Devils Thumb Pass and King Lake Trail

MODERATE 40 reviews
#3 of 9 trails in

Devils Thumb Pass and King Lake Trail is a 15.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

15.3 miles
3392 feet

dogs on leash






nature trips


trail running





wild flowers




Directions from Eldora: Travel west to the Hessie Townsite on CR #130

2 months ago

Beautiful! Went counterclockwise, I’m out of shape...

4 months ago

Got to the trailhead around 7:30 on a Saturday and there were only a few spots left. Did the trail counterclockwise (Devil Thumb lake first) which led to a pretty challenging climb up the pass (carried 35lb packs). Pretty crowded up to that point, but then it dropped off. We camped right by King Lake which was beautiful but really exposed. Fortunately there was no lightening but we had to guy out every line on the tent due to high winds - kinda sketchy. Beautiful hike with plenty to explore off the trail too.

5 months ago

My first real Colorado hike. So beautiful and everything I hoped for and more. I recommend going clockwise (King's lake first), as it's a more gradual ascent compared to the other way.

trail running
5 months ago

Started kind of early in the morning, so took the 9AM shuttle from Nederland. Turned out to be a great idea as many people who parked on the side of the road were already hiking at least a mile if not more just to reach the shuttle bus drop off point.
Opted to run the loop in a counterclockwise direction. I think that is a much better way to go through this route. One reason is the morning sun provided great views along Devils Thumb Trail. Second: King Lake Trail drops below tree line pretty quickly so a potential afternoon thunderstorm would find you in the protection of a dense forest.
Otherwise not many people on the trails: every few minutes a group.
Fortunately I was able to complete the loop before the thunderstorm, that just moved in as the shuttle bus took be back to the RTD parking lot in Nederland.
Sunny day and an awesome experience. The views were spectacular!!! I can only recommend this loop.

5 months ago

One of the most beautiful hikes I've done! Get there early if you want a good parking spot. Passed by three beautiful lakes, waterfalls and met some fun people along the way! Highly recommend for an endurance hike!

5 months ago

probably the best hike in Boulder county

5 months ago

Amazing hike!! Awe-inspiring views and ever-changing scenery. I have done a lot of hiking in CO and this is possibly my favorite.. Most go CW; this lends itself to a milder incline. Trails are very well marked. Little bugs, virtually no snow. Arrive earlier than you think; it was already slim pickings at 6:45am this morning.

6 months ago

We camped this loop over weekend and took backpacks. Nice trip, beautiful scenery, lovely flowers and not too busy. First night in Devil's thumb lake, second at Kings lake. I might reverse that if I had to do it again, because Devil's Thumb pass was a bitch much with a full pack at altitude and divide, but still highly recommended!

6 months ago

Wonderful, beautiful hike. However, with the loop we hit a glacier with no way around it (July 2017). We had to slide down it, but I would not recommend as it was very unsafe. I am not sure how everyone else is doing this loop as I didn't see any tracks on this glacier. I would love to come back for fishing.

6 months ago

Stunningly beautiful hike!! Colorado hiking at its best. Get there early or take the shuttle from Nederland to the trailhead.

8 months ago

It was a nice hike and I camped out that evening. I did see there is no camping with out a permit June 1st through September 15 also no fires are allowed east of the continental decide. Just a heads up. Also the trail was very busy

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hands down the best hike I've been on this summer. I've done a majority of the hikes in the Nederland's area and this easily tops the list at number 1 in my opinion. It has the best components of every hike. It took me most of the day, about 10 hours in all, but that was with talking to other campers and hikers along the way, plus a few extra stops to rest. The views along the high lonesome Trail makes it all worth it, especially when overlooking Devils thumb lake and eventually kings lake. 10/10 would recommend this for well seasoned hikers.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hiked May 19. Still tons of snow. Still fairly compact in the shade, started getting slushy in the sunshine. Snowshoes would have been really helpful. Hike was beautiful regardless. Amazing vistas. Didn't see another person after the 1st mile or so. Would have definitely lost the trail in the snow several times over if it hadn't been for some day or so old tracks. Saw a few mountain lion tracks. Will definitely repeat in summer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This is an ambitious hike that has everything!!!! Water (in season), wildflowers, meadows, rugged mtn views, lakes, aspen, evergreen, you name it.

It was breathtaking in every way. wear waterproof shoes and get there early. We went during the week and saw 3 other people!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

First day of summer! Snowshoes were a good idea.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

I've hiked this trail several times,early autumn and early spring. I love this trail for it's rugged beauty. In early autumn the aspens were golden yellow and the water falls were incredible. In early spring I had my three sons and the snow was still fairly deep. We had to go off train & over the ridge to avoid deep snow. The waterfalls were absolutely amazing. The spring melt made for a spectacular show. Great for dogs, a little tough for young kids. It is my favorite place.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Devils Thumb trail is amazing to run and provides a great variety of conditions to keep it interesting. Technical conditions range from dirt single track to loose rock. There are some challenging hills, but these are usually followed by flat stretches to help recover before the next hill.
The trail to the lake is about 6 miles from TH. An additional mile can be tacked on by pushing up to the Continental Divide. That mile is tough with decent elevation gain. But it is worth it just on the view alone.
Do arrive at the TH (fork at July 4th Road and Hessie) early as roadside parking is limited and does fill up fast towards late morning. Additionally, there are very few people on the trail that early for the outbound leg.
Bring a camera.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You can make an excellent ~17 mile loop out of this trail if you continue up after Devil's Thumb Lake up to the continental divide, head south for about 2 miles then drop down to the King's Lake trail which will take you back to the Hessie trail head. Running I spent a little under 5 hours and it does add another +1,200 vertical feet to get up to the divide, but the view are worth it. I originally found this trail on the blog I linked to.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Beautiful hike once you get past the first mile or so. Not sure why it's rated difficult. I would give it a difficult if it was to the pass. Arrive at the trail head early if you like solitude.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Somewhat technical. Breathtaking scenerey (literally). Phenomenal trail. The only downside was the huge amount of people on the first mile or two of the trail.

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