There is nothing like a hike to an alpine lake, and Kroenke Lake Trail is one to add to your bucket list!
Beautiful from start to finish, we hiked through lush forests, leading to incredible views of Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks, did a few water crossings, and nestled in the basin just below the tree line, we found Kroenke Lake.
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Super shady to start, with North Cottonwood Creek rushing alongside us, was just the beginning of what is now one of my favorite trails.
You’ll reach this signpost (above) about 2 miles in. Many other hikers are heading to Horn Fork Basin to do Mt. Columbia or Mt. Harvard 14ers. But we are heading to Kroenke Lake and turned left, leaving many hikers behind.
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When coming out of the pines and seeing the peaks, my anticipation got my adrenaline soaring. So peaceful, uncomplicated, and quiet the mountains are.
We encountered several water crossings, some easy, and others were trickier but doable. It’s the middle of June, and the creek is high and moving fast. Trekking poles came in handy.
Back into the forest again and out again. I’ve been to many different forests in Colorado and can honestly say the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness is beautiful.
THE VIEWS ARE ASTOUNDING
The trail is leveling off with mounds of snow appearing, which only means we are getting close.
It’s super windy, chilly, and glorious at the lake’s edge.
Hiking up, we saw a lot of hikers carrying fishing poles and found that the lake was so clear you could see fish swimming in it. The chances of getting a cutthroat trout are pretty good up here, said a few others. Colorado Fishing License
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NOTE: Another 1.5-mile climb will take you to the top of Browns Pass for stellar views of surrounding 13ers and 14ers.
Heading back down, the wind had subsided, the sun was warm on our faces, and we hiked back feeling refreshed and eager for the next hike.
MY BEST- LOVED HIKES NEAR Buena Vista
Harvard Lakes Trail – Beneath Mt. Columbia
Ptarmigan Lake Trail – A favorite!
Hartenstein Lake Hike – Idyllic Colorado
Browns Creek Falls Trail – Exhilarating
Browns Lake Trail – Adventurous day hIke
Views heading back down are almost more impressive than going up!
Kroenke Lake Trail is really a steady incline with minimal strenuous stretches. Lots of areas to rest if needed. Just started hiking? This is a great start for high alpine hikes. Just know it is at high altitude and high altitude sickness is real.
IT’S HARD TO LEAVE THIS TRAIL …
8.6 miles out and back
Start elevation: 9,860 ft
Lake elevation: 11,500 ft
Open to: hiking, dogs on leash, horses
San Isabel National Forest
Nearest town: Buena Vista
From the town of Buena Vista, turn west on County Rd 350 off of Hwy 24. Go to County Rd 361, turn right and take Forest Rd 365 to the trailhead. The road becomes rocky and a higher clearance vehicle is suggested. (We did see small cars up there and campers). Parking is at the trailhead but the restroom is 3 miles before the trailhead on Forest Rd 365.
Check out my favorite Colorado Hikes…
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