The Saddle Trail

HARD 3 reviews
#114 of 178 trails in

The Saddle Trail is a 15.9 mile out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for hiking.

15.9 miles
3,940 feet
Out & Back




wild flowers



no dogs

12 days ago

The hike is great! I started from Lawn Lake trailhead on Wednesday (8/1) at 740am and returned around 320pm. Wish I woulda started earlier so I could've bagged a couple of the 13ers at saddle but it was noon and clouds were rolling in (and I hadn't planned on doing any of them).

A few things:

-Per GAIA GPS: 17.19 miles, 7:36 hours, 3,884' ascent.
-Water. It's everywhere along trail - the river and then lots of creeks/streams up high. I filled up 2x.
-Clothing. Catherine is 100% right - long sleeves and pants are essential up high as you hike through pretty thick trees, bushes, plants.
-Once atop the saddle the cairns end so I just kinda wandered and walked around - wonderful views.
-I skipped the trail to the Crystal Lakes but scrambled up a little ridge on descent from Saddle to overlook the lakes - gorgeous!
-Once past Lawn Lake I only saw four total people! Ascent from TH to Lawn Lake I saw ~9, descent from Lawn Lake to TH ~20 people (and 7 horses).

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Hiked Sunday 8/6/17

One-Way Distance from Lawn Lake TH: 8.6 miles

To the east of Lawn Lake, a level and narrow unimproved trail meanders through the forest. It is easy to follow, but we did have to wade through bushes (often head-height) on several occasions and navigate wet patches. The trail begins to climb once on the far side of the lake, and the muddy, bushy sections continue as the trail heads for treeline. Definitely recommend wearing pants and long sleeves. It passes some lovely waterfalls and scores of wildflowers and affords great views of the peaks to the north. Once well above treeline, it switchbacks once to the right and reaches the Saddle/Crystal Lakes split, marked by a sign. We continued up to the Saddle first. This trail initially consists of several log stairs that gradually become more spaced out before disappearing altogether. The narrow trail is clear and only somewhat rocky, but is generally steeper than the trail to Lawn Lake. Soon after the split, you can see both of the Crystal Lakes below. The final pitch, either way ascended, is steep and loose and lacks switchbacks. Past the crux, the grade lessens a bit and you’ll reach the broad Saddle after a little more climbing.

The trail past the split is incredibly beautiful—you'll find yourself in a gorgeous alpine valley complete with wide expanses of tundra, wildflowers of all colors, waterfalls, views of the high peaks and their snowy couloirs, and only the sounds of distant water, wind, and chirping birds to be heard. Also saw many marmots, and two bull moose in the tall grasses right around treeline on the trip down. The Saddle itself is quite expansive and is covered in tundra grasses and flowers. The official trail ends, but we explored all around and found a rock outcropping to the NW that afforded great views of the Comanche Peaks Wilderness. The views of the talus slopes up 13ers Fairchild Mountain and Hagues Peak are quite impressive as well. In contrast to the ascent up, the top itself was very windy and thus quite cold even in the complete sunshine. Bring a windbreaker, hat, and perhaps gloves as well if you plan to stay and explore as we did. No other humans in sight the entire time — the tranquility was incredible. Highly recommend.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Gorgeous scenery, tons of wildflowers in late July/early August. Nice and quiet, not many go farther than Lawn Lake. Great views once you get up to the pass, but you do have to get up a steepish section of trail with loose rocks to get to it. Worth it for the view. Recommend starting early in the day, not much shade once you get past Lawn Lake.