Lost Lake is an accessible 4-mile (approximate) hike to a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by the mountains of Indian Peaks. Just over one hour northwest of Denver, the trail up to lost lake takes you along the course of Middle Boulder creek, a slide waterfall, a set of tumbling cascades, and a variety of wildflowers that decorate the borders of the trail, the creeksides, and the small meadows that open up along the trail. In the winter months, the trail up to Lost Lake makes for a good snowshoeing route and cross-country trail. trail (though it’s a bit steep on the way up
While we categorize Lost Lake as a family-friendly hike and a great trail to take in the changing colors of Fall, it’s important to know that the hike is uphill and demanding up to its destination. Explore the full Lost Lake hike profile below for trail map, driving directions, and more tips and details to help you enjoy this adventure in Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Trail Snapshot: Lost Lake Trail near Nederland, Colorado
|Hike Distance||Approx. 4 miles Round Trip|
|Duration||Approx 3 hrs|
|Trail Type||Out and Back|
|Elevation Gain||Approx +1144′|
|Dogs||Allowed On Leash|
|Hike Trail Map||Click for a Map of Lost 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 lake, creek, waterfalls, wildflowers, columbine, Indian paintbrush, aspen groves, fall colors|
|Activities||Hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, camping, fishing, lunch|
Parking & Trailhead Information for Lost Lake Hike
Parking is very limited at the Hessie Trailhead, so be sure to take some time to review these details before departing for your hike. Because the Hessie trailhead is one of the most popular in the state, Boulder County offers a 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 see the Boulder County page for the shuttle service. This shuttle departs from the RTD Park-n-Ride in Nederland.
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.
The Hike: Lost Lake Trail
If taking the shuttle, it will drop you off at the 2WD parking area. From here, hikers will follow a trail for that runs along the north side of the 4WD dirt road. The trail runs past a small pond and will keep to the right-side of the 4WD Hessie Trailhead road until it arrives at the official trailhead. Keep your eyes peeled for Moose who frequent these waterlogged meadows along this lowland segment of the trail. At approximately 1/2 mile from the shuttle drop, a sign marks the site of the old mining town of Hessie, Colorado.
Soon, the trail will cross the North Fork of Middle Boulder Creek via a footbridge and a large sign will map and describe the several trails and destinations that can be accessed from this point. Hikers will continue on this old mining road as it leads uphill towards both Lost Lake and the intersection for the trails that lead to Devil’s Thumb Lake, Jasper Lake, Woodland Lake, King Lake, and Bob and Betty Lakes. This trail profile will describe the route to Lost Lake only.
The next 1.2 miles climbs by way of switchbacks over rocky and steep terrain. Wildflowers pepper the trailsides and the riparian zone along Middle Boulder Creek. At the first trail intersection (Devils Thumb and Devils Thumb Bypass Trails), a sign will mark the way to Lost Lake and give distances and point the direction to the other destinations. Here the trail to Lost Lake will go left and cross another footbridge. Soon, a waterfall and set of cascades will come into view. The trail will make its way to a second intersection and sign. Here, the trail for Lost Lake departs, once again, to the left.
From this point, Lost Lake is just 1/2 mile away. It’s a steep segment but worth the views when you arrive. At Lost Lake, hikers can explore the outside circuit of its shores (this will add both time and distance to the hike). Return via the same trails.
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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Lost Lake Trail
- TIP: Parking is very limited at the trailhead, so try to arrive before 7am. Review trailhead information above for seasonal weekend and holiday shuttle from Nederland.
- 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.
- TIP: The trail is rocky so it would be a good idea to bring trekking poles.
- Trail Map for Lost Lake Trail: Trail Map Link
- 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 Tim and Brad Fagan and Eric Frazier for sharing photographs of this hike on Lost Lake.
- After the Hike: Sundance Cafe, Nederland