Waterdog Trail, Monarch Pass, Colorado … incredible!

Hidden on Monarch Pass about 22 miles from Salida, Colorado is a hiking trail soon to become one of your favorites. Challenging and invigorating, it’s a must do for hiking enthusiasts.

You might drive by the trailhead sign several times before finally finding it back in the trees. You’ll find the beginning of the trail magical with a creek trickling over rocks and a moss covered shoreline.

Waterdog Trail, Monarch Pass, Colorado

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A slow steady uphill smooth trail to begin, becomes a rocky steep trail quite quickly and pretty much stays that way all the way up. Several switchbacks later, a couple creek crossings and the trail keeps going up.

Another amazing Colorado hike. “Waterdog Trail”

Very green and lush with signs of fall coming. Crispy cool air, slight breeze, lots of sunshine and no mosquitoes. Wildflowers still about made for a beautiful day hike.

Weather can do about anything in Colorado, especially at this altitude, you never know it could sleet and snow even in summer!

 Tell someone where you plan to go and bring your hiking gear appropriate for the time of year. Check out “What’s in Your Day Pack?”, for tips on hiking essentials.

Near Salida, Colorado, “Waterdog Trail” don’t miss it!

About 2 miles in, you’ll hike out of the trees above timberline and reach lower Waterdog Lake.

Jaw-dropping, picture perfect view, walking up to Waterdog Lake.

Seems no matter where you hike in Colorado, there is something special about each one. This was exceptional.

Lower Waterdog Lake, San Isabel National Forest, Colorado

Lots of social trails to wander around the lake on. Find the trail that looks promising to take you to upper Waterdog Lake. Nothing is marked but easy enough to figure out.

Everywere you’ll find signs dreamy dispersed camp sites.

A backpackers paradise. This area would make for an easy overnight Colorado backpack trip.

It’s a bit of a scramble over boulders and rocks  to get up to the upper lake but well worth it. The lake sits above treeline with sweeping views, surrounded by the rock wall of the Continental Divide.

Harder at this lake to wander much. Heavy foliage and rocks prevented you from venturing very far.

Upper Waterdog Lake, Monarch Pass, Colorado

On the way back to the trail leading down we ran into a group of excited outbound students backpacking. Was a treat to visit with them and get caught up in their enthusiasm.

Waterdog Trail, a Colorado Backpacker paradise, Salida, CO

Monarch Pass is going to become a new playground for us. Lots of trails within the Pass yet to explore.

You’ll want to come back to this Colorado hiking gem.

Want more trails like this? Another favorite, Mohawk Lakes Trail, on Hoosier Pass.

Finding the Trailhead:
From the east take US Highway 50 out of Poncho Springs and pass the small towns of Maysville and Garfield. Once passed Garfield you will pass an extensive mining area on your left. (You can’t miss it). Once past the mining area the Waterdog Trailhead sign will be on your right. It’s pretty hidden in the trees. Easy to miss. Located between mile marker 202 and 203. Parking is on a gravel area on the left side of the road. If you go past mile marker 203 you’ve gone too far.

Rated: moderate/difficult, rocky, some areas steep
3.6 miles out and back
Start elevation: 10,450 ft., Top elevation: 11,400 ft.
Open to hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, dispersed camping, fishing
Dog friendly

Within the Salida Ranger District, located at 5575 Cleora Road, Salida, CO. 81201

Happy Trails…

Visit San Isabel National Forest, for information on camping and any restrictions.

Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you) and you get an awesome product, I appreciate the support.