Waterdog Lakes Trail is a 3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Salida, Colorado and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, fishing, and snowshoeing and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
3.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,076 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

fishing

hiking

snowshoeing

rocky

Some sites list this trail as easy, but it is very rocky and steep in some places, plus being above 10,000 ft to the tree line. Definitely not a stroll through Garden of the Gods. You will encounter a lot of mosquitos, so be prepared, and wear good trail shoes. Parts are so very lush and green, bring a camera. The trail follows a river part of the way and is very pretty, then winds back through the forest up steep and rocky inclines following a powerline trail. There are a couple river crossings, and you may encounter snow. The lower lake is nice, and the upper is pretty too.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice hike even though I didn't make it to the top. I started too late in the day and didn't feel comfortable hiking back in the dark. The trailhead is tough to find from the highway. The 2.3 miles from Monarch Lodge is accurate though and there is a sign for Monarch Sled Dog Rides right at the upper end of the parking area. The trail starts at the downhill end of the parking area.
It is a steep trail for a mid-westerner like myself but a good challenge.

hiking
2 months ago

There's a trailhead sign, but it's difficult to see from the HWY as it's behind some trees/branches. The easiest way to find the trailhead is just to look at where the lake's outlet stream crosses the HWY on a map (let google maps guide you, but best to download an offline map before hand). Plenty of parking across the street in dirt turn offs.

The way up isn't bad, the steeper parts are often followed by moderate sections and I didn't have to stop too many times to catch my breath. The trail is fairly rocky, so you'll have to keep your eyes on the road. Nice tree cover the whole way. Made it the upper lake in about 70 minutes and back down in about 45 minutes.

The trail to the upper lake isn't obvious; I just headed to the opposite side of the first lake and hiked straight up the hill behind the dispersed site on the other side. Once you get to the top of that hill you have to cross a boulder field. You can avoid jumping boulders by finding your way a bit the left of where you came up the hill and then follow the faint path across the field where you don't have to do any "jumping".

The shores of the upper lake are pretty rocky and tree covered, so don't expect a nice beach up there. However the views are stunning, especially with the fall colors in full swing right now.

I'm giving 4 stars because the way to the upper lake isn't obvious and also I saw so many people up there. I prefer something a bit more secluded.

2 months ago

I only gave four stars due to the difficulty finding the trailhead and the trail to the second lake. ***Another reviewer posted directions which were very helpful. The trailhead is directly across from the lower parking area. (I’m posting a pic with an arrow.) Highway 50 is very busy, so be sure to have a good hold on your pups/kids and look both ways before crossing!
Otherwise — wow! What a beautiful trail. It is very rocky and steep, but my three 12-year-old pups did fine. If you have knee issues I definitely suggest trekking poles. There are several stream crossings where they can get water, and of course the lake where they can swim. We encountered no mosquitos at the first lake, but didn’t get to the second due to a storm coming in. We went on Sunday and only saw three other groups/individuals.

2 months ago

great quick beautiful rewarding hike.

hiking
2 months ago

Who doesn’t like a trail with an objective? This one leads to a couple of alpine lakes. Beautiful views all around and we barely saw anyone. Our dogs were able to run off leash

2 months ago

The hike was beautiful. There is parking on the opposite side of the road to the trailhead. Google maps said to turn right but there was no road. we went up with kids aged 6 and under. The hike said it was 3 miles but my Fit Bit said 5 miles. Good to know with kiddos. The lake was pretty and worth the hike.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike and a beautiful view once you get to the top!

hiking
3 months ago

Definitely a moderate trail. Long hike up, but worth it. No cell phone signal on verizon contrary to previous reports. The trail head is across the street , took a minute for us to find. Great hike!

hiking
4 months ago

Reviews are serious about the mosquitos at the upper lake! If you don't have bug spray, you'll hate it up there. Walk around a little & explore, you get better views of the mountains around the lake.
Not too crowded on a Sunday afternoon.

4 months ago

Great hike. Difficult to locate trail to second lake.

fishing
4 months ago

Pretty steep climb the whole way up but worth it once you make it to the lake. Caught 3 trout in just about 20 minutes of fishing. Surprising feature - had cell service the whole time.

4 months ago

Consistently uphill to the lake so it’s a great workout with a beautiful lake 1.5 miles up.

hiking
5 months ago

Great hike! Was challenging enough but not too much. Beautiful view at the top with two lakes. Pretty quiet trail, I went on a Monday though.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail- the directions below re trailhead location are very accurate. The map feature on all trails will take you right to the parking area.

There are two dispersed camping sites that I saw at the upper lake, which would have a nice view from a tent! As well as several at the lower lake. If you start walking around the upper lake to the left they are there. We camped overnight and with bug spray were a ok.

5 months ago

I hiked this a few days ago after snowshoeing it this winter. Great hike with boys ages 6-10. Be sure to go to the second lake!! It is right above the first lake, follow the trail to the left once you get to the lower lake. It isn’t far and it well worth it.

As people have mentioned, the trailhead can be a challenge to find. Coming from Salida/Poncha, watch for the campground sign. Not long after that you’ll see two large parking areas to your left, and a trailhead sign on the right.

The trail is clear with a few small patches of snow.

backpacking
5 months ago

Beautiful area and not very busy on a Friday afternoon, saw more foot traffic Saturday afternoon.

Waterdog lakes has a few nice camping spots, didn't see any spots around the other lakes. The area has a lot of beetle killed trees.

Most of the trail had tree cover, sunscreen optional.

Two water crossing both were easy to cross. Took pictures and are on my recorded track.

Did the trail in early June, there was still snow around the lake and the trail was clear.

AllTrails does not have a way to communicate with other outdoor enthusiast, I can be reached on Facebook Messenger if you have any questions about this trail.

hiking
5 months ago

I've always enjoyed hikes with a goal at the end, this one fit the bill! Although relatively short, the grade and the rough, rocky terrain underfoot can prove challenging, or at least forces you to pay attention to the trail if you enjoy keeping your ankles intact. We had a wonderful hike, creeks were flowing from runoff, snow angels in May, and a picturesque lakefront picnic, perfect. Will probably hike again and try to make it up to the upper lake, we ran short on time. Oh, and someone had mentioned a lot of mosquitoes, a lot is an understatement. They sounded like a hovering drone there were so many in the trees at the lake. Oddly enough we did not get harassed by them much.

5 months ago

Pretty steep climb to the top, but the lake is beautiful.

hiking
11 months ago

Very hard to find! And don't count on GPS. I followed another reviews directions and I passed it a few times before finding it. Great uphill hike!! great views, and a beautiful lake at the top. That and the creeks were all frozen over. (12/6)

11 months ago

Is there enough snow on the trail for snowshoeing?

hiking
Sunday, November 05, 2017

Nice hike today with the kids (7 and 9). We didn't all have necessary gear so we stopped a little over half way to the lake. Just a couple of inches of snow toward the bottom and closer to 6" where we turned around.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Beautiful with creek running alongside the trail at first. Quiet and heavily wooded pathway. It was quite steep and very rocky. The view of the lake was worth the effort.

hiking
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

This is a nice, short hike. Only about 2 miles 1 way, straight up. Very lush with a nice creek towards the bottom and the beautiful lake up top.

hiking
Friday, August 04, 2017

Had trouble finding the trail head so I thought I would share knowledge. In short, there is no sign for trailhead, but I was able to find it with the below directions:
From the east take U.S. Highway 50 out of Poncha Springs and pass through the small areas of Maysville and Garfield. After passing through Garfield you will pass quite an extensive abandoned mining area on the left. After passing the mining area the Waterdog Lakes signed trailhead will be on the right within a short distance with roadside gravel parking on the left between mile markers 202 and 203. If you reach the Monarch Park campground road you have gone to far.

Thought this might help the next person. BTW, beginning of trail is super steep.

hiking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

This is a steep, rocky out-and-back route through a fragrant fir forest. The lower lake is nice, but the upper lake is even better, so head on up after you catch your breath. The trail from the lower lake to the upper one crosses a boulder field. We had to riff that section but the trail was easy to pick up after we got to the top. The trail head sign is not visible from the highway.

hiking
Saturday, July 22, 2017

Trail starts off with a beautiful stream, you hit a nice elevation gain about 1/2 way in and are rewarded with a very pretty lake. Fairly strenuous for a short hike due to 1,100' gain in elevation.

hiking
Monday, July 10, 2017

Beautiful little trail. Trailhead is a bit tricky to locate but not all that hard. My 58 year old wife, our Brittany dog, and I made this hike with some difficulty. We are Texans on a hiking vacation and are not well acclimated to the altitude. If you are visiting and thinking about this one I would recommend it. The lake is postcard perfect.

hiking
Saturday, July 08, 2017

easy little trail to do. hard to find trail head for first timer. beautiful views. short and sweet trail close to Salida.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Wonderful trail to hike. Lots of water and shade along the trail for your pooch too!

hiking
Monday, May 29, 2017

Lake is still frozen and trail is completely covered in snow. Will come back in summer as I'm sure it would be very pretty!

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