Lake City, CO, is known for Cinnamon Pass to Silverton and Engineer Pass to Ouray, which can only be accessed by off-road vehicles. ATVs, Razors, and Jeeps. Rentals are available in town. However, there are two exceptional trails right in the town of Lake City.

We spent a few days hiking and a few days being tourists. Lake City is a joy to spend time with its surrounding peaks and an idyllic little corner of Colorado. The hikes we found are now two of our favorite trails.

A perfect Colorado getaway destination.


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Crystal Lake Trail

Crystal Lake Trail sits just beneath the eastern side of Crystal Peak (12,933f ft) and presents a stunning ending to a spectacular hike. Minutes from Lake City, CO, 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. We were the only hikers until finding. a group of backpackers at the Lake. Beautiful hike!

9.2 miles out & back / Rated: Moderate/strenuous


LOCATED: From Lake City go north on Hwy 149 for 1/4 mile. Turn left on Balsam Rd.  and travel 1/2 mile. Trailhead for Crystal and Larson Lakes is well marked on your left.

Preparing makes all the difference in making it an enjoyable and safe experience. > HIKING ESSENTIALS and GEAR we carry with us on all our hikes that we recommend from years of hiking.

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Cataract Gulch Trail

Cataract Gulch Trail is packed with cascading waterfalls, dense forests, and abundant wildflowers. Located in the backcountry, yet accessible. Reaching Cataract Lake, located on the Continental Divide high above the tree line, is the perfect ending. I love the Colorado Columbine, and I found my first pink one! A wide variety of wildflowers were flourishing everywhere. Bring a Wildflower Field Guide with you! Be Bear aware, add Bear Spray to your backpack, and limit foods or put in Oderless Bags.

Cataract Gulch – 4.5 miles out & back / Cataract Lake – 8.6 miles out & back / Rated: moderate/strenuous


LOCATED: From Lake City, take Highway 149 south for approx. 2 miles. Turn right onto CR 30 (towards Lake San Cristobal). Drive alongside the Lake to a junction. Veer right away from the Lake. At the next fork in the road, turn left on CR 35 toward Sherman Town Site and drive about 1.4 miles. The trailhead is well-marked on your left.

PATAGONIA has a Nano Puff Vest and a Nano Puff Jacket I have owned for years and carry with me year-round in Colorado’s High Country. Warm, lightweight, packable, and comfortable. The vest is my most prized possession. I have all the colors. You will have your vest and jacket for years of hiking.

Nellie Creek Falls Trail

Nellie Creek Falls trail was lovely if you want to stretch your legs like we did before we left to go home. Beautiful Aspen forest on a 4×4 road. We stopped here, but on Alltrails, you can go much farther to Nellie Creek Trail, a single-track, and have a full day of hiking.

2.2 miles out and back to Nellie Creek Falls

4 miles to Nellie Creek Trailhead

Rated: Moderate


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One of the Pretties Lakes in Colorado!

San Cristobal Lake is the second-largest natural body of water in Colorado and is gorgeous! A jewel just minutes from Lake City. The lake is 2.1 miles long, up to 89 feet deep, with room for everyone. A county-owned campground sits atop a hill overlooking the lake. I brought my paddle board and had a beautiful morning on the water. My husband went fishing and had a sad morning, not catching anything — rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, brown trout, lake trout and kokanee salmon he missed out on. 

We spotted several moose in the water at the far end of the lake.

Pontoon Boat Rentals  / Lake San Cristobal Lodge /  Fishing Outfitters

/ Wupperman Campground & Boat Dock

My Paddle Board Set-Up 


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Ute Ulay Town & Millsite – Ghost Town

Located on the Alpine Loop, not far from Lake City, is a short hike through history. When we visited, there was a group working to preserve the Townsite with loads of information about the area, to my husband’s delight. He loves history; I  love hiking. So, taking the trail through the Townsite was fascinating.

NOTE: Accessible by car on the Alpine Loop to Ute Ulay..

Read about the  History of Ute Ulay Town and Millsite

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Capitol City Ghost Town

Located on the Alpine Loop on Engineer Pass, not far from Lake City, is the Ghost Town of Capitol City. Just a few remnants of the town remain, and the location was a stunning setting.

NOTE: Accessible by high clearance car to Capitol City.

Non Essentials but FUN to have

Wildflowers of Colorado Field Guide – We see so many wildflowers on hikes that I finally bought a field guide which has been a treat.

Nocs Provisions 8 x 25 Waterproof Binoculars – I didn’t realize how much we would use these until we had them!


We headed to Creede, CO, on the  Silver Thread Scenic Byway, an hour’s drive from Lake City. A sensational short road trip.

Along the drive, “Lake San Cristobal Overlook” and “Windy Point Overlook,” with amazing views of the San Jan Peaks, are a must-stop. The drive over Spring Creek Pass on the Continental Divide (elevation 10,898′) is where the Colorado Trail crosses the road.

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North Clear Creek Falls

A highlight of the Silver Thread Byway was an incredible waterfall. It is in a canyon and rages down 100 feet below you. Not a hike since it’s a pull-off from the road. Picnic tables and restroom at the overlook. A small loop trail to stretch your legs.

A dramatic sight to behold. Loved it!




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The setting in Creede, CO, is nothing short of spectacular. We wandered through the boutique shops and got fudge (a must on vacation). This historic mining town has maintained its traditional character and is still the old west!

Bachelor Mine Loop

This was incredible. A 17-mile drive, on your own, through the historic mining district above Creede. The tour took us through mine locations from the 1890s and abandoned ghost towns. 

For excellent information >



Alpine Moose Lodge, Lake City,

Views from Alpine Moose Lodge, where we stayed on our visit. The rooms are large, excellent service, and they make amazing homemade pizza in their restaurant.

Lake City is an idyllic corner of Colorado.

The hiking is phenomenal.

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).


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Can't wait to see you on the trail!

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