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Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail

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Roosevelt National Forest

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 bird watching and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 7.1 mi Elevation gain 1,942 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Forest

Lake

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Rocky

Description
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

Steady uphill from parking area at end of a bumpy gravel road. Forested for the first half, then the trail emerges in spots for views across the canyon towards Diamond Lake area and Diamond Creek falls. Trail steepens after the junction with the Diamond Lake trail, then flattens out when nearing timberline and the old Fourth of July mine area. Passing the Arapaho Glacier trail, this trail leaves timberline on the old wagon road to Caribou Pass. A steady grade but a more rocky surface to the junction with the Arapaho Pass trail with wide open views of the North Fork of Middle Boulder Creek canyon and Mt. Neva. Continue a short distance past the Arapaho Pass trail to turn left toward Lake Dorothy. There are two unmarked turns to the left that are obvious, the first is the old wagon road, which loops well to the left before rising towards the lake. The second is a more direct route to the lake.

When the road to trailhead closes due to weather, it is about a 4.5 mile hike to the trailhead (from lower parking lot). Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (570)
Photos (1113)
Recordings (342)
Completed (1096)
Matt Botruff
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RunningGreat!

Probably the most breath taking trail I have done in Colorado! Started at 530 and parking was limited. Well marked trail, lots of shade and fresh water if needed. Trail going up was empty , coming down packed. Most people had mask and there was one old man yelling about masks and natural selection. Otherwise breath taking! The valley was inspiration for land before time! I chose to go to Lake Caribou, over Arapahoe Pass. Lots of wild like pikas, marmots, birds, moose and bear signs all over. I ran this with 2 liters of water and took time for pictures. No wind today but bring layers and watch for flash floods in the valley during storms! Will have to come back and camp!

Andrew Johnson
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Hiking

Lots of wildflowers, beautiful hike

View Andrew's Recording
Morgan Wheeler
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Hiking

Gorgeous views throughout! Incredible hike

View Morgan's Recording
Chris Smith
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HikingRocky

One of the most beautiful hikes I have done. The views were awesome and the entire trail had a great mix of scenery. I even saw a pika! It is windy at the top but well worth it!

Claire B
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Hiking

This is my favorite hike in the area and I come back every year! Hiked on Sunday, 8/1, perfect morning, cool weather and not very windy. Parking was completely full but the trail was scarce. We hardly saw anyone the whole time. Trail is a good workout, not very difficult. We clocked 8miles and 4 hours, 45minutes. We walked around a bit at the lake and on the pass. If you’re like me and go for the wildflowers, go now!! Definitely peak of wildflowers this weekend. Dozens of varieties. Note: we got up to this trailhead on Saturday at 6:30am and the trailhead was full. We arrived this morning at 5;45am and got one of the last spots on the road. Get there early!! Glad to see people are enjoying the outdoors, but it’s definitely hard to watch your favorite places become so crowded. But it’s a great TH with lots of options. It’s obvious why it is so popular!

Jenni Hankel
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BackpackingBugsGreat!No shade

We backpacked in 7/17 and left 7/19. It was a very easy hike which allowed us to set base camp for longer hikes during the day. Tons of wild flowers and mosquitos. Plenty of parking on a Friday evening since most people use this trailhead for day hiking. It was a relaxing trip and one we would recommend for beginner backpackers!

Annie Tatro
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Hiking

Gorgeous the entire time. Wildflowers and waterfalls. Bring layers. Exposed and rocky trail the last couple miles, was windy and chilly, but epic views all around. Definitely moderate other than the high elevation. Would definitely do again.

Lindsay Marron
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Hiking

Super windy!!

View Lindsay's Recording
Katy Phillips
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HikingRocky

Got here around 6:50am on Wednesday and got one of the few remaining spots left in the lot. Keep in mind the dirt road to the trailhead has many potholes and rocks in it, and a car with more clearance would be best. I saw a few sedans, but it would be easier with 4WD. Trail was beautiful! Starts in a lovely wooded area where wildflowers are abundant. Incline is slow and steady. I would recommend hiking boots since there are some parts you have to walk on rocks to get across some water (not treacherous by any means, but no one likes wet socks!). Lots of shade in the beginning but then becomes exposed about halfway to the top. Once at the top it was super windy! Bring a jacket/windbreaker. Got to Lake Dorothy around 9:30am and had the lake completely to ourselves. Incredible views the whole way, just super windy!

Lewis Zimmerman
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HikingNo shadeRocky
View Lewis's Recording
Amy Spiro
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Arrived at the TH at 6:30 AM on a Wednesday with plenty of parking still available. Rough road so leave plenty of time. Trail was gorgeous. First section is forested with a steady uphill climb, beautiful flowers and a fairly large waterfall to cross at the one- mile mark. I'm a wimp when it comes to water crossings but I managed to cross uneventfully with the help of my teen daughter. Only about 5 or 6 steps over rocks. Water levels were pretty low. After the junction with the Diamond Lake Trail you keep going through forest for a bit until you arrive at a relatively flat and really beautiful section of the trail. The next part of the hike is quite steep and long through talus and some loose rocks; path here is a bit narrow and the wind was crazy. After a steady, steep climb, we arrived at Lake Dorothy and found our way to a few nice rocks to rest. No bugs, but heavy winds. Trail was moderately busy with about 70-80 percent mask usage when passing. Thank you! Easy to social distance on parts of the trail.

Brianna Coy
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Hiking

Great trail with great views! Get there early because the parking lot fills up fast.

View Brianna's Recording
Kaela S.
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HikingBugsMuddyRocky

Probably the most gorgeous hike I have done. The wildflowers were fun everywhere. The first half is forested and have nice tree cover. Then half way, the terrain switches to alpine and is beyond rocky. Plenty of cute little streams and even a medium sized waterfall to cross. Lake Dorothy is beyond charming. Another hiker said the views of the surrounding mountains was similar to views from a 14er. Loved this hike!

View Kaela's Recording
Deterri Rockwell
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Hiking

Friday morning. Full lot with a few road spaces that weren’t too far of a walk at 0740. Way more people than I had anticipated. Friday is the new Saturday unfortunately. Still an amazing hike. Foggy and beautiful at the top and flowers galore.

Mary williams
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Beautiful trail. Arrived at 7:30. Plenty of parking. The wildflowers are amazing. Steady uphill very doable. Highly recommend.

Campbell Duffy
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Hiking

This trail, this time of year, never seizes to amaze me. So wonderful. Wear a gator so you can cover your face! We started at 0730 and finished by 12, with plenty of photo breaks. Bring a few layers, it gets a little bit windy. So lovely :-)

View Campbell's Recording
Kati Turner
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Hiking

Super pleasant hike. Exactly as strenuous as we wanted it to be with views the whole way.

Russ Meller
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Hiking

Love this trail! The wildflowers were at peak! We followed the social trail up to Nevo part way and so 8.1 RT and just shy of 2,500 ft of elevation for us. About 60-70% mask wearers. Last spot in upper lot arriving at 6:02a on Sunday.

Erica Shieh
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Stunning views of mountains, wildflowers, and alpine lakes, a must do hike in Colorado! PS. If anyone finds a pair of black Teva sandals, please message me on Instagram @thatshiehcray as we lost them on the trail :(

Sabrina Holmquist
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Hiking

This is the most beautiful hike I have done in CO. You can get to the trailhead w a low clearance car but it’s not for the faint of heart. And get there EARLY if you want parking. The wildflowers are beautiful, you get to hike across waterfalls and at least 1/3 is above tree line. Stunning. Worth the 2 hour drive from Denver.

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Paige D.
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Hiking

Wow, such a beautiful hike! Filled up my camera roll with photos including a moose I saw on my way up! The incline is steady but not too steep, enough to have gotten me out of breath being combined with the elevation. Nothing too technical but the trail is wet in some spots and there is one waterfall and one stream that requires stepping on some rocks or you’ll be ankle deep in water. I will absolutely be doing this hike again! I got there at 6:30 am on a Friday and me and the few cars around me were filling up the last spots in the first section of one the road parking so I’d suggest getting there early.

View Paige's Recording
Sierra Ryan
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Hiking

The trail was beautiful. There were a few streams to cross, would recommend waterproof shoes. Much of the hike was steep. At the trail maker for Caribou Lake and Arapaho Pass you should head to the left (toward Caribou Lake). The lake immediately to the right is Caribou Lake. The trail down to Caribou Lake is very steep downward and nearly non-existent in a few spots. Overall, this hike was challenging but rewarding.

Janet Reynolds
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HikingGreat!

We hiked this trail on a Friday (7-17-20), arrived at the 4th of July Trailhead at 8:15am. Although it appeared that all the parking at the end of the road (before the actual trailhead) was taken, we drove up to the trailhead, and the parking fairies were with us! there were still 3 open parking spots right at the trailhead. Blue skies, no clouds. Abundant wildflowers. Most people did have masks on, if not they turned away when people passed. Actually pretty crowded. This was a 1.5 hour drive from Lafayette, CO. The last 4 miles into the trailhead, requires higher than average clearance, but not 4WD. But I did see many regular cars at the trailhead.

Puneet Pasrich
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Hiking

07.15.20. The flowers are magnificent! Go enjoy multitudes of Indian Paintbrushes and Columbines. Timing: 3h30 to ascend to Dorothy Lake, 0h30 to ascend and descend a minor 12,000' peak, and 2h20 from the Caribou trail crossroads to car.

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