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Pitkin Lake Trail is a 10.5 mile heavily 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, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 10.5 mi Elevation gain 2,975 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Hiking

Nature trips

Bird watching

Forest

Lake

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Description
Waypoints (0)

This trail enters the Eagles Nest Wilderness. Wilderness regulations exist and are posted at the trailhead. Parking is very limited at this trailhead. Please consider taking the free Town of Vail bus from the Vail Village parking structure to access this trail.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (291)
Photos (308)
Recordings (204)
Completed (546)
Kelsie Gilbert
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
Hiking

Beautiful views all the way from the bottom to the top! Such a rewarding hike. Flowers are blooming making it even more scenic. Could be strenuous for those who aren’t used to hiking in high elevation.

Hannah Hylton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 09 2020
HikingMuddy
View Hannah's Recording
Alina Taniuchi
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
Hiking

Absolutely beautiful hike. A few muddy spots after a rain-heavy weekend, but all of the snow (except for a small patch) has melted from the trail. Lots of waterfalls, so many wildflowers, and few people. There is somewhat limited parking & agreed with previous reviews that it’s a little longer (10.5 miles probably) than wants on AllTrails. The stream crossing at the avalanche area might be a little difficult for some, but keep an eye out for Mount of the Holy Cross as you head up the hill from there. The Lake is surrounded by huge mountains and still has a few icebergs left. It is just above treeline so keep an eye/ear out for lightening & enjoy!

Alissa Nemmers
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jun 30 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

A MUST DO! This trail is spectacularly beautiful! ...but also hard... give yourself 3-6 hours depending on your ability level, and experience hiking in high elevations. I passed many waterfalls and ultimately made it to the lake that was a little frozen still. My Garmin said the hike was about 10.5 and some people I passed also said it was more like 10 or 11 miles not 9.5.

Andres O
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jun 28 2020
Hiking

A semi frozen lake surrounded by tall peaks awaits. Impressive views, beautiful wild flowers and a distant waterfall are all part of the scenery. Trail is mostly easy to follow. A few snow patches along the way could complicate things. Some sections are muddy but generally manageable. Would definitely recommend if looking for a strenuous yet rewarding hike!

Liz Sollitt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jun 26 2020
HikingSnow

Super fun trail! Make sure to start before 11 if you want to make it to the top to avoid adverse weather

View Liz's Recording
Tam e
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jun 22 2020
HikingMuddyOff trailSnow

Difficult hike but worth it. Within 1/4 mile from the lake, we lost the trail because of all the snow. But with a little route finding skills (it’s obvious where the lake is), we managed our way to a lunch spot next to the lake. Lake is mostly frozen. Windy and cold during lunch. After leaving the lake, we took a slightly different way back to avoid the streams we crossed during our route finding. Got a little rained on just before our car.

Vanessa Church
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Jun 18 2020
Hiking

Challenging hike. Almost made it to the lake but there's still a fair amount of snow above 10700' (mile 4ish on my recording); had to turn around at 11100' (5.3 miles). Otherwise an awesome hike: great views, wildflowers showing their color, and only a handful of other people out. Will definitely be back to do the whole thing once the snow melts.

Anna Praamsma
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Jun 16 2020
HikingBugs

Beautiful, got a late start so our own fault for now finishing. Gorgeous river views the whole time

View Anna's Recording
Alexis Bundy
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri May 29 2020
Hiking

Left early. Only saw 1 other person on the trail. About 2.5 miles in it gets too snowy to continue... still a beautiful hike though!

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Chris Haas
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarThu Oct 24 2019
HikingMuddySnow

Reasonably challenging and well rewarded at the end but our hike was spoiled by recent snow, muddy and slippery conditions. I would not recommend this trail without hiking poles after recent snowfall.

Melissa Thayer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Oct 20 2019
Hiking

Great hike for as far as we could get! The trail was looking beautiful but currently pretty covered in snow. Only made it about 3 miles before we had to turn back due to super low visibility, lots of wind, and hard to follow trail conditions

View Melissa's Recording
Stefanie Klapper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Oct 06 2019
Hiking

Hard hike in Vail 10/5

View Stefanie's Recording
Jennifer G.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Oct 05 2019
Hiking

BEAUTIFUL hike! Was not prepared for how steep some parts of the trail were. I also had a nice, fully packed backpack in case it rained and had lunch/snacks available - my fault in preparing the heavy tote! I would have brought trekking poles but did not think of it. The Aspens were BOOMIN' and were so, amazingly beautiful. Definitely picked the perfect weekend for the trek. The others I were with cruised ahead of me and that gave me a chance to actually enjoy the views and Aspens; really take it all in at my own pace. Sat at the lake for snacks/lunch and soaked in the absolute wonder of the scenery. Cold and windy at the lake, parts of the hike were hot, some were chilly. I couldn't decide if I was hot or cold so I ended up just keeping my light pullover on. Parking was mildly difficult due to the amount of people hiking - but, we saw more people on the way down than on the way up. My old, trusty hiking boots were a necessity - especially since they are waterproof (there are some puddles/streams along the way)!! ENJOY!

Tiffany Boeh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Oct 03 2019
Hiking

This was a great hike with a verity of different scenery!! Steady uphill hike. Some parts in the trees and some through meadows. It was windy at the lake but over all great hike. It’s says it was 9.5 miles but I got 10miles.

Alyssa Workman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Oct 03 2019
Hiking

Awesome trail with fantastic views of aspens all over. It’s definitely steep, but the trek is so worth it. The parking lot is very small, so if you’re hiking on a weekend, get there early if you plan on parking at the trail head.

Caleigh Rice
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Oct 02 2019
Hiking

Great trail! Clocked 10.7mi. Arrived at the TH at 815am, very small parking lot but still spots available since it was a weekday. The hike up was fairly steep but saw tons of aspen trees and the lake at the end was beautiful!

Jordan Sandt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Sep 30 2019
Hiking

Awesome hike. tracked at just under 12 miles. fall colors were absolutely insane. There are frequent steep parts on the trail but I loved how many different types of terrain there was. One of my favorites for sure.

debbie wivholm
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Sep 28 2019
Hiking

Great as it was close proximity to vail - not much for scenery other than the fall colors which were great! Saw some mountain goats at the top

View debbie's Recording
Jenny K
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Sep 25 2019
Hiking

this trail is worth the effort and i didn’t even make it to the lake today! The grade is very steep In parts, especially at the beginning, but as you settle in it’s still “work” just not as aggressive! :) i love the views to the south at around 2.5 miles in. I was out of time and had to turn back around 3.8 miles, but would like to get to the lake on my next go. Saw a couple little snakes in the grassy/sunny meadows. I’d recommend long pants and good hiking socks with legit hiking shoes.

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Susan Bean
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Sep 25 2019
HikingRocky

Our group is comprised of active 50 & 60 year olds from AR. Not being able to train with altitude made this climb very challenging. We carried heavy packs for 5 hours so we could camp almost at the top (where the avalanche happened). Frequent breaks were a must for us. We hiked to the lake the next morning which was an additional 2 hours. Absolutely gorgeous! The rocky steep terrain was challenging but we’re glad we did it. My husband took his fishing pole and caught 5 trout in 15 casts very quickly. The scenery was golden, many beautiful waterfalls, and a nice combination of woods and open meadows. This was the perfect time of year to go.

Sarah Lapp
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Sep 25 2019
Hiking

Simply magical, aspens were all gold and perfect. Trail is 9.6 miles and took my 5.5 hours today (with a 30min lunch break at lake), gorgeous views the whole time. Very steep at beginning, but levels out nicely. Small avalanche debris field-but the trail is very clear and there’s no issues there. Would highly recommend this one!

M WOLFE
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Sep 11 2019
Hiking

Lake is beautiful but lots of work to get there. two gps readings over 12miles over 3200 ft elevation. Over 4miles in the woods. Views are at the end.

Jennie B.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Sep 10 2019
Hiking

Arrived on Tuesday @ 6:45am. Took my time with a few extra breaks. Completed this with my 6lb yorkie. Hardly any bugs, perfect weather, challenging and lucky we were basically the only ones on the trail. Lake is a beauty early in the am with crystal clear water.

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Danielle Lehle
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Sep 07 2019
Backpacking

Backpacked up to the lake over 9/7-9/8. Still quite a few flowers out in the upper half of the hike, with lots of asters as well as paintbrush and other flowers in wet areas. The first half mile is pretty steep, then it's a moderate climb through aspen and conifer forests (and a few meadows) to the second waterfalls. There's a clear path through the avalanche/debris field here. I only found the log crossing over the creek and was glad to have hiking poles to do it with an overnight pack. From here it's a series of steep climbs and plateaus up to the lake, with the flowers and scenery getting better the further you go. Pitkin Lake itself is a beautiful tarn surrounded by rocky ridges on three sides. I camped out on the ridge around the lake, but no campfire since I was within a quarter-mile of the lake. I had the lake to myself from about 3pm on Saturday until 10:30am on Sunday morning - well, me and the mosquitoes! (Yep, there are still mosquitoes, particularly if you're a mosquito magnet like me). Three mountain goats came through my camp on Sunday morning. Alltrails tracked me at 10 miles roundtrip from the trailhead to the lake and back. It took me about 4 hours to get up to the lake and 2.5 hours to get down.

Julie Popovici
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Aug 30 2019
Hiking

Tough but beautiful hike. My husband and I got married at the top, so I might be biased when I say it's one of my favorite Colorado hikes. Go early to try to beat the storms and plan on a steep climb at the end.

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