Jasper Lake requires a 5.5-mile (one-way) hike into the mountainous, wildflower-laden Indian Peaks Wilderness. Just 40 minutes outside of Boulder Colorado and about 1hr 15 minutes from Denver, the trail to Jasper Lake gets its start at the Hessie Trailhead. Travel an additional mile beyond Jasper to see Devils Thumb, a striking rock formation that looms above Devil’s Thumb Lake. Explore the full Jasper Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Trail Snapshot: Jasper Lake Trail
|Hike Distance||11 Miles Round Trip|
|Duration||Approx 6-7 hrs|
|Trail Type||Out and Back|
|Elevation Gain||Approx +2175′|
|Seasons||May through Sept.|
|Dogs||Allowed On Leash|
|Hike Trail Map||Click for a Map of Jasper Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness|
|Denver Drive Time||1 hr 15min|
|Driving Directions to Hessie Trailhead||Click for Google Map|
|Driving Directions to Shuttle Parking in Nederland||Click for Google Map|
|Hessie Shuttle Details||@ Boulder County Hessie Page|
|Town Nearest Hike||Nederland, Colorado|
|Beauty||alpine lakes, waterfalls, meadows, creek, wildflowers, aspen groves, fall colors, wildlife: moose|
|Activities||Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, camping (by permit only), fishing|
Parking & Trailhead Information for Jasper Lake Hike
The parking at Hessie Trailhead is limited, so be sure to take some time to review these details before departing for your hike to Jasper Lake. There is a free shuttle that runs from Nederland every 15-20 minutes on weekends during the Summer months and on some holidays. For full details on the Hessie Trailhead Shuttle, please visit the Boulder County page for the Hessie Trailhead shuttle service. This shuttle departs from the RTD Park-n-Ride in Nederland, CO.
Directions to Hessie Trailhead
At the roundabout in Nederland, Colorado, drive south onto CO-119/South Bridge St. Take a right onto Eldora Road which will take you to Elodora Colorado. The road continues through Eldora, and changes to Eldorado Road. It proceeds out of town and changes its name to Hessie Road. About 3/4 of a mile outside of Eldora, the road will split, 4th of July Road goes to the right, and Hessie will turn to the left. The 2WD Hessie Trailhead Parking area is at this split. Do not park alongside the road, as you will likely be fined. If the parking area is full, then go back to Nederland for the shuttle (weekends and holidays). There is parking for 4WD vehicles further up the dirt road and closer to the beginning of the official trail. It’s important to know that rains can quickly flood this segment of Hessie Road between the 2WD and 4WD trailheads.
The Hike: Jasper Lake Trail
Most hikers will begin the hike up to Jasper lake at the Hessie 2WD parking area. This adds about 1 mile to the total hike distance, making this an 11-mile hike (round-trip). It’s also where the shuttle drops off hikers. At the 2WD parking area, pick up the trail that runs along the north side of the 4WD dirt road. The trail will take you within view of a small pond. Moose frequent the wetlands on this segment of the trail, so be alert–you may get a chance to snap some photos of them.
At approximately 1/2 mile from the shuttle drop, a sign marks the site of the old mining town of Hessie, Colorado. The trail then crosses a footbridge over Middle Boulder Creek. Soon after the bridge, you’ll find the official trailhead signage. Because this is a longer hike into demanding terrain, we recommend Trails Illustrated: Indian Peaks Wilderness map for this hike.
The Hike: Jasper Lake in Indian Peaks
After crossing the bridge near the trailhead, the trail climbs the mountainside via an old mining road. After 1/4 mile, the forest gives way to a meadow and opens up to panoramic views of the peaks of Indian Peaks. At the first trail intersection, both trail options will take hikers to Jasper Lake, and both options are approximately the same length. The right-hand trail is called the “Devils Thumb Bypass trail” and was created for Spring and Early Summer hikers to help avoid the mud and pools of water created by early season snowmelt. However, the trail leading to the left, the Devils Thumb Trail, will be a more scenic choice.
Small waterfalls and cascades are spotted along the trail as it follows the course of Middle Boulder creek. Indian Peaks Wilderness is known for its brilliant wildflowers that bloom from early to mid-summer. If traveling on the the Devils Thumb (main trail) then you’ll encounter a second intersection marked by signage pointing left to Lost Lake and King Lake, and right for Devils Thumb Lake, Jasper Lake, and Woodland Lake. Taking the right-hand trail continues alongside Middle Boulder Creek and leads up to Jasper Lake.
The next intersection will have a left-hand trail that leads to Woodland Lake and a right-bearing trail that leads to Devils Thumb and Jasper Lakes. This is where the bypass trail joins up to the main trail from the southeast. Now, the terrain becomes more demanding.
About 1/2 mile before arriving at Jasper Lake, a trail sign will point the way northeast to Diamond Lake. However, Diamond Lake is best accessed via the 4th of July Trailhead. Be mindful of the sky when emerging from the forest into the open sections of high-country meadows and tundra. Thunderstorms, during in the Summer months, can come up quickly due to orographic lift, a phenomenon caused by the heated rock faces of our mountains thrusting moisture into the skies along the Front Range.
If the weather is looking good and you’re up to adding two more miles and approximately 1hr to your hike, then continue up the trail to Devils Thumb Lake to gain views and get photos another alpine lake and the rock formation of Devils Thumb that protrudes from the ridgeline.
- Devils Thumb Lake Hike in Indian Peaks
- Diamond Lake Hike in Indian Peaks
- Changing Aspens Hikes Near Denver
- Mt. St. Vrain Hike Near Allenspark, Colorado
Tips & Resources for Hiking to Jasper Lake
- Camping: Camping is allowed by permit only and in designated spots. See the Indian Peaks Alliance page for details.
- USFS Indian Peaks: Camping is allowed by permit only and in designated spots. See the Indian Peaks USFS Page page for details.
- Trekking Poles: Because it’s an 11-mile trek over rocky terrain, we recommend Trekking Poles.
- Parking: Parking is very limited at the Hessie trailhead, so try to arrive before 7am to find a space. Review trailhead information above for seasonal weekend and holiday shuttle service from Nederland.
- Trail Map: Jasper Lake near Nederland
- Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get the list and dayhiking packing checklist.
- Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
- Photo: We would like to express our gratitude to The John and Belinda Bosleyfor sharing photographs of this hike to Jasper Lake
- After the Hike: Train Cars Coffee