Colorado’s high-altitude alpine lakes are among our mountain’s most challenging hikes yet rewarding experiences. Hiking at a high altitude above tree line gives you an unforgettable look at the alpine tundra, alpine lakes, and views few get to see. Ten trails that exceeded our expectations that I know you will love.
CHICAGO LAKES TRAIL
Chicago Lakes Trail is a high-altitude delight as it winds its way to two alpine lakes into the Mt. Evans Wilderness. Wildflowers, wildlife, and views are abundant in summer. Fall and Winter hold magic as the snow settles in on the peaks. A favorite local trail!
12 miles out & back, Rated: strenuous, Elevation gain – 2,536′, Upper Lake Elevation – 12,868′, Restrooms
Chicago Lakes Trailhead is located at Echo Lake Park
WINSOR LAKE TRAIL
Windsor Lake Trail on Hagerman Pass is a beautiful short hike. It might not be a long trail, but it is strenuous! Lung and leg busting with tremendous rewards at the top. We loved it.
2.2 miles out and back, Steep and strenuous, Located: Hagerman Pass, Lake elevation: 11,640″, No restrooms
Fish Creek Falls Trail to Long Lake
Steamboat Springs, CO
Fish Creek Falls to Long Lake Trail is a mecca of stunning waterfalls and will steal your heart. Beautiful from start to finish and packed full of all Colorado has to offer.
13 miles out & back, Rated: hard, 2522′ elevation gain, restrooms
Know the signs of altitude sickness before your day hike or backpacking adventure.
Fancy Lake Trail
Tennessee Pass, CO
Fancy Lake Trail is an enchanted forest with lush greenery, wildflowers, birdsong, craggy ledges, cascading waters from snowmelt, and one stunning alpine lake. Options for more alpine lakes can keep you hiking for days in wonder!
6.2 miles out & back, Rated: Strenuous, 2,345′ elevation gain, Restrooms
MOHAWK LAKES TRAIL
Mohawk & Mayflower Lakes is one of Colorado’s favorite day hikes. This hike has it all. You begin at 10,390′ elevation and reach 12,000′, with alpine lakes, old cabins, mine remnants, creek crossings, summer wildflowers, a dazzling waterfall, and incredible views.
6 miles out and back – to the lower lake, 6.7 miles out and back – to the upper lake, Rated: moderate/strenuous, No restrooms, Limited parking
Hike Spruce Creek Trail to reach Mohawk Lakes Trailhead
HOPE LAKE TRAIL
OPHIR, CO near TELLURIDE, CO
Hope Lake Trail is one of the most sought-after trails near Telluride, CO, and we had the pleasure of finding out why — we loved it! High peaks hover above us as we hike through lush green forests, crossing creeks, views all around, and a beautiful alpine lake high above the treeline in a basin lined with 13ers.
5.3 miles out and back, Rated: Moderate, Start Elevation: 10,750 ft., Lake Elevation: 11,880 ft., No restroom
BRIDAL VEIL FALLS to BLUE LAKE
Bridal Veil Basin to Blue Lake will leave you stunned with its scenic beauty. The famous 365′ Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, is the first highlight of many more to come as you head deeper into the Basin. Hiking in the San Juan Mountains never disappoints!
8.7 miles out & back, Rated: Moderate/strenuous, Start Elevation: 10,400′ End 12,220″, Portable Potties
Hiking Essentials We Take On Every HIke
Trail starts at Bridal Veil Falls Trailhead
BOOTH LAKE TRAIL
Booth Lake Trail was strenuous and exhilarating, leaving us speechless when reaching the tree line. Beautiful from beginning to end, with the famous 60′ Booth Falls as a bonus! This trail is a beauty.
10 miles out and back, Rated: Difficult, Elevation gain: 3,053 feet, Portable Potties, Limited Parking, Shuttles
American Lake Trail has got it all. Stunning aspen groves line the trail, soon leading into a dense forest of pines and spruces, arriving at an alpine lake with sweeping high peaks views. The hike was more than we expected! Beautiful.
6.4 miles out and back, Rated: Strenuous, Elevation gain: approx: 2000′, Highest elevation: 11,390′, No restrooms
Gear I own and highly recommend!
CRYSTAL LAKE TRAIL
Lake City, CO
Crystal Lake Trail sits just beneath the eastern side of Crystal Peak (12,933f ft), presenting a stunning ending to a spectacular hike. First, you find yourself amid intense forests of aspens and meadows with sweeping views of Lake City far below. Then onto dense pines along ridges with stunning views of the highest peaks and rewarded with a lovely alpine lake.
8.2 miles out & back, Rated: Moderate/strenuous, No restrooms, Elevation gain: 2,960 ft, Highest elevation: 11,760 ft
Crystal Lake Trailhead is also the Trailhead for Larson Lake
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