falls on the left. Be sure to take the little side tour to the falls; they're just beautiful! This is a relaxing place to find a rock next to the water to take a break and have a snack.

As you climb, you'll be able to see the Eldora Ski Area, as well as various flowers and several creek sightings. If you are a photographer, there are plenty of opportunities to capture the white water along the way. This lower-elevation hike is mostly forested, but opens up in places for some great long-range views of green mountains.

Several other trails connect to Hessie Trailhead, so just keep on the trail marked Lost Lake. It's about 2 miles from the parking area to the lake. The path encircles the lake (about .6 mile), giving you scenic views of the area from all directions. The best wildflowers are on the treeless southwest side. There are 9 campsites encircling the lake as well, for those of you who would like to spend the night.

Getting There:

From Hwy 72 at Nederland, turn west onto Eldora Rd. (Eldora Ski Area). Continue on this road about 5 miles (it becomes dirt after 4 miles). You will see a fork in the road, where 4th of July Road goes to the right, and Hessie Road goes to the left. Unless you are prepared to do some rough 4-wheeling, park in a designated parking area leading up to the fork. Hiking begins at the left fork, and it is about 2 miles from here to the lake.

IN WINTER:

The road closes where the pavement ends. This adds 1 mile each way to your snowshoe/xc ski hike. Park near the road block on Eldora Ave.

Pack List

  • Day Pack
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Trail shoes or hiking boots
  • Layered clothing on cooler days
  • Camera
  • Book on Colorado flora if interested in wildflower species
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Reviews

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I hiked to the lake on a day off alone. It was a great hike and I felt comfortable being alone because there were other people out doing the same as I was! The lake was frozen over and crackled under the sunlight. One of the most peaceful places I've been to. The trails were well managed and easy to follow.

6 months ago
6 months ago

This was our first lake hike in Colorado, it's beautiful. There is a decent amount of elevation gain but nothing our 2 year old son couldn't handle the majority of. Looping around Lost Lake and getting different backdrop views was particular gorgeous. The wild flowers were a welcome additional, as were the variety of trees. We didn't see many hikers or wildlife. We had lunch by the lake, as did a few other hikers, there was ample room for all of us to be there and not be close to one another. It was far less populated than Rocky Mountain National Park.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Pretty easy hike up to a beautiful lake! Went up here during the week and was the only person at the lake. The trail is definitely a bit rocky but do able for most ages and abilities!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is a great snowshoeing trail for beginners or those looking for something close to Denver. The trail generally has gentle grades, although there are a few sections that are a little steeper, but by and large this place is perfect for those wanting to try out snowshoeing. The trail is easily accessible, but if coming in winter you will need a high clearance vehicle to make it to the proper trailhead. Commuter cars will have to park at the end of the pavement and hike in.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Awesome quick hike close to Boulder.

about 3 years ago
about 3 years ago

Camping at Lost Lake is a great "intro to backpacking" trip-- close to town, a shorter hike in, and no fees makes it great for an easy night in the mountains! The campsites do usually fill up quickly on weekends, so arrive early if you want your choice of spots.

over 3 years ago
over 3 years ago

Amy Kesic Storyteller

A mom who decided to get fit a few years ago, I took up running and hiking to keep myself moving. Since moving to the Front Range foothills a year ago, I've spent my free time discovering all the trails I possibly can. I'm in love with Colorado and the Rocky Mountains; I also like to take pictures, and I share my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram at @run2themountains.

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