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Arapahoe Pass and Lake Dorothy Trail

MODERATE 381 reviews
#4 of 138 trails in

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.

Distance: 7.1 miles Elevation Gain: 1,942 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

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.

backpacking
5 days ago

Completed Oct. 5: Amazing views and easy to follow. This trail is hard to beat. Saw a bunch of people running and hiking, and my group was backpacking. We found a spot just below the tree line that was out of the wind (which was rare) about 2 miles in, set up camp and did the rest of the hike up to the pass and the lake without our packs. Above the tree line there is hardly anywhere I would recommend for camping; the other option would be to go down the other side of the pass to Lake Caribou (not lake Dorothy). Definitely recommend this trail for anyone that wants to get a feeling for the Indian peaks!

AMAZING hike. Completed 10.9.19. The weather was perfect - a slight breeze throughout the whole hike and not windy at the top. I started at 8:30AM and finished a little before 12:15PM with a few stops for photos. The last mile is definitely rocky but WOW the views are incredible. Ended the hike at Lake Dorothy — did not have time to further explore Arapahoe Pass. Huge shoutout to the hikers who made me feel less nervous about my first solo hike and who offered great advice and help if I needed it. Definitely will do again.

hiking
19 days ago

9.28.2019 Hit the trail @720 am - was nice and brisk and there was some fresh water on everything as there had been some drizzle the night before. Some cool water features running over the trail and tree shade for about the first 2 miles in. After that you start pushing the edge of the treeline and the full view of the surrounding peaks come in to view. You'll be walking along a relatively exposed portion from there until you hit the junction for caribou pass and arapahoe pass. Take the 'caribou' pass route and you'll head up to lake Dorothy otherwise you'll head on the ENE route to go down Arapahoe. If you continue up the ridge to the ENE off the path you will come across some old in-ground mining structure and be able to make the way to the saddle if you desire to do a traverse. If you have a pup, be sure they wear shoes because it WILL tear their pads to shreds. The leaves had just begun to change and there was a light dusting of snow up top. Traffic volume is high after 1030am so expect to see others on the trail. They are all friendly though as this is not your typical '14er' crowd of city-slickers. Highly recommend as a trail running route.

hiking
25 days ago

Loved this trail & also hit Caribou lake. Get to the TH by 7:15 on a wkd. It’s for sure windy, rocky towards the last mile (careful of the pups paws!), but the leaves are changing and the views are gorgeous!

hiking
rocky
25 days ago

I would recommend this trail to anyone looking for a decent challenge. Its very dog friendly and the trail is in good condition. It starts at the 4th of july trailhead. We arrived at about 8:20am on a saturday and got a good parking spot ~0.3 miles away from the trailhead. This trail takes you through the woods, as you occasionally cross some streams, and up through rocky terrain where the sun is free and the winds are a killer. The lake is on the same level as the trail and is a beautiful sight. Totally worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike! Left trailhead about 7am and didn’t run into a lot of people until the way back down. Great option for taking your pup!

Beautiful sunny day. Started at 8 and parking was almost gone. Saw a moose by the road before the trail even started. Hiked to Arapaho Pass then Lake Dorothy. Glad to have poles on the way down since there’s quite a bit of rock.

Great hike! Started around 6:30, and had no problem with parking. Does get crowded, so I would recommend early start if you are trying to stay away from that. Trail is in good shape, rocky at the end but nothing to bad to deal with. A nice doable incline the whole time but enough breaks throughout. Amazing views the whole time, definitely would recommend and I will come back for more hikes in the area.

recorded Arapaho Pass Trail

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

1 month ago

Solid afternoon hike that’s steep enough to be a workout but not an ass buster. Lovely views from up top and lots of pika and marmot in the boulders.

Beautiful trail! It took us just under two hours to get to Lake Dorothy and about an hour an 20 minutes to get down but we were hiking pretty fast because we knew storms were rolling in. This was a great hike with gorgeous views and features. It wasn’t terribly hard but was pretty rocky the second half. First part is in trees and then it’s pretty open.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike the whole way. We had perfect weather. made it to the top to look out at Lake Caribou before coming down. Trail is well maintained, several people, but not crowded. Took us about 3 hours up, but we had 3.5 year old walking for part of it before carrying in pack the rest of the way.

hiking
1 month ago

September 2, and still perfect weather. We added on Caribou Lake, an extra 2+ miles and 800’ vertical, and it was beautiful. Arrive very early to get a parking spot )before 7:30). Very rough 5 mi dirt/rocky road. High clearance 4wd needed. Great hike!

hiking
1 month ago

North Arapaho Peak Summit. Traverse from South Arapaho Peak. Each way, the ridge took about one hour. Nothing exceeded class 3. Excellent weather, super fun.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

Trail wasn’t really muddy but there were lots of stream crossings during the first half of the hike which I wasn’t expecting. Once you’re out of the trees it gets windy (and in my experience was freeeezing) so prepare for that. I think it took me about 4 hours round trip

hiking
1 month ago

Wonderful hike! Perfect weather, not-too-strenuous climb to Lake Dorothy. Started at 7:50, arrived 2 1/2 hours later. Starts through cool, lovely forest with streams and waterfalls along the way, then out into the open with vistas down the valley, surrounded by majestic peaks. Lots of picas basking in the sun. Wildflowers abound. Strong wind and cool increased as we approached Lake Dorothy--wear layers, bring gloves and hold on to your hat! The views from the top of the pass are stupendous. One of my favorite hikes, with the exception of the brutal 5-mile unpaved, ROCKY road to trailhead. The longest 5 miles of my life, then must repeat on the way out. Not fun. Hike is worth every step.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike. Steady elevation gain to the top, which was very doable. Took us about 4 hours from start to finish (and we were packing a 4–year-old). The wind almost took my face off, especially on the pass, but the views made it worthwhile. Until the wind took my hat, so I had to dock a star. Reached the trailhead at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday and got one of the last spots, but the trail never seemed crowded. Lots of water, bountiful wildflowers. Great hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Good trail, great views of lakes, wildflowers, lots of wind at the top. A hiker in front of me said they saw a moose grazing near the meadow. Took me 4.5 hrs roundtrip. started at 1:30 and finished at 6. I'm kinda slow and took alot of pictures.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Really great hike and stunningly beautiful. Must arrive very early in the morning to get a parking spot (before 6:30) and high profile vehicle. It was cold and very windy at times

hiking
1 month ago

Please for the love of god people!!!! Do not walk on the tundra here! Only step on rocks near the lake and stay on the real trail at all times! So many idiots walking off trail on the fragile tundra, destroying this place for future visitors!!!!

hiking
1 month ago

What a great day out! Popular trail, great views in and out, flowers forever. Love this trailhead!

hiking
1 month ago

Did this hike today (Aug 18, 2019). Got on the trail at 6:45 am and was back at 12:15 pm, with a 40 min break at the lake. It was very, very windy on the exposed sections of the hike, as well as the lake. We had to keep all the warm layers we had on, and our hands were freezing. The last half mile of the hike to the lake kicked my butt, as I was having a hard time breathing (~12000 ft). The trail itself is not hard, but the altitude can make it so. Lovely flowers on the way, and beautiful scenery. Another noteworthy thing: There’s a good chunk of hiking on trail sections covered in pebbles and small rocks, so it can painful on the feet, and makes it easy to slip.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Great half day hike. Views along the entire hike were lovely, beautiful wild flowers too! Only took about an hour and a half to get to the top. There are really high winds along the ridge. Went on a Sunday and got there around 6:30, not too crowded when I got there but by the time I was leaving there were no parking spots in the lot or along the road so get there early.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked it Sunday, 8/12. My new favorite “close to Denver” hike. I got to the trailhead at 6:45am. There was still plenty of parking and I had the trail pretty much to myself on the way up. On the way down I passed several people hiking up, but it wasn’t too crowded.

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