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King Lake Trail is a 12.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 12.2 miles Elevation Gain: 2,539 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

running

forest

lake

views

From Nederland, head south on Colorado Highway 119 for 0.5 mile. Turn west onto County Road 130 (Eldora Ski Resort sign). Stay on the main road through the town of Eldora. Once the pavement ends, continue for another mile. Look for a sign and vehicles parked above a side road heading sharply down and to the left. This side road leads to Hessie TH and is a cobblestone creek bed that carries water year round. Vehicles without high clearance should park at this junction. From here, it is a -mile walk to the trailhead. This trailhead sees high use, especially on weekends, and parking is limited.

Lakes are accessible little snow at the top when turning from Kings lake trail to bob and Betty trail but easily manageable in shoes especially if you get up there before the sun gets on it too much. Will probably be completely snow free in the next couple weeks I’d guess.

hiking
snow
16 days ago

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
18 days ago

Trail kept getting more snowy and muddy the further I went... in retrospect I should have saved this hike for July/August. You can make it to the lake without snowshoes tho but only b/c the snow is so hard you can walk on top of it without sinking in. If you’re gonna try it I’d recommend downloading the trail map before hand because it’s easy to lose because of the snow. Also I arrived around 7:30 and there was no parking left so get there early

hiking
27 days ago

Survived past the crowds at Lost Lake and had a couple miles up Kings all to myself. Didn't go all the way up to the lake, as it was getting late, but it seemed like the trail is coming back into shape after issues with trees down, etc.

hiking
2 months ago

Snow shoes needed

hiking
snow
6 months ago

hiking
icy
snow
6 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

Gorgeous hike! The wildflowers are amazing. It’s a little muddy/buggy, but well worth the spectacular views. Next time, we’ll stay the night and take the loop back!

recorded Recording - Aug 03, 05:05 PM

hiking
11 months ago

much harder than people try to play it out to be. it's because on a scale of 1-10, 10 being top hiker; the majority on this trail are 9/10s. the majority are running this insanely rocky terrain.. they're crazy fit.. if you're an advanced to intermittent advanced hiker, this will will really be tough for you..

backpacking
11 months ago

Absolutely beautiful trail! Wildflowers are everywhere and roaring waterfalls and streams are awesome to watch! The trail has wet-muddy spots the last 1.5 miles to the lake but otherwise completely dry and clear. Highly recommend!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
Fri Jul 05 2019

Hiked from the first parking area after Eldora to the small lake 100 yds NE of King Lake on July 4th. First 5 miles were dry. The last mile up to the lake goes from snow patches to a 4 foot snowpack. The smaller lake was mostly frozen over still, and I wasnt able to make it to kings lake due to deep loose snow the last 100 yds. Great hike but your feet will get wet

hiking
snow
Mon Jun 24 2019

My husband and I hiked in for an overnight yesterday. We planned on seeing how far we could get around devils thumb. Ran into an older backpacker who said he spent two nights on the trail but the pass was too socked in with snow and ice to pass even with gear. We decided to go what we heard was to the less snowy side to kings lake. Trail is well worn and gaiters and waterproof boots recommended since a good deal of it in snow melt run off. As of today, when you start hitting snow patches you can follow that for a while and there’s a distinctive part where you never see the trail again. 2 groups meandered their way along the river trying to make it up to the lake. Lots of post holing, snow shoes recommended after this point, not hard enough for spikes. We approached the ridge to try to find the bridge over to the lake, but everyone turned back at that point. It was getting late, and weather was turning. If you have GPS and snow shoes you could probably easily make the push to the lake but it’s obvious no one has made it that far recently. We camped a few hundred feet down and hiked out this morning with no issues. Lots of wildflowers popping! Very few people in the peaks wilderness.

hiking
Tue Sep 18 2018

This was my favorite hike ALL summer. Not heavily trafficed, closer to Denver, and stunning views the whole way up! I highly recommend. Make sure you arrive early so that you don't have to hike up to the trailhead. I believe there is public transportation that brings you directly there as well - maybe look into that.

Tue Sep 04 2018

Nice hike. The beginning of the trail is like a road, rocky and wide but beyond that is a nice trail with a gradual ascent mostly through an evergreen forest. There are some streams and small waterfalls as well as meadows to look at but not many vistas until above the timberline. The lake is a great destination for lunch but for sure you should do (as I did) the extra 0.3 mile hike to the Continental Divide for better views. A storm was approaching as I was there and could not spend as much time as I wanted to. It hailed on me on the way out. Saw a large group of hikers on the way up but beyond only 3-4 more people on the trail. My total hike time from and to the parking lot was about 7 hours.

hiking
Mon Aug 20 2018

This is a fun trail and isn't too difficult. It ends with some switchbacks climbing up to the lake, make sure to push through it, it's worth it. The trail is fairly busy at the Hessie trailhead with many people going to Lost Lake. You may need to take the shuttle from Nederland if it's a busy day, the shuttle runs very often. Once you hit the split to Kings Lake it's less crowded with a few back packers, day hikers, and trail runners.

running
Mon Jul 30 2018

I will be honest...this is basically like Rocky Mountain National Park with less people. It was not heavily trafficked at all. I saw a few people at the beginning, but near kings lake I only saw 2 people backpacking. This trail is for sure over 12 miles and I thought it was 8. This is not an easy trail...but I also did it alone and started at 3:45pm and didn’t take many breaks. Do not recommend doing that unless you trail run or are a seasoned hiker  jogging the joggable parts had me back just before 8pm. I didn’t have the right shoes...the terrain is incredibly rocky (not big ones you can easily step on, medium round ones that suck to walk on) near the start so make sure you have hiking or trail running shoes with arch support and impact protection. I was able to job a good portion of it...having cross country spikes for 3 miles of the way back was a really good choice. Even for the way up, having shoes with treads was important. Beautiful trail, will be back with better shoes, poles, and will park near the bridge. Next time I might do 4th of July trail. If you go alone be sure to bring pepper spray and a knife...I saw large animal jump across the trail ahead of me and I’m not sure if it was a mountain lion or elk. My friend also saw a bobcat on a trail near boulder. Be sure to check behind and ahead of you to make sure you aren’t being stalked by a mountain lion. They are more active at dusk and evening...

hiking
Sun Jun 24 2018

June 23, 2018 Trip Report: Absolute beautiful weather for this hike. Trail to King Lake is easy to moderate in my opinion. Depends on your fitness level I guess. There was no snow left on the ground until right around 3 miles in from the King Lake trail split off (or 4 miles from trailhead), and then only small patches here and there. The snow was of no consequence once I did encounter it, so no trouble getting to King Lake. Once at the lake, there was a small amount of ice still on the lake. The trail up was wet and soggy in some places, as to be expected this time of year, so if you are worried about getting your hiking boots muddy, stay home! I went on from King Lake and did the loop over and down via the Continental Divide/High Lonesome Trail to Devil’s Thumb Lake. I’ll write about that over on the loop trail link. Get outside in nature and feed the soul!

hiking
Sun Jun 10 2018

Did this hike on June 9th 2018, very good long hike. Only complaint is that trails are still snowy at the top and navigation was a pain. The trail gets lost in the snow many places. Would do again later in the season. Final like destination was frozen over but just as spectacular. Total trip was around 15 miles after getting lost a few times.

Sat Mar 03 2018

awesome

hiking
Sun Nov 26 2017

Great hike for solitude - but because it’s not frequented trails are pretty powdery. I recommend micro spikes for the first half and then snow shoes the rest of the way.

hiking
Sat Nov 25 2017

Really fun hike; I loved the solitude and the single-file trails in and out of forest and meadows. I swear we heard moose! The tracks stopped 0.5 miles from the lake, which was really disappointing. Doing little research prior to the trek, we weren't sure which way to go for the final destination. Look up the trail description before heading out since we later read that it's really snowy even in June! Will be back this spring or summer to complete.

hiking
Tue Sep 19 2017

Amazing hike. Saw no one on way up and only 10 people on the way down. Great look at fall colors.

Fri Sep 08 2017

super rewarding hike

hiking
Sat Aug 12 2017

Just down from this hike today. Went to 12000' overlooking the lake. Quite a lot of hikers and runners. Gorgeous day!

Mon Jul 24 2017

Loved this hike! I was on a solo hike for most of the way, and I ran across maybe 10 people. The last bit up to the lake is the hardest part, but well worth the climb.

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