Medano Lake Trail

MODERATE 4 reviews

Medano Lake Trail is a 7.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Center, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
7.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2352 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

14 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

Because I didn't find much online about this trail, I wanted to write a thorough review. We completed this hike on August 6, which took us about 5 hours to do the whole hike (including two 20-min breaks). The trailhead is a half mile off of the Medano Pass 4-wheel drive road, and about a 2-hour drive from the Sand Dunes. When researching this hike, I found conflicting mileage and elevation gain stats. The sign at the trailhead says this hike is 4 miles one way, and my Fitbit said it was 1,963 elevation gain, which jived with the trailhead sign. The Rio Grande National Forest site lists this trail as medium usage, but it is very lightly used. The small parking lot only fits about 3-5 cars, and we only saw 7 people on the whole hike.
The first third of the hike is easy, and the last 1-1 1/2 miles are steep. The trail goes through a dense pine and aspen forest with a few clearings along the way. Many fallen trees are littered on the trail towards the beginning, so they make for lots of obstacles to step over. There are 5 official stream crossings that aren't bad with log bridges or fallen trees or rocks to cross over.
We got caught in two short hail storms on the way up, only lasting for a few minutes at a time. Lots of wildflowers, including a few beautiful fields of them. Very green, muddy, and wet, which was indicative of the recent very wet weather.
A good campsite in the trees is about a half mile or less before the lake with a good creek nearby for water filtering. A few backpackers that we saw had stayed at the campsite and said it was nice.
The lake was beautiful although the clouds and weather were pretty socked in, so we didn't get to see all the scenery. There aren't very many trees at the lake, and the ones that are there are very short and wind-blown. It started spitting rain on us at the lake, and we were caught in a big rain and thunder storm for about two thirds of our hike down. That was a bit scary, so we ran a good portion of the trail down and were completely soaked in our raincoats and ponchos. We can't imagine what happened to the couple we saw heading up to the lake after us; they had no gear or water! Our 6-year old did awesome, and this was the hardest hike he's done now.

hiking
2 months ago

Sunday, May 19, 2013