Explore the most popular horseback riding trails in Roosevelt National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

we went on a Monday and arrived around 11 am, only saw two other people and some campers that we're across from the trailhead but definitely not high traffic. i agree it was a little confusing to arrive to but the directions helped, stay left at the fork and keep going uphill. also like other people said, it is really downhill the way out, so the way back be prepared it's a long way up! great trail, looking forward to doing it again !

I'm guessing the hard rating is based on the minor scrambling required to get to the upper lakes. Overall a great hike with 4 gorgeous lakes. Saw some people braving the cold water and had wished I packed some extra clothes to jump in as well. Even though there's a decent amount of traffic on the trail, it didn't feel overly crowded and everyone I encountered was friendly and courteous.

What an amazing hike! Its really easy with a bit of a strong incline right before blue lake. Super dog and kid friendly plus there is plenty of space at the lake to hang out.

We hiked the trail down to the lake and then on beyond down to a stream (dashed trail on the map ending in the red dot). Initially, we thought we would ride our bikes on the trail but they are fairly steep with quite a bit of loose rock. As others have said, the last half mile or so of the drive in in fairly rough. We were in a SUV that handled the road well, but a car in front of us nearly got stuck. The trail down to the creek is very steep and covered in dense growth of Lodge Pines, Quaking Aspens and Birch. It's beautiful but hardly "easy." The area was surprisingly crowded for as remote as it it. Several campers took the No Camping within 100' of the Lake Shore sign as merely a suggestion.

Tip: The trail down to the stream is sort of hidden behind the big pile of boulders at the north end of the lake. The trail appears to dead-end into the boulder pile but, in fact, it does not. You just have to climb over the boulders and continue on the trail heading south.

Great trail. Not hard until you start up to the upper lake. I would note that there are two trails up to the upper lake. If you go between the lakes and up, it’s pretty steep and you will end up climbing a lot of boulders. You will not follow the trail on all trails. You’ll end up to the left of the trail but will still reach the lake. You have to go around the lower big lake a bit to reach the actual trail (the one you find on all trails). It’s steep (maybe not as bad as the other way). Both trails have been travels a bunch so marked.

Trail was pretty but not sure I would do it again. Long dirt rocky road to get to the trail. Don’t not necessarily need a high clearance vehicle or 4wd. HUGE parking lot so you don’t have to worry about getting a spot. Probably holds 50 cars.

Beautiful hike worth the climb to the upper
Lake. Great hike to break for lunch at the halfway point.

on Lion Gulch Trail

hiking
6 days ago

This was such a beautiful trail the 2nd week in October! It was dry enough that the steeper inclines were easier and had enough debris to grip to. We took our pup with and she loved it too! So calming crossing the Little Thompson river.

Trail was beautiful. Had some friends from out of town so we didn’t go to Little Blue Lake, but Mitchell and Blue Lake were amazing. Lots of little lakes in between them as well. Top parking lot was full even on a Monday morning, so get there early or prepare to hike from a lower lot.

Lovely little trail, lots of fall color right now. Saw a few people but mostly had the trail to myself. Easy enough for my short-legged dog to tag along. I didn't see a lot of poop bags like others have complained about and found this trail to be very enjoyable. Will definitely be coming back and would bring out of state friends!

Travel about 7 miles on the East Portal Inlet/Tolland dirt road out of Rollinsville, CO to the Moffat Tunnel. The road is a bit rough in spots, but easily traveled with a 2WD vehicle. This is a cool tunnel that cuts through the Continental Divide for about 6 miles and ends up on the other side in Winter Park. Once you make it up to the two lakes, by climbing up the steep talus and dirt trail to the upper Crater Lake, you get a beautiful view of this section of the Divide and the lake which has a deep green tint reflecting the peaks above. We saw quite a few marmots in the talus field on the way back down to the lower Crater Lakes and a beautiful panoramic view of that area below and the surrounding mountains. Take your time with this easy scramble because of the scree and loose rock. Our retrievers made the up and down just fine. We camped at the east lake and filtered water from there. It’s crowded for the hike up from the trailhead, but most are day hikers. The Saturday night we camped, there were probably about 3-4 other groups camping overnight along with us in other camp areas. You can pick your own campsite, but it’s encouraged to use a place already camped before obviously. The trail is rated as Hard, but I would say that would be for the upper lake trek where it’s much steeper, but a fun scramble, than the hike up to the two lower Crater Lakes. I really enjoyed this trail especially since you don’t need a permit for an overnight. At this time of year several of the streams were dry under the bridge crossings, but there still is a waterfall, and another good running stream on the way up besides the lake for water. The aspens were changing colors making for a beautiful hike. I’ll do this one again!

A beautiful walk through the forest with minimal elevation gain, but some areas of moderately rocky/uneven footing. Shade is plentiful throughout.

One of my favorite hikes! It’s been said before, but the last mile or so is difficult if you take the steep route. We had to take quite a few breaks along that stretch.

hiking
10 days ago

Did this in September. Great short hike, dog loved it too. Starts out shaded, but can be hot at the top by mid day. Views at the top are great of the surrounding mountains and valley below. The trailhead parking area isn’t well marked, but follow the directions on here and it’ll take you straight there. Steep trail, good workout.

Beautiful. Easy, rocky terrain, added 2 miles by going all the way to the bowl

hiking
11 days ago

not recommended. if you don't like first quarter mile you won't like trail because it's about the same. No views or panoramas at all. Quite gloomy and closed in the whole way. Main reason to do this trail would be to link to Lost Lake at end of this trail but that's another 4.4 miles or to join Boundary Trail back to Cows Creek but best of luck doing that one! Just done Lawn Lake which is better in every respect. Try that one first

backpacking
11 days ago

found a perfect spot to hang a hammock

Pretty easy half day hike. You’ll enjoy many streams, ponds, waterfalls along the way!

Pretty good trail. First part to Mitchell lake had very little elevation gain. Between Mitchell and Blue lake, it got rocky and had more of a steady elevation gain. Didn’t try to get to little blue lake as I had my dogs with me and didn’t want to ruin their feet. Saw a moose in one of the fields between Mitchell and blue. Started at 730am and there were only a few other cars at the trailhead. When I started back, saw a lot of people and trailhead lot was full when I got back to my car around 1030. Would suggest starting early if you’re not a fan of crowds.

hiking
13 days ago

Great trail. Our group actually went up to Lost Lake and a day trip to the glacier near Lake Louise. Great times.

One of my favorite trails for trail running. Not super difficult but a nice workout. Pretty views!

Great hike. Heavily used. Plenty of camp spots around lower crater lake. Highly recommend walking up the short but steep trail to upper crater lake.

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful hike with river, meadows and Mountain views with very few other hikers

Love this hike! Got kinda steep but very doable in 2 hours. The lakes are gorgeous. When the Creek is high there are stunning waterfalls

It was a steep climb and real leg burner but was beautiful. We were the only on the trail which was great!

mountain biking
15 days ago

A bit difficult going uphill on the bike unless you're good with super technical / steep climbs. Down hill was a blast tho. Only saw a couple other bikes on the trail, but it was a Monday morning so..

We hiked this trail on Saturday and really enjoyed it. It’s a bit of a drive even from Boulder, but the road up to Roosevelt National Forest is very pretty. You’ll want to park at the Mitchell Lake trailhead, which as it turns out is where there was parking still available around 9am.
The trail to the lake is quite beautiful and you are surrounded by evergreen trees and vegetation. You will see many colors, especially hiking in September. There are also many viewpoints throughout the hike prior to the lake. The trail itself isn’t very steep or long (about 2.2 miles to the lake) and could be easily done by someone coming from sea level.
The lake is beautiful and the views are spectacular. I would definitely recommend coming with a wind proof jacket, as it was quite windy and cold by the lake. Be sure to also walk around to the other side of the lake to see the views that way.
We tried to hike to Little Blue Lake, but there’s no real “trail” or where most people walk, so it’s a bit of a guessing game on a pretty steep incline while traversing across rocks. I wouldn’t recommend trying to get there without downloading the map or with dogs, as it’s pretty difficult to navigate them across the rocks.
All in, it is a fairly easy hike with with great views!

hiking
16 days ago

This trail is very approachable for beginners or those with children. There is very little elevation gain, and the majority of the path is either flat gravel or slightly rocky in spots with the occasional root to step over.

We loved all of the placards along the way that tell the history of each site (including a mining camp, a homestead farmhouse, and some Switzerland Trail railroad history). It felt very much like we were in an outdoor museum with a variety of "exhibits" amidst the natural beauty of the surrounding woods and meadows.

Highly recommended!

Fantastic scenery through several different alpine environments

Came here with my partner and dog. we are 20 somethings that live at 5000+ ft altitude and are not in fantastic shape. This was very challenging for me. More so the length than the hike itself. The view by the sign in the valley was more stunning than the top view. we came here labor day weekend and got stuck in all the Estes traffic but only saw about 6 people on the trail.

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