Explore the most popular lake trails in Collegiate Peaks Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

On 5/12/18 backpacked up to the lake. The snow made it pretty miserable for the last 1.5 miles. We were falling in waist deep. There was hardly any areas without snow to camp out at, but found a spot surrounded by trees to help block out some wind. We were the only souls out there that I know of. No one or animal in sight. The next morning walked to the lake to enjoy the gorgeous view. The hike back was not as bad because we already made the footprints to step in and the snow hardened so at times it was ok to walk on top of.

Didn’t make it all the way to the lake because of snow making the trail hard to follow. Beautiful

beautiful hike, about 3 miles up ran into deep snow drifts and turned around. Need to go back in a couple months.

hiking
13 days ago

Wow
Was doing training for COLORADO Trail this summer
Took full 27 pound pack for training
Perfect weather
Really tiring elevation change
Had snow n ice on trail
Got worst as you went higher
Turned around about have away
Did not want to take a chance of slipping n falling with full pack
Great signage

I really enjoyed the views of Mt Yale on our way back from the lake. There were some deep snowdrifts that we had to posthole through on the stretch between the lake and the Browns Pass junction but the trail was clear below that.

Did this in mid October, no people and snow once we got to the old cabin. A nice trip for a two night camp

camping
27 days ago

awesome overnighter hike to take it easy. theres sites close to the lake. beautiful crystal clear streams feeding the lake and draining. I made it a 2 nighter and went up to bear lake the next day. camped in the horn fork basin area..breathtaking views of the collegiate peaks when you get up to bear lake. from bear you can summit mt. Harvard. one of my fave hikes in the collegiate peaks. plenty of water sources.

We hiked this trail today (3/17/18) and it was stunning! Thanks to people who have been up blazing the trail to the lake. If not for the packed snow we might have gotten off track. We used crampons that were very helpful for entire hike. Snowshoes not necessary right now. The last .25 mile before the lake we post holed quite a bit, but the views were worth the snowy boots. Gorgeous day, with minimal wind. Love taking people from out of town here for a difficult, but rewarding hike!

great views the whole way up
well worth the effort

Lovely trail today even in November after thanksgiving! Need some spikes but probably not snow shoes yet!

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike to get the blood flowing. I got a late start Friday the 27th. I was hoping to make it to the lake but with the heavy pack and not being acclimated to this Colorado elevation, it took its toll. Luckily there are multiple camping spots along the way. The last mile and a half seemed to have fewer camping spots though so just a heads up. Plenty of places to get water and the elevation gain is steady. I made it to the lake the next morning. It is already starting to freeze over. Was hoping to fish but it was too windy to cast and it was at least 15 degrees colder than 1 trail mile down. Great looking spot though! My dog lived the hike too!

backpacking
7 months ago

10/15/17

Challenging hike to the summit, but manageable at this time of year. Shouldn’t be much trouble during the summer. We hiked with our overnight packs to the end of the timberline and set up camp. Then, we finished the hike with a light pack to the top and returned to our camp before sundown. Amazing views. Lots of wildlife. We will definitely be back.

camping
7 months ago

Horn Fork Basin is my favorite place in the state to be.
So much can be done in a 2-3 day stretch.
Harvard is a must as well as Bear Lake nearby.
love love love.

hiking
7 months ago

Decent work to get there and the pay off once there well worth it. Fur kids enjoyed it too!

Beautiful trail. We had planned on camping at Bear Lake but that high above tree line left a great deal of exposure and no wood for fire, or winbreaks. We camped slightly south of the lake, plenty of good spots.

hiking
8 months ago

This was such a lovely hike. Mostly shaded trail, and lots of water crossings. Steady incline so it was work but you couldn't really tell. Lake at the top was pretty with lots of camping. Way back down isn't too bad on your knees because of the gradual hike. Would do this again for sure!

backpacking
8 months ago

Beautiful hike.
Most of the trail is tree covered.
Many water crossing, bridged and natural. I think I counted around 7.
Camping spots near the lake, however I believe some are too close.
Firewood is scarce.
If you have any questions I'm on Facebook messenger.

hiking
8 months ago

A great trail with a very pretty lake at the end. The trail is in good shape and a long but steady climb. Not real difficult but not easy either. Good day hike.

Beautiful long and hard trail Bring good shoes and poles lots of rocks and steep going down at the end

hiking
8 months ago

Beautifully maintained trail, spectacular scenery, perfect level of physical challenge for me. But the last 20 feet of elevation to the summit requires true climbing, so be ready.

Enjoyed this hike! We only saw 2 other groups of hikers. The drive to the trail head is 4 miles of 4wd dirt road. You pass through the Lincoln Creek Camp ground. At the beginning of the trail there is a creek crossing, I recommend bringing water shoes unless you want to hike in wet shoes. Beautiful hike with very few people.

hiking
9 months ago

Fantastic, definitely need an AWD vehicle. Only saw one person on the trail all day.

hiking
9 months ago

Excellent hike on a great trail! Several stream crossings on logs...hiking poles come in very handy. A few muddy/boggy areas but passable. It seemed much longer than the listed mileage. Ptarmigan Lake is an easier hike for sure!

hiking
9 months ago

Wow. So much fabulousness.

This hike immediately starts with a wet stream crossing of Lincoln Creek. It was up to my knees so there was no keeping the shoes dry. If you're planning ahead, you could change into river sandals but there was a lot of water further up too so not sure it would be worth it. After the creek crossing, the trail is moderately steep with loose rocks and pebbles. After crossing the aqueduct road (wouldn't it be nice if the trailhead were up there?), the trail crosses into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and continues to ascend through a pine forest.

The trail then opens into a long valley with fabulous wildflower meadows. The valley is marshy (not the trail tho), which means there's a fair amount of bugs. Bug spray to the rescue!

Right before I reached a set of wildly picturesque unnamed alpine lakes, the trail basically petered away totally. Since I knew my destination was the pass and since I had my app, I was able to continue on easily. Once I achieved the pass, I had a view of another couple unnamed alpine lakes on the other side and was able to suss out where Anderson and Petroleum Lakes were hidden from view one valley further.

I saw no one else all day. Wilderness indeed.

One of the favorites with the family

backpacking
10 months ago

Not for the novice hiker. Lots of elevation gain and loose rock on the trail. Expect to get your feet wet. Beautiful hike with wildflowers, lakes and valleys.

Well maintained, very forest-like but when views opened up it was prodigious. Not as hard as the ptarmigan lake trail, less steep (or at least it felt like it).

Great hike, was planning it as a quick overnight backpack trip, ended up doing it as a day hike; 1.5 hours up and 1 hour down (no pack) and we were at a good clip. Beautiful hike not very strenuous and amazing views at the lake. Great morning.

Hiked on 7/21/17, previous comments about trees etc, trail crews have clearly been working here, no problems, there are a couple stream crossings and muddy areas, I was just in trail runners and returned home with dry feet (though could have easily slipped in if not careful.)
Also, got to trail head in a Prius, couple spots were slow going but nothing bad. Have fun!

Beautiful hike. Rocky trail. Not steep until you reach timberline. Toughest part begins just after you pass bear lake and climbing the final boulders before reaching the summit. We suggest getting to the trailhead early as the hike round trip is 14 miles not 12, and the summit takes more time to reach then anticipated because of the rock climb at the end. Also, wearing good trail shoes with good traction is important.

I've done this in the winter and summer. Summertime I've done the trail to Hartenstein Lake w/ my son and his friends when they were about 11. Personally I don't think it should be rated difficult unless you take the trail up to Yale. It was a fun first "real camping" trip for the kids.
In the winter if you're going to do it bring your snow shoes even if there is no snow down at the TH. I made this mistake once (LOL!!) and wound up postholing a good 2 miles in waste deep snow with my dog. That was a treat. Fun trail otherwise.
**** update*** I've done this trail numerous times over the years (winter/ summer) but never have I seen it as crowded as I did this past Wednesday- Friday(7/19-7/21)!!!! Trails are all getting crowded. On the plus side no one was camping out at the lake. It POURED out Wednesday night. Got up early and saw a moose on the other side of the lake before the hoardes started hiking up. All my times up there I've never seen one. Great to see with my son.

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