dogs on leash
This hike was a blast. Relatively easy and not too much traffic. You do have to park on the side of the road and walk a little ways to get to the trail, but the hike is gorgeous and the lake at the top is beautiful also! Not one of the prettiest lakes I've ever seen, but still definitely worth it.
We drove and parked on the side of the road. There is a makeshift "roadblock" meaning a pile of snow which blocks access to Hessie Road from town. You can put your snowshoes on, and hike about 0.75 miles to the Hessie Trailhead (turn left for Hessie, versus right for 4th of July trail). From there, you hike a mile to the Lost Lake turnoff. Then it's about another 0.5 miles uphill to Lost lake. There is a nice base of snow for snow-shoeing the whole way. At the beginning on the road, it was very windy and cold. Once you get on the trail, the trees provide shelter and cut the wind. Bring a backlava to cover your face! I's overall a very nice, moderate winter hike!
I love this trail! If you're looking to try out some higher elevation hikes, this one is pretty great. I've only ever hiked it about half way, which is roughly 6 miles round trip, but it's still substantial and offers beautiful views.
From the Rainbow Lakes Campground, the trail starts out easy/moderate, then as you go along the Boulder Watershed it levels out quite a bit for probably about a mile, give or take. It's a lovely walk through the woods. Then you'll hit some switchbacks and start gaining that elevation. The switchbacks end right as you break tree line, and the views are spectacular. From there if you go up and over that first little hill out to the switchback, you'll get a great view of the watershed, glacier, and Arapaho peaks. It's BEAUTIFUL. If you're looking to do only about half of the full 12-mile trail, this is a great turnaround point (it's actually a little less than half, but still a good stretch). I've taken it maybe a mile further, but was unfortunately turned around by the weather (actually, 2 of the 3 times I've hiked it, I've encountered bad weather, so use caution in the summer time once you break that tree line).
Otherwise, the wild flowers are on point in the spring/summer, it's never really busy, and Nederland is super close for a delicious post-hike beer at Very Nice. Oh and the dirt road leading to the trailhead is about 5 miles of extra rugged driving, so just make sure to take a proper vehicle.
Its a great snowshoeing trail, very popular in winter. Most people on the hessie trail are hiking this trail, however there are a lot of trails that split off from this one that are worth checking out and tend to have much less traffic. The few times I snowshoed devils thumb trail I was completely alone once I broke off the trail to lost lake.