Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail

MODERATE 136 reviews
#4 of 107 trails in

Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail is a 7.1 mile lightly 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
1942 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
1 month ago

worth the hike! the last mile is tough but the views are spectacular. This is my favorite hike in Colorado.

6 months ago

Wouldn’t suggest doing this late in the year without proper gear. Was really icy and a lot of snow. Had to turn back before reaching lake Dorothy. The super long dirt road to the trail head is also not the greatest. Still a pretty hike.

6 months ago

Great hike. Did it on 10/22. Recommend spikes. Icy in spots. Quite windy and cold at the top. We’ll come back in the summertime and do it again.

hiking
7 months ago

Awesome hike. I recommend bringing your micro spikes for the end part, if you have them. If not then hiking poles.

hiking
7 months ago

Such a beautiful hike.. probably my new favorite in the area! i think another reviewer mentioned this but definitely recommend AWD and/or high clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead. Also, definitely passable in October if the weather is nice... I was too lazy to pull out my crampons on the way up today but on the way down they were super useful. Only sunk to my knee in snow with one misstep by the lake! Of note: once you reach the pass and can see the other side of the range, there is a sign directing you to arapaho pass to the right and another pass to the left. To get to the lake, go left not right! I added an extra mile before I realized my mistake by not looking at the gps.

hiking
7 months ago

So beautiful. Hike this. Crampons would have been helpful towards the top but definitely do-able without them.

7 months ago

This was one of the most epic hikes I've taken in Colorado yet. The unexpected winter wonderland we found at the top added to the amazing scenery. A gradual incline that isn't too difficult except in a few places. The wind picked up at the top so just wear warm layers and sturdy shoes! Completed in 4.5 hours.

8 months ago

Great hike. Very well maintained trails. Great combination of forest hiking and walking along a scree slope (but packed). Challenging with a gradual incline. Great hike for all skill levels with amazing scenery!! Recommended!

hiking
8 months ago

A perfect blend of physical challenge, striking scenery, and varied terrain. Wife and I completed this hike in about 4.5-5 hrs with several breaks, but never found it too tough. Coming from the East Coast and hiking at this high elevation made this hike a bit more challenging than a similar hike in our region, but as long as you take quick breaks every little bit to catch your breath, you shouldn't have any issue reaching the top.
There are a few very rocky sections, especially as you rise above the treeline, but a solid pair of shoes should allow you minimum frustration. Trail was well marked and well trodden the whole way, and offered plenty of amazing views and photo-ops. If you're near Boulder/Denver, this hike is well worth the hour trip West!!!

A word of caution--- the dirt/gravel road to the trail head is dicey at times.. a truck or SUV is recommended. Our tiny Hyundai rental just barely managed to get up to the parking area.

hiking
8 months ago

Very scenic and lots of different terrain. We hiked thru heavily wooded areas on dirt trails and wood planks, through a few small waterfalls and creeks, on rocky cliff sides and finally made it to the tundra with a view of the Continental Divide and Lake Dorothy. We followed the signs for Caribou and Arapaho Pass. Good shoes are a must! The 3 mile dirt road on the way out is better suited for 4wd but our Honda Fir made it... we drove very very carefully!! The entire hike (there and back) is about 7 miles and took us 5.5 hours. We walked pretty leisurely and took rest breaks on the way up.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing hike. Went 2 weeks ago. Flowers were still amazing. Just stunning scenery the entire way! I live at sea level so the ascent was slow going but not hard in the slightest. Lake Dorothy was worth a visit (stay to your left where the sign is and the paths fork - it says to go to Caribou pass but first takes you to the lake). Be careful where you step. Saw many walking off the trail by lake Dorothy. Fragile tundra should not be stepped on. Please take care to only step on rocks! One of the best hikes I have done in my lifetime!

hiking
8 months ago

One of the most scenic trails I've completed in my life. Continuous mountain views, and a good steady (but never very steep) incline for our group of three from Missouri. Glad we arrived around 7 am to snag a spot in the upper parking lot at Fourth of July TH. The trail up to the pass wasn't too crowded even on Labor Day, but on our way down the first portion of the trail (to Diamond Lake) was very popular. Stunning views from the pass- especially on the stretch from Arapaho Pass to Dorothy Lake.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing hike but always PACKED!!! Btw, if your car is not equipped for the dirt road or you enjoy driving at 4mph, be courteous enough to pull over for those who came equipped or for those who don't have an extra 35 minutes in their busy schedule. Thanks!

8 months ago

Great hike! Awesome views, plenty of water crossings, the dog loves it too

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful hike. Took a beginner and he struggled with the incline. So would definitely rate it moderate. Lots of wildflowers, some waterfalls, and awesome views.

8 months ago

Great mellow to moderate Indian Peaks hike. Stunning views from the top of the pass!

8 months ago

This trail is absolutely gorgeous!! Views are incredible!! Several things to keep in mind, however; parking & driving on the single dirt road is very difficult on the weekends, & the road itself requires a bigger vehicle. We took my jeep which was perfect but the poor Ford Focus behind us eventually had to turn back. Crowds are big on the weekend & the trail itself can be narrow at times, making it difficult to pass others especially if you bring your dog. Bring a jacket for when you reach the top & don't quit halfway, the best part is reaching the top!

hiking
8 months ago

One of the prettiest trails I've done! The views the entire time are breathtaking, lake Dorothy is beautiful and the trail is very well marked/maintained. Highly recommend! Get there early for parking since lot is very small.

8 months ago

Stunning as always. Bring bug spray!! Not a good trail for beginners, it's a little on the high moderate-strenuous side in several spots. Also bring a hoodie for the lake, it can get pretty cold and windy but it's SO WORTH IT!!

9 months ago

So beautiful, tons of incline, flowers and critters. Bring sun screen and a jacket.

hiking
9 months ago

Absolutely beautiful hike and the wildflowers were stunning. Lots of pikas too!

hiking
9 months ago

Great hike! We drove our car to the trailhead, but immediately wished we would have taken our truck. Very bumpy dirt road with lots of rocks and pot holes. Doable in a car, but if you have another option, I would recommend that.

hiking
9 months ago

Arrived around 4pm yesterday and we were done around 8pm. Hiked at a good pace but stopped often to take loads of pictures. We could not get over the stunning views. Also, the wildflowers are totally amazing right now.

10 months ago

unreal wildflowers right now

10 months ago

Awesome hike!! A little tough but the views are amazing and the lake is so clear and beautiful.

10 months ago

Beautiful trail, I would say it's moderate, not hard. If you go all the way over the pass and down Caribou pass on the West side of the divide, that part is really steep. But the climb up from 4th of July trailhead is very doable and not too steep. Views at the top of Indian Peaks is worth it and you get good views of RMNP at the top.

hiking
10 months ago

We didn't realize the trailhead was Fourth of July until we arrived on the 4th of July! While it did get busy at times, it was never so busy it was frustrating. The payoff is absolutely beautiful, and even the steep sections had a pleasant view to focus on.

4th of July road is a bumpy dirt road, so please be prepared for that! There are also rocky stream crossings, including a waterfall. Bring waterproof shoes. Very mild in terms of bugs, and most dogs were properly trained or leashed.

hiking
10 months ago

Wonderful views and tons of flowers. There's no snow left on or near the trail so no need for micro spikes.

hiking
10 months ago

This trail was awesome! Definitely worth it to go all the way up to Lake Dorothy. Absolutely beautiful views. One of my favorite hikes so far.

hiking
10 months ago

Tried to get to Lake Dorothy but accidentally went down the other side of the pass to Caribou Lake. It was a VERY strenuous hike back up to the pass from Caribou Lake. Once you get to the pass, stay towards the left to find Lake Dorothy (as the one you can look down onto is Caribou). My GPS of the total trip: 10 miles, 6 hours, nearly 3000 ft of total elevation gain (1000ish came from hiking out from Caribou). Gorgeous trail. Need to go back and find Dorothy or do the glacier trail.

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