Pitkin Lake Trail is a 9.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Vail, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
9.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,975 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

19 days ago

Beautiful

27 days ago

Great hike!

hiking
1 month ago

This trail has it all, in my opinion. Very challenging at the beginning, levels off for awhile then hard again (for someone not acclimated to altitude or used to hill climbing - came from Indiana). Open meadow, forest, rushing stream and waterfall off in the distance. Didn’t have enough time to get to the lake but the Fall colors were incredibly beautiful! Loved this hike! Only did about 6 miles round trip but had done 3 earlier in the day so my knees were ready to be done hiking (poles came in very handy).

hiking
1 month ago

What an amazing hike! Pitkin lake is so beautiful during the fall. It is not as hard as you think. First mile is pretty tough but after that you can see very beautiful valley. Steady incline when you approach lake. Just bring enough water and a good snack. Must do if you in Vail area!

1 month ago

Hard is hard, beautiful is beautiful. The lake is rewarding.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing trail. Super beautiful. Took us a little under 5 hours.

1 month ago

Awesome. But 12.6 miles! Tough first mile, then steady incline. 3000 ft elevation gain. Gorgeous!!!!!!!

1 month ago

We did this hike late May 2016. It was tough because the first part of the trail was summer trail and the 2nd half was the winter trail. We postholed for about 5 miles and got fairly off the path and ended up making this 16miles instead. But we went all the way to the frozen lake when most folks did not (I don’t think any did besides us due to snow. Everyone was asking if we went to the top and were shocked that we did.) I would love to do this again when all the snow melts!!

1 month ago

Good hike, beautiful views, has something for everyone- forest, meadow, mountains and a stream. Get there early to park, log “stairs” at end of hike are tough on the knees. Several forks but wrong way was blocked by logs. There’s a Valley/meadow about 1.5 miles (?) below the lake with stunning views all around and the stream running through it. Only met 11 hikers until the last few miles, people going up with thunder rolling in the distance. It definitely wasn’t easy but then it’s not rated easy. Logged in at 10.2 miles on health app.

hiking
2 months ago

Hands down one of the best, most gorgeous hikes I’ve ever done. You’ll start within sight of I-70, and follow a well-marked, lightly trafficked valley trail to a pristine lake. Much of the trail is tree-covered, and while there is a fair bit of elevation gain, it’s nicely distributed throughout the hike. Nothing was sketchy, but I was grateful for poles on the descent. Approximately 6 hours out and back.

Be aware that the trail does fork in multiple places, and it’s not always clear which way to go. We followed a clear and lovely trail the wrong way for 1/4 mile at one point, so check the map via the AllTrails app if in doubt.

This hike is a standout because everything is just so gorgeous. The wooded areas have some serious fairy forest vibes, and there are several expansive meadows lined with ancient aspen groves. We saw a moose! The mountain views are also stunning, even for Colorado. Part of the trail follows a stream, and there are a couple of good waterfall views. The lake itself is gorgeous, clear, and looks totally pristine. We spent an hour with the lake all to ourselves. There is some dispersed camping near the lake (but out of view of the lake itself). We already have plans to come back for an overnight trip.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing trail ! Well worth the climb !

2 months ago

As someone from Michigan, this hike was a little difficult for me. There were some flatter areas but overall it was an incline. Took me about 3 hours to get up to the lake and 2.5 to get back down. However, it is pretty rough on the knees going down. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks/lunch for the lake.

hiking
2 months ago

Excellent hike! It took us 2:.5 hours to reach the lake at a good pace....and then a nice dip in the lake!!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful! Not many people for a Saturday in Vail. Caught the end of wildflower season.

hiking
2 months ago

The trail is definitely steep but nothing too challenging. We completed the trail with our four year old doing it on his own. Got to the lake in five hours, all trails clocked it as 5.6 miles one way. Beautiful views, tons of wild flowers!

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike! Pretty challenging, honestly, especially the beginning and end pitches. It mellows out quite a bit in the middle with a couple of quick pitches in between. I used the Map My Run app and logged 5.42 miles one way and it took me just under 5 hours round trip. Gorgeous scenery, lots of wildflowers, and tons of water crossings (easy). There are a few places where the trail splits but it’s pretty obvious which way to go as most of the wrong ways are blocked with sticks. I only came to one that wasn’t blocked around mile 4. I stayed right and that appeared to be correct pretty quickly after I passed a couple of other hikers coming down. This is not a hike for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely worth the push to get to the lake. If you’ve got weak knees, you’d probably benefit by hiking with poles. Bring lots of water and snacks and check the forecast for rain. Completed 7/28/18
Side note: Do NOT try to park in the grassy area to the back left as you pull in. Dude that lives nearby is a total ass hat - Save yourself the interaction with him.

2 months ago

Top

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked on 7/14/18. Great trail with amazing views and change of scenery. I’m a 24 year old in shape male and it took me 2 hrs 30 min up and 2 hrs 10 min down. My Garmin watch tracked this trail at exactly 5 miles up and 5 down. Somewhat challenging but definitely worth the reward.

hiking
2 months ago

Tackled this trail after not hiking in the Rockies for over 5 years. The beginning is an intense experience, gaining a lot of elevation quickly. After about 2 miles, it has more level ground but will steadily increase in elevation until you reach the lake at about 6 miles. It was very challenging for someone like myself who moved from sea level in North Carolina a month ago but other, more experienced hikers seemed to be cruising along. The views were worth every moment of short breath! Final note, AllTrails may say this trail is a little over 9 miles but I used a GPS tracker and it tracked me at 11.32 start to finish. Just something to consider. Overall, finished in 6 hours. 7/21/2018

hiking
3 months ago

This trail was challenging but very beautiful. The first part of the hike (1 mile or so) is tough but gives you an idea of what to expect for the remainder of the hike. Lots of creeks and streams to see as well as some little waterfalls. Did not see excessive wildlife but there were plenty of flowers budding and blooming. I'd say the wildflowers will be in full force in about a week or so. Great varying terrain to keep you entertained as you tackle the inclines. Nicely set up with flat parts to make the altitude change manageable. Very worth the climb; about 7 hours round trip. Hiked 7/10/2018

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike! Pretty tough on the knees going back down, but the views are definitely worth it. Avid hiker, my first “hard” trail. Took me 8 hours round trip.

3 months ago

Wonderful hike with beautiful views. Did this hike on 6/23- took about 6 hrs roundtrip

hiking
3 months ago

So me and my group tracked this trail at 10.2 miles, not sure where the 9.5 or even 12 mile distance is coming from. Let me preface my review with this: this is not a hike for beginners. The first mile really gives you an idea of what you'll be getting into(lots of steep incline climbs). Be sure to keep some extra socks just in case(I made the mistake of forgetting and had my ankles get cut up a bit from wet socks being drug down into my shoes after traversing some marsh and creeks). As far as wildlife, didn't see much besides some bees, squirrels, and snakes. We started our hike at 10:00am and finished around 3:00pm, so be prepared for about a 5 hour hike if you average about 3mph.
My major complaints about the hike:
-honestly, I think Booth Falls offers more as far as photographic beauty(and it happens to be right near the Pitkin Lake Trail). I'm not saying that Pitkin Lake Trail doesn't offer a lot of beauty, but I'm not sure the hardship of the hike was worth it.
-Speaking of hardships, the decline(especially the last 1.5 miles) is BRUTAL on the knees and hamstrings. I work out 5-6 days a week and usually run about 30-40 miles per week, and this hike STILL killed my legs. Be sure to bring some pedialyte to avoid cramping.

-Also, there were a few times me and my group got lost as the trail had a few points where it was difficult to understand where to go. I can only imagine how difficult this would be for hikers attempting this in the fall or winter.

Overall, I'm glad I did this hike, but it's not a hike that I would do again(mostly because the difficulty didn't have the payoff of many other hikes I've done in the state).

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked today. The snow has melted. There are water crossings. I would advice bring water shoes (Keens) strapped to your backpack and hiking poles. The wildflowers are just coming it. It was a lovely hike. It's probably spectacular in July.

hiking
4 months ago

I was up there today 6/12- gorgeous, challenging hike! Snow update: still some patches in the higher treed areas, but tracked so footprints to follow / no post-holing. It was very wet in higher places, so waterproof hiking footwear advised. The lake is partially melted :0)

trail running
4 months ago

I completed this trail on June 8. The last 1.5 miles have a fair amount of snow, which made the trail somewhat difficult to follow. I wore trail running sneakers which were fine - probably no need for snowshoes or microspikes. The lake was frozen and absolutely beautiful surrounded by snow covered mountains. Definitely worth the effort to see the lake at the end.

hiking
4 months ago

Don’t under estimate this trail. It’s starts hard but gets easier as it goes. Still has constant climb to the lake about the whole way. The view is worth it once you get there. Just a nice lake surrounded by mountains!! It was an amazing view and worth the gutsy climb!

hiking
9 months ago

I also lost my father's beloved grey/dark brown cashmere scarf, from Banana Republic but almost 20 years old. If anyone finds it - please, reach out. It may have been 'off-piste' or on the general trail, but I would so appreciate its return.

alexandrakonkina@gmail.com

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked this trail a week ago.

As some reviewers have noted below, the trail gets severely snowy towards the end. I suspect I was nearing the end of the trail, but I had to stop and turn around because I got very lost in the final stretch of trees. The trail almost completely disappeared and I was unable to find it (and on the way back) for about another half hour.

I was also alone, which wasn't the greatest idea. I would recommend hiking this trail in groups of 2 or more, especially in the winter. No mountain lion tracks, but some bobcat tracks were visible.

Good views, and a great workout. Not icy right now, but wear snow boots.

hiking
10 months ago

We hiked this trail yesterday and it was one of the prettiest trails I’ve ever hiked. As others have mentioned, It was hard to find the trail in certain points and it is uphill nearly the entire way, especially in the beginning and at the end. It was a great work out, taking us a little over three hours to get to the top and another two or so to the bottom. Definitely bring your snowshoes for the last part of the trek.

I would not recommend this hike for beginners, or for visitors who have yet to acclimate to the altitude. The views on this trail are amazing, especially once you get to the “meadow” section.

I’m excited to come back to this trail in the Summer or Fall when Aspens are in color. Super hike with not one other person on the trail. 5 Stars.

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