Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail is a 7.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
7.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,942 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO

hiking
10 hours ago

This is still one of my favorite hikes. Great views, waterfalls, forest, lake meadows and sweeping views at the pass. At this time there is lots of snow and ice and it is likely the trail will not be passable in the next couple of weeks with any additional snow. Forth of July road was rough but still passable with 4WD drive and decent clearance. No snow on the road at this time. It was very challenging to get to Lake Dorothy. Most people had stopped at the pass and in addition to being sandblasted with snow and ice from hurricane force winds, there was no path to the lake. We tried and got caught in thigh high snow from the drifts. Views at the top were spectacular if you could handle the wind. Great hike. Definitely one to add to the list.

hiking
2 days ago

Hiked this trail on Wednesday. It was very icy with lots of snow. Road getting to the trailhead was rough too! Better have a high clearance vehicle for this one. Came across a moose and her calf 1/4 mile from the trailhead. They were very close so got some good pics of them. Didn’t seem to mind us at all but they were blocking the trail and I know moose can be aggressive so we made a wide left around them just in case! Very scenic hike but I wouldn’t recommend it this time of year. Snow packed and icy.

hiking
15 days ago

This hike was incredible! Did it on 10/6. Road going up is a little wild, but not too terrible. Lots of snow at the top, still enough that you can walk on top. But I didn’t have hiking boots and my feet got pretty wet. Stunning stunning views!! You park at the Fourth of July trailhead.

hiking
28 days ago

Completed this hike on Saturday 9/22. This may be one of the most beautiful hikes I have done. Not too bad of an elevation gain but certainly not easy at some points. Luckily, it was the perfect blue sky day with a little wind at the top to cool us off when we reached to top. The views at the lake are incredible and we could have spent all day there if we did not have somewhere else to be. Take a walk around the entire lake to gain a different perspective of just how amazing it is.
The parking lot was oddly packed, as in full at this trail head and almost all the road parking taken for lost lake around 630am. A lot of people were backpacking on this trail and also splitting off to diamond lake. I think as long as the weather stays good and the road open, plan on either starting early or do something later in the day.

hiking
1 month ago

Easily one of my top hikes, if not the #1 hike in Colorado. Set off to just do 4 miles to the Fourth of July Mine and just couldn't stop. It's incredible how many photos I took because every time you turned a corner it got more and more beautiful - especially with those aspens showing off right now! Once I got to Lake Dorothy it was nearly 5pm and I wished that I had more time to explore. I will 100% be back. WOW!

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing hike with 360 views almost the whole way . Beautiful scenery and definitely a diamond in the rough . We didn’t see many people out on the trail and the parking lot is small. The road to the trail is definitely bumpy.. slow going for sure. But don’t let it keep you from going . I wasn’t expecting such an amazing hike . We didn’t get to spend as much time as we wanted at the top because it starting storming and lightening. But the view at the top - AMAZING... half the trail is dirt and some is nothing but rocks. The hike isn’t too strenuous and we only got to check out Lake Dorothy but I would definitely love to go back and explore the rest of the trail .

hiking
1 month ago

Fantastic hike with great views. Decently strenuous with nearly the entire trail at an incline. Some rockier parts, definitely bring proper hiking boots. Fantastic views, especially after the treeline. Camping is possible. To get to the lake, take the Caribou Pass trail and it will be on your left. Get to the parking area early!!! It will be full by 8AM or so.

hiking
1 month ago

This was my first time on this trail, and I loved it. I got there a little later than I’d intended, but at 9am the parking and trail usage was still pretty light. It is a beautiful trail - the wildflowers are popping, and the leaves on the aspens are just starting to change. As others have advised, bring a wind breaker/rain jacket and gloves for the exposed pass. I’ll be doing this one again.

hiking
1 month ago

Still one of my favorite hikes close to Denver. Gorgeous views throughout and two pristine lakes. Steady climb with a few steep spots and lots of rocky parks. Much of the trail is above tree line so be prepared to be exposed to the weather. It was windy and quite cold today. Yes, the parking lot (and road) are crazy but I got lucky with a spot in the top lot (at 9:30am) and surprisingly had Lake Dorothy all to myself. If you want to capture the beauty of the Rocky Mountains in one hike, this is a good one, Forest, wildflowers, lakes, waterfalls and views like you are on top of a 14er.

hiking
1 month ago

Just look at the pictures. Gorgeous hike. Very rocky. Wear good hiking shoes. I started at 7 a.m. on 8/26/18 and the lot was full. However, I didn't see a ton of people on the trail. Coming down was a different story. I recommend you bring gloves. I wish I had mine. It was really windy and cold at the top - I'm guessing upper 30s with wind chill. And, yes, this isn't a trail for solitude. A lot of people enjoy it - but if you get there early enough - it's not terrible going up.

hiking
1 month ago

Lost my phone on this trail this morning - if anyone comes across it, please email me at kristin.herrmann@gmail.com. Amazing trail though :) Thank you!

1 month ago

Leave early to avoid afternoon storms above treeline. Gorgeous hike.

2 months ago

We hiked this trail this past holiday weekend and it sure was busy. The four mile drive in on the gravel road can get quite bumpy and a little cramped when passing other vehicles in narrow spots. The hike itself was probably on our list of top hikes within an hour or so of Denver. The wild flowers along the trail were beautiful and the multiple water crossings were great. If you don't mind the heavy weekend traffic on the trail early on in the day the trek to the ridge is totally worth it. We got caught in your typical afternoon storms so if you are above tree line there is not much for cover and you are pretty exposed along the last mile of the hike going out. The views in all directions one you do get out to the lake are breathtaking. Certainly a hike a we would enjoy again and again as well as an overnight backpack in type trip.

hiking
2 months ago

Stunning for the entire length. The elevation gain is gradual, so even though over half of the trail is above treeline, it is not difficult. Definitely be prepared for the wind and wear good hiking shoes, and you'll have a great time! We arrived around 8:00am on a Saturday and we found roadside parking about 0.3 miles from the trailhead. The road was not as bad as I thought (in a small SUV).

hiking
2 months ago

Our favorite hike so far. Views the entire time. Super windy when you get to the pass. We were not used to altitude and we did fine. Get there early—by 8 you’ll be hiking with groups in front and behind you.

hiking
2 months ago

Spectacular hike! Definitely do not forget your windbreaker, the wind at the top is intense.

3 months ago

I liked the 4 mile off-road ride up to the trail head in my Wrangler!
I was disappointed that the “Buchanan Campsite” was only for the handicapped. Like seriously, no handicapped people are hiking this 10 miles of mountain but can’t use a regular campsite, but anyways.
Besides that, I enjoyed the heavily wooded trail to Dorothy Lake. It starts off steep and the valley comes into view about a half hour into it. My doggo enjoyed all the waterfall stops.
It was pretty crowded on a Sunday considering how remote it was.
Saw a marmot and a moose! I’d like to go again soon. And Nederland is nearby for some beers when you’re done.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful the whole way with wild flowers and mountain views. Got there at 6:45am on a Sunday and parking wasn't that bad. Took us 2hrs to get up to Dorothy lake. Very rocky trail wear good shoes and bring jacket/shell it can get windy at the top.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful! A profusion of wildflowers! If you can, hike during the week; you’ll have stretches of the trail to yourself (and a parking spot).

3 months ago

Believe the hype - on the gorgeous hike, the dirt road to get there, and the amount of people. It’s all true!

Be sure to bring a high clearance vehicle, hiking boots, and layers. The road up is slow and bumpy and gets super sketch when vehicles are parked along side it and you’re forced to drive on the little space that remains regardless of its condition.

The hiking trail has lots of water features and rock fields so you’ll need proper footwear. It also gets windy and cooler at the top so bring layers.

Be prepared for an incredible variety of views, wildflowers, and bears, oh my! We felt like we saw it all. The trail was friendly with lots of dogs and even more hikers. It took us about 2 hours up (including a slight diversion where the trail splits at the pass - going right will lead you down to Caribou lake but it is called Arapahoe Pass trail so we took that. We should have followed the sign for Caribou Pass and gone left, up to Dorothy Lake which we eventually figured out). We saw a family of ptarmigan at the pass. The views of the mountains will take your breath away! It was 1 hour, 40 minutes to get back down. Only about 10 minutes from the trailhead we spotted a black bear cub grazing up the mountain. One of my favorite hikes yet.

hiking
3 months ago

7/14. if you wanna do this, start early. I reached by 7.30 in the morning and the parking space was full and cars were already lined up along the road for atleast half a mile. so better reach early.

And the hike, OMG it's just amazing. lots and lots of wild flowers along the entire hike. so if you are interested in photography flowers, it's for you. The trail is well marked. The view does not disappoint you. The spot where tree line ends is just spectacular.

overall it took 3.5 hours uphill and just 2.5 hours downhill. be prepared to spend a good 7 hours on the trails and lake overall.

Above the tree line it is there are some loose rocks, so be careful. The lake is greenish blue adds to the amusement. Just walk past the lake for an amazing Mountain panoramic view.

hiking
3 months ago

SO CROWDED/HEAVILY TRAFFICKED. Arrived at 8:30am on Friday 7.13. Upper lot was full and there were about 15 cars lined up along the road, so ~30 cars total. Once on the trail though, I was able to pass a few groups then was mostly alone. Definitely want to do this one in the AM because like others have said, coming down the volume of people had almost doubled.

Of course we're all there because the hike is amazing with lots of running brooks cutting across the trail, wildflowers, nice shade for the first half, and amazing views at the top. Was tough to trail run with so much loose granite towards the top, but I made due.

3 months ago

You know this hike is going to be great when people endure the final few miles of the drive in attempting to ruin the underbelly of your car. But the second mile of the hike up has amazing wildflowers and the top of the pass is a sight to behold. One of the best hikes I’ve done in Colorado!

3 months ago

beautiful and not too strenuous. easy 3.5 hours

hiking
3 months ago

This hike was beautiful and if you make it to the top you get to see such a variety of views!! The wildflowers are blooming and look out for a waterfall across the way at the beginning.

You do have to take a really sketchy road to get there, as all the reviews suggest. It is scary but do-able in a sedan. It would be better to have a big car. We arrived at 9am and the parking was more than full which means walking even further from your car to the trail. Arrive early to avoid people.

We loved having so many dogs on the trail!! It was so fun, but do be aware that people don't always keep their dogs on leashes while hiking. We got to run around with three labs at Dorothy Lake and it was a dream come true!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Also: being from Texas the altitude really took me by surprise. This made an already strenuous 2,000 feet climb a lot harder. If you don't acclimate to altitude well be aware.

rock climbing
3 months ago

My wife and I completed the hike over Arapahoe pass and down to lake Dorothy this morning.
Let me start with the good:
- this place was touched by the hand of God, it's so beautiful, so fast and so varied. Wildflower gardens of violets, Columbines, paintbrush, daisys. Ptarmigans, Pika, Marmots.
Lake Dorothy is flush with trout and clear as glass and has a serious Sound of Music vibe to it.
Now the not so good:
The endless crappy dirt road to the trailhead resembles a Bagdad side street. If you dropped mortors on it, it might actually improve it.
"Lightly traveled" trail is fake news, it's the worst kept secret in Colorado. We got there at 6:00 am, the lot was full then. We had the mountain pretty much to ourselves until we started coming back at 10:00. Then it's a trail version of I-25 with every dog known to man.
Back at the crappy dirt road, ten thousand illegally parked cars and one ranger to write all the tickets. Poor dude...
I'll be back tomorrow!

hiking
3 months ago

Great climb And awesome views. I would definitely recommend this hike! Be prepared to drive on a rocky dirt road to get there.

3 months ago

This hike was amazing! This is the best time to go... wildflowers EVERYWHERE and the lake is beautiful and the mountain views are incomparable.

Despite all this, I would NOT recommend hiking here on a weekend. We grabbed the last spot even though we arrived at 8am. I would have preferred to change my work schedule to come on a Monday instead so we didn’t have to stress about parking and crowds.

3 months ago

I do not recommend doing this hike on a weekend unless you start early. It’s a very popular hike, and the parking lot is very small. However, the trail is beautiful. There are tons of wildflowers right now and several waterfalls as well. If you actually go to Dorothy Lake it ends up being longer than 7.1 miles. It’s worth it to make the trek down and add a couple extra miles to your trip though.

hiking
3 months ago

Gorgeous hike complete with bubbling streams, wildflowers, breathtaking views and a waterfall. There is a lot of shade throughout the hike so we weren’t uncomfortable at all. Parking was nightmare. We had to park half a mile away from the trailhead, and it was completely overrun with people when we arrived at 1pm...but it is called the Fourth of July Trailhead and it was the Fourth of July so, I guess that is to be expected. By the time we were walking back down at 5 we had the trail to ourselves. That’s why I docked one star-it says it is a lightly trafficked hike but it is extremely heavily trafficked!

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