Explore the most popular river trails in San Isabel 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.

2 days ago

Our family of four hiked up to the boiler as our first backpacking trip with the kids. Our boys are 8 and 9 and the trail was just about at their max difficulty point on the way up. The uphill sections are broken up with some nice level sections, so it's not too sustained. The stream crossings were a big hit and a mini-adventure each time we got to one. None of the crossings were too hard for the kids to do - just balance on the logs and walk across. The scenery was nice, with a good mix of boulders and trees. There are a good number of fallen trees, some quite recent, but they don't affect hiking on the trail. We saw lots of cool beetles and heard lots of birds.

We made it to the boiler in about 2.5 hours. In that same area are multiple (non-official) campsites. We picked one with some young aspen trees and stream access behind it. It wasn't very far off the trail, but it didn't matter, since no hikers came through after we arrived.

Minor note for those staying overnight: this location must be on a major cross-country airline route. Once the sun went down, we heard airliners going by every few minutes. This definitely took away from feeling you were out in the wilderness. We also heard lots of happy bird noises and a mouse who found some granola in one of the kid's packs.

In the morning we had breakfast, broke down camp, and hiked out in 1.5 hours. It was a pleasant walk out, with a different perspective.

The road in is fine for SUVs and probably most cars. It is only really bumpy after you leave the mountain park (0.9 miles to the trailhead). We passed a road grader smoothing out the road in the mountain park and then hit the somewhat rutted road to the trailhead. I wouldn't hesitate to drive it unless I had a car with low clearance.

11 days ago

Love this hike, but I’ll write a second review to note that the trail that continues past the sawmill gets very difficult to follow! Soon we hope to go mark it better for ours and everyone’s sakes, wouldn’t want anyone getting lost out there. It’s worth the extra mile to the top of the ridge, the path is marked by rock piles (inuksuk) and trail tape VERY SPARSELY! Please be safe and enjoy the beautiful views!

11 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike! Moderate rating on the maintained trail is accurate, though the trail continuing past the sawmill is harder by far and I would urge anyone going further than the sawmill to bring your own trail markers! The trail is sparsely marked after about a half mile. The extra mile is worth it though! Beautiful view of pikes peak.

13 days ago

still lots of snow on the trail... if you don't mind cold wet feet and post holing to your hip, it is stunningly beautiful right now. wildflowers peaking out of snow and lots of snow melt runoff making the creek roar. made it to creek crossing, but too much snow and creek running too high to safely make it across. met a wonderful young couple along the way, thanks Sofia and Kevin (Cooper & Barrett too

Still impassable with snow up to your hips. Only made it s few yards before turning back. Definitely need to wait until June for the snow to melt more.

25 days ago

Beautiful trail, I went up to the lakes yesterday 4/28. After venable falls the trail is snowed out most of the way. I used alltrails offline maps & the sound of venable creek to navigate up to the lakes.

1 month ago

On April 18, 2018, the trail was in excellent shape. No snow or mud. Creek crossings were easy, except one place about a mile and a half in from the trailhead where a large tree has fallen across the south side.
The Alltrails map depicts the trail ending just beyond the sawmill. But actually the trail continues north up the hill another mile or so to the top of the ridge where you can enjoy some breathtaking views of Pikes Peak and the Arkansas Valley. It makes the total round trip almost eight miles (about four hours), but it's worth the extra effort and time.

Would it be a mistake to drive a Nissan Altima the 1.8 miles to the Upper Trailhead?
I’ve watched videos and the road does not look too bad. On the other hand if I got stuck it would be
bad. On the bright side walking the 1.8 miles would be a good warm up. All comments appreciated.
Thank You.

1 month ago

Trail not too bad for early April...a few water crossings & ice/snow cover towards the start but dry for the most part. A few trees over the trail but easy to detour or climb over.

When I was a kid I helped build that cabin. Loved hanging out up there for a few days at a time during summer.

2 months ago

Went 3/21/2018. There was still a little ice on the ground and some of the creek was frozen. Quit a lot of rock and roots in the trail make it easy to trip. It is very easy at time then other times you have knee high rocks to climb over, with a 20foot cliff on one side of you, so I feel averaging it out, moderate was a fair rating Trail seems well maintained and the road had no major issues for my jeep. Took the dog, he got tired halfway up like we did, but still worth getting to the sawmill, and then to top. At a modest pace with a few breaks on the way there and back we did it in about 3.5 hours. Would go again, but most likely just to hike halfway and camp.

03/16: Drove from 800 ft elevation in mid west, stayed overnight in Leadville and started hike early morning from south Mount Elbert trailhead parking (paved road from Leadville). Usual south trail was closed for renovations and there was a new trail that shoots off of the colorado trail further north. Follow the posted directions on the Colorado trail. Just wore winter hiking boots for most part of the hike but there was about a mile stretch where I had use snowshoes. At the tree line left my snow shoes and used only hiking poles there on. The wind grew stronger as I climbed further and had to wear balaclava. The views at the summit are just amazing. It was definitely worthy.

3/12/18-- trail was covered in deep snow, if it weren't packed it would be really tough to find. But fantastic views and extremely challenging!

Awesome trail. Hiked it today 3/4/18.

The road: no problem till the last 1/2 mike where it became muddy, snowy, bumpy. If you were really careful you MIGHT be able to get a regular passenger car all the way to the trail head. I would recommend a high clearance 4wd for the road conditions at this time, or you could just park on the side of the road before you get to the bad spot.

The trail: about 40% mud/ice/snow covered but manageable if you’re fairly sure-footed. Just wear boots/shoes with good traction and be mindful while on the ice. Snow is not deep at all- maybe an inch or two in a few spots.

The time: if you’re a quick hiker- you can make it to the old sawmill (steam engine) in about an hour and fifteen minutes, and back down in an hour or less even with the ice.

Traffic: I went on a Sunday late afternoon and didn’t see anyone for the entire hike. Amazing place , which is evening more amazing considering there was no one there and the drive is only about an hour from Colorado Springs

3 months ago

Beautiful area and really nice hike, the creek was frozen in some areas.

Most of the trail had tree cover, sunscreen optional.

Recommend micro spikes or something similar due to the ice/snow on the trail.

Arrived at the trail-head on around 0900 and parking lot was empty.

A few primitive camping areas along the trail, mostly at the beginning and also near the steam engine. My recording shows the camping spots with pictures.

AllTrails does not have a way to communicate with other outdoor enthusiast, I can be reached on Facebook Messenger if you have any questions about this trail.

Awesome hike for an overnight trip. In August, I was able to just keep refilling my 1 liter nalgene along the trail, there is plenty of water. Trail is well marked and the views are stunning the entire way. The trail gets steep just before the lower basin and can gas your legs. There's a neat little abandoned cabin along the trail after breaking off the Rainbow Trail. I hear there is good fishing up there, but I had no luck.

this trail is the old trail. it closed summer 2017. visit 14ers.com.for the new trail.

5 months ago

hiking the steam engine at the end is awesome

5 months ago

We snowshoed this trail on 11/25/17. The hike is pleasant and protected from wind most of the time and the lake at the top is beautiful, although windy.

The trail had some snow and snowshoes were welcome (especially downhill), but if it were more packed you could potentially just hike in with boots. We followed other people’s tracks most of the way, but had to do a little GPS navigating when their tracks ran out near the top. Once we found the trail it’s pretty clear where to hike because it’s more cleared than the rest of the forest.

Note that the Turquoise Lake road to the trailhead is not plowed, so depending on the amount of snow present or temperatures or vehicle type could affect whether you’re able to drive to the trailhead.

I made it to the top today 11-5-17, it was really windy above tree line, I used micro spikes, gaiters, and trecking poles and had no problems. I would recommend a face mask, the wind and snow gave me an ice beard. I parked about 1/2 mile up the 4x4 road, started at 7:30am made it to the top at 11:30am and back to my truck at 3:45pm. The trail was easy to follow all the way to the top, below tree line there was about 1-2 inches, above the tree line on average it was ankle deep, some spots were wind swept clean other spots were mid shin drifts.

6 months ago

Went on 10/28/17. Trail was snow packed with a couple of inches the entire way but was easy to follow. A simple hike with a nice lake at the end. Take a water dog if you got one. Fall is best - no mud and no bugs.

7 months ago

Started hiking where we parked next to the snowmobile place up this dirt road that you definitely need high4x4 clearance to get up some of the first curves and rocky parts and we walked the road in the forest until you get to boss lake trailhead and then it’s not too far to boss lake from there. Crazy windy by boss lake and got pretty snowy going up higher to continue on towards hunt lake. Didn’t end up making it to hunt lake because of deep snow. Great views looking back to the valley and around boss lake.

We had a great hike, only saw a few others along the way and did not have any tick problems. We took precautions - tick spray, hair tucked into hats, long pants. Checked ourselves, brushed our hair before getting into car. It's truly a beautiful hike and I would recommend it.

October 7, 2017 | need four wheel drive to get to trail head - we had to park about .5 mi from trailhead due to a large rock and decent amount of water on road. Trail was snow covered most of the way up with beautiful views. saw some elk and coyote. definitely harder to navigate the slush on the way down. Wind was too strong to summit but made it to about 13,500 ft in trail runners. Started at 9ish and turned back at 12ish. Can’t wait to try with snow shoes or next summer!

7 months ago

Beautiful alongside creek entire hike. At a very slow pace we did 2 hours up and back but did not make it to end.

Leaves gorgeous! Beware of some fast bike downhillers (not cross country) barreling it down

7 months ago

The river is beautiful and since we were here in October, the Aspens were beautiful too. Trailhead was super easy to find with these directions! 

Really great trail with a perfect alpine lake at the end. When you hit the steep incline you’re almost there.

7 months ago

Wonderful hike with the fall Aspens in bloom. The trail head is a bit further up the forest service road than the marker indicates. The lake was crystal clear and we were the only ones there.

8 months ago

A beautiful clear late summer day with good friends, gold Aspens dotting the surrounding mountainsides and the constant music of a running creek along the well defined path. A moderately demanding hike for 60 something's amateurs trying out their new hiking shoes! The pristine 30-40 acre lake at the end of the trail made it more than worthwhile! Round trip was 3 hrs and 30 mins with lots of stops for water and photos along the way!

I would rate this trail as moderate. Right amount of sun and shade. Pretty steep right before you get to the lake. There is a nice stream crossing. The trail is very wide in most places. The lake is very large and is worth the hike. The drive up to the trailhead was very scenic since you go past Turquoise Lake.

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