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If you are planning to complete the loop in a day , I would recommend start early. If you are not acclimated to the high altitude then it is a lot harder then it seems. Take plenty of breaks and drink a lot of water.

Me and my pup loved this like - 2 lakes you can stop at, the perfect views 360, steady incline after you pass the last lake but it is so worth it! It’s all exposed so make sure you start early. I was there at 7:15am on a Sunday and plenty of parking. Like others said, it has its own parking lot!

Such a nice, smooth trail up, over and along the Divide. Always love this one!

hiking
3 days ago

Hiked this route on Friday, September 21 on a clear sunny day when Denver was in the 80's. I arrived at the parking lot at 6.45 and was the first car there. Saw no one along the route until close to the first summit (there are two "summits") so my thought of being the first to the top that day were dashed. The hike to the first lake is easy and there is a second lake about half a mile further on. On reaching that lake I lost the path and so bushwacked up a steep slope to the left of the lake. I eventually reached the main track again. What I should have done was to turn left along the trail marked South Park 160 at the first lake. A short way along this track is the junction point for the start of the real ascent to Square Top Mountain. I only realized this during my return journey. From the lakes the hike is a real grunt up a steep slope. This will test your legs and fitness. I am 65 so my days of long hard hikes are coming to an end but I am proud to still be fit enough for this one. I had to stop frequently on the way up for short (30-60 second) breathers. We are talking about 13000 feet here so that should be no surprise even though I have lived at altitude for the last 30 years. The trail is not always well marked or easy to see and it is easy to end up tramping across the tundra - something I was loathe to do but there wasn't much choice about this. On reaching the first rocky summit the views are so amazing that one is tempted to stop right there. My All Trails app indicated that the end of the trail was further on at the second peak. That peak looks quite a ways off but it only took 15 minutes to get there and the extra uphill was a lot easier than it looked. I do tend to stop for photographs so my journey times are longer than if I solely hiked the route. I took 3 1/2 hours to get to the top and 2h 20 minutes to come down. The down part is about right but without stopping for photos I reckon 3 hours to the top would be more accurate. The descent will test your quads. I saw no large wildlife (bummer) but the solitude I had on this hike was totally worth it. Bierstadt was so much more crowded even at 6.45am. Ah the naiivety of youth! All in all, this is a quiet and beautiful hike although I rate it as HARD, at least by my standards.

It was beautiful, once we got to the top me and my friend decided to climb to the highest point we could. Which was passed the pile of boulders was the height point. Someone left a water proof container and named the peak Mt. Chuck. It had funny notes and quotes.

Great hike, tough on lungs and legs. No scrambling at all. The pup loved it as it wasn’t all too rocky until the summit

Good trail. Did this for my first backpacking trip and had a great time. Being from the Midwest, it took me some time to adjust to the altitude, which made the hike a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. The first 1.5 miles on the Salmon Lake trail is grueling, particularly after we had hiked close to 8 miles before (we did a portion of the Rock Creek trail in the morning). Found a few great campsites toward the top with views of distant peaks and closer ones. Great for the sunset and sunrise. We even had a moose walk through our campsite. The views at the top are breathtaking and well worth the hike.

There is a point about mile 5 where you are walking in a blown out area filled with dead and fallen trees. The trail remained very clear (had to climb over a few) but I would be wary of doing this section on a windy day for fear of falling trees.

In all, a great experience.

We only hiked about 4.5 miles of this trail since we got on the road a little later than expected. Still a beautiful hike, is mostly a steep incline for the first couple miles so I would recommend being prepared for that. There’s a really pretty waterfall around mile 2(ish) off to the side. Would definitely like to go back and go backpacking!

As noted by others, the real trail is a bit different than the one listed on here, but the real trail is easy to follow and well marked, about 4 miles to the lake from the trailhead. In mid September, the trail had tons of beautiful foliage lining the ground and lush greenery for most of the hike. We also only ran into a handful of people — definitely not a busy trail this time of year. The lake itself is incredible. So clear and serene. Some backcountry camping spots are also available around the lake. I’ll definitely be back soon!

this trail was amazing. parked at the trail head the night before and slept in my car. the lakes were cool and the summit even better. went on a Saturday and only ran into a handful of hikers. when we got back to the parking lot it was packed with the bierstadt crowd. definitely recommend for a challenging, rewarding, and less crowded hike.

Amazing trail with fantastic view at the end! Not a full 8 miles around the lake, we did the full thing and it came out to under 7 with a lot of exploring. Absolutely breathtaking views at the end. The trail is pretty flat, with maybe max of 0.5 miles uphill. Great for out of towners. Parking fills up early, be prepared to walk extra mileage if you’re after 9 even on a weekday.
Lots of moose in the area, spotted two at the lake on the way in.

Great trail with scenic views! We hiked counterclockwise and camped one night at Devils Thumb Lake. You have to have a permit durning the summer months up until Sept 15th. We camped on 9/7 and the temperature at night got down to around 30 - 31 degrees so make sure you have the correct gear even in early September. The first part of the trail going counter clockwise with a 35lb - 40lb pack can be difficult on some of the climbs in elevation, take breaks and drink plenty of water and you’ll be fine. There are plenty of water opportunities on the trail, so accessing water isn’t an issue for the most part. The ascend up from Devils Thumb Lake to the High Lonesome Trail has some great views you climb about 1,000 feet over approx a 1/2 - 3/4 mile. The rest of the trail after you come down off the High Lonesome Trail by King Lake you’ll be going down in elevation the remainder of the time. The overall trail is marked “ok” but recommend having a map or gps as back up, I would not rely on the trail markers only when hiking this trail. Great 15 + mile trail with beautiful views......go get some!!

Great hike and not crowded. We got to the trail head around 7 am, once you pass the lower lake and go around on the trail, the trail is hard to find/see (we could see the trail above - we just started hiking up until we found it again). Great incline in a short period of time. You do hit a couple false summits as well. Great views at the top.

16 days ago

Some scrambling needed at the top, otherwise great hike

My family hiked this today. My kids would give this 3 stars! It was a hard hike and the summit was interesting but not the most beautiful hike we have ever been on. We definitely feel a sense of accomplishment.

hiking
21 days ago

Beautiful and uncrowded. View from the summit is fantastic. Encountered a herd of Mountain Goats at the top. A few sections of the trail to the summit are faintly marked and steep.

It was a good hike with some beautiful views. The lake itself is gorgeous and serene. Be forewarned that the trail map both on here and on Google Maps does not accurately reflect the path up to the lake; it seems that the trail may have been redone. Definitely more moderate than hard.

This was my first experience backpacking and while the trail was challenging it was within reach for a 54-year-old first timer. Varied terrain, stream crossings, waterfalls, and gorgeous views. Spent the night by Salmon Lake, had a clear evening and the stars were amazing. We only passed and few hikers and felt like we had the mountain to ourselves. The forest service did an amazing job clearing down trees and as others have said, mosquitos were aggressive at sunset. What a great experience.

I love love love this trail! 15+ miles of breathtaking views, minimal traffic (at least early on a weekday and compared to 14ers) and many runnable trails (except rocky bottom and steep top). I will definitely be back!

Difficult, but worth it. The views are stunning as well as the wild flowers. If you have poles, they would be helpful. Much of the hard climb is shaded in the trees.
Generally pups are off leash, so bringing a leash aggressive dog will give you undo stress on this gorgeous trek. Otherwise there's plenty of streams for the dogs along the way.
Grab your water, suncreen, bugspray and enjoy!

Hit the Trailhead by 6:30 AM, parking had just begun to overflow. Beautiful day, heavier foot traffic as the afternoon stretched on. I’d recommend this hike during the week when crowds would be thinner. A great way to enjoy Colorado. Saw several moose, a couple deer, and a handful of marmots.

hiking
29 days ago

I bet there aren’t a half dozen hikes this visually
stunning in all of Colorado.

For a Saturday in the summer, the trail didn’t feel crowded at all above Lake Isabel. We arrived at 630 am and Long Lake TH had one final parking spot.

Gaining 2100 or so over 4.5 miles sounds more like a moderate hike, rather than hard. But then you do it. Because so much of the vertical is in that last 1.5 miles to the pass, it’s a lung buster to the finish. The terrain is rocky but completely non-technical or more complicated than a few talus crossings. That being said, I was glad to have trekking poles for the descent.

hiking
1 month ago

More like 12 miles including (pleasant) hike from day use area. You should just plan on that and count yourself lucky if you get a spot at Long Lake trailhead. We arrived 830 on Saturday, but suspect a lot are gone to overnighters.

Busy trail but we'll worth it. Please think about taking leash reactive dogs to other trails! This one is popular and narrow in places. It must be exhausting to have to so actively manage their behavior every few minutes.

Never seen Lake Isabelle so dry! First pond was empty in late August. Main part still had water and was as beautiful as always. Trail past the lake gets significantly tougher both up and down, so allow time.

Well worth the trip! As a 52-year old flatlander I got really winded toward the top. I recommend getting acclimated to the elevation before going. That said, it was absolutely gorgeous and the view from the top was just stunning. The roundtrip took us just over 5 hours with about 30-minute lunch break on top and a little lollygagging on the way down. We saw two moose cows and a calf along the way.

Looking at the map here, looks like I didn't make it the full way... so definitely be prepared for false summits! Still making it about 3/4 of the way, I found the hike easier than what it's rated. It's uphill, but a steady, small incline. On a Saturday morning, I probably passed 10-15 people going up? Not busy at all and nice to get away from crowds.

Great hike overall! The views were killer and the hike was moderate during most parts, but some parts were strenuous specifically when coming up over the top of the pass. We hiked counter clockwise so the last 7 or so miles was downhill. If you do camp anywhere along this trail a permit is required and a bear canister is definitely recommended.

The hike was challenging at points but nothing a person acclimated to elevation couldn't handle with breaks. Easy one night loop the way we went. The Thai restaurant in Nederlands is a stop everyone should take for the lunch deal

Such an amazing hike! My friend and I arrived late on a Sunday, at 10am, and the parking was already full. We parked next to the road closer to town and walked up to the trailhead. That walk-in/out plus the hike took us the entire day - until 8pm - and we enjoyed every minute of it. The first section had us walking through a stream of water which had taken over the road, but once we got through that the trail was dry and easy to follow. Brilliant views the whole way, beautiful terrains which changed every few hours, lots of lakes and picturesque mountains.

I don’t know if the mileage All Trails has is correct. The U.S.Forest Service lists this as an 8.2 mile hike. Regardless, it’s gorgeous! I went on a Wednesday morning and had Isabelle Lake and Isabelle Glacier’s tarn all to myself. I didn’t do the scramble past the tarn to the official glacier. I had my dogs and lost the trail a little, plus it was very foggy and I didn’t want to get lost. Honestly, just the views as you hike up from the lake to the glacier are all you need. Also, hiking to the tarn (or the third lake) is good enough... don’t really need to see a snowbank. Be careful as the trail can be muddy and hard to follow after the lake (clearly gets much less traffic) and make sure you feel comfortable with the final scramble to the glacier. The Indian Peaks are gorgeous and this is officially one of my top 5 Colorado hikes!

Nice out and back.

I did this trail about a week ago and it was so beautiful! the steep parts were a little difficult but nothing extremely hard. I think it would be too long for little kids to summit, but making it to the waterfalls would be easy

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