Trailhead: Fourth of July Trailhead

Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

Closest City / Town: Nederland, Colorado

Driving Directions:

  • From Peak-to-Peak Highway (Highway 119/72), turn west on County Road 130, located just south of Nederland town center, and follow signs for Eldora and Eldora Ski Resort.
  • At the fork in the road, keep right, through the town of Eldora.
  • At the end of town, continue westward as the pavement ends.
  • Go right at the fork in the road (left will take you to the Hessie Trailhead).
  • Another 4 miles brings you to the 4th of July Trailhead.
  • This portion of the road is rough but passable in a passenger car.
  • The Fourth of July Trailhead sees extremely high use, especially on weekends, and parking is limited. Plan to arrive early and watch for signs along the road indicating legal parking spots if the trailhead parking lot is full.

Hiking Distances: (all distances are one way)

  • Fourth of July Mine: 2.0 miles
  • Arapaho Pass: 3.2 miles
  • Caribou Lake: Approximately 4 miles

Description: The hike up to Arapaho Pass, which tops out at 11,906′, and then down to Caribou Lake is a relatively rigorous jaunt.  However, the climb is steady and non-technical.  You will encounter 1,786′ in elevation gain along this great summer trek.  Always pay credence to the weather once you are above timberline; thunderstorms swiftly work their way through Indian Peaks in spring, summer, and fall.  As always, the Continental Divide is breathtaking.

Camping is available at Caribou Lake.  Permits are required for overnight stays between June 1 and September 15th.  The picture located at the top of this page exhibits Arapaho Pass.  If you look closely enough at the north-facing slope you will be able to make out the switchback trail down to Caribou Lake, which is a beautiful lake resting at the edge of timberline.

Worth Noting: About 0.5 miles from the Fourth of July Trailhead are a couple of large swaths of downed trees.  If memory serves us correctly, a large avalanche tore down the mountain during the winter of 2003.  From the top of the pass, it is definitely worth while to hike the short distance over to Lake Dorothy, which is just over 12,000′ in elevation.

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Colorada Adventure October 24, 2015 9:54 pm
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Beautiful hike and peaceful camping. Fond memories!