Trailhead: Hessie Trailhead

Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Snowshoeing (to a point)

Closest City / Town: Nederland, Colorado

Driving Directions:
  • From the Peak-to-Peak Highway (Highway 119/72), turn west on County Road 130, located just south of the center of the town of Nederland, and follow signs for Eldora Ski Resort and the town of Eldora.
  • At the fork in the road, keep right, through the town of Eldora.
  • At the end of town, continue westward as the pavement ends, following to the left at the next road fork for the Hessie Trailhead.
  • The Hessie 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.

***Please note that a stretch of the road from County Road 130 to the Hessie Trailhead is a cobblestone creek bed. It carries water year round and runs heavily in the early summer. It is passable by 2-wheel drive vehicles; however, high clearance is recommended. There is a parallel trail so hikers can bypass the water.***

Hiking Distance: (all distances are one way)
  • King Lake: 5.2 miles
  • Betty Lake: 5.5 miles
  • Bob Lake: 6 miles
  • High Lonesome Trail: 5.7 miles

Description: Outside of the first half mile, the trail is relatively flat all the way up until the final approach to the lakes.  The first .5 miles of hiking from the Hessie Trailhead (elevation 9,000′) follows an old jeep track strait uphill.

After nearly a mile, take a left and cross over the large, well-constructed bridge.  Continue on the trail, following signs pointing out the way to King Lake (like most of the trekking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Areas, the hike up to King, Bob, and Betty Lakes is well signed).  Much of the trail parallels the South Fork of the Middle Boulder Creek.

Worth Noting: Although it is dangerous to make the trip up to the lakes during winter, if you are seeking snowshoeing/cross country skiing solitude, this is the trail to travel.  Also, the snowfield above Bob Lake is a popular spring backcountry skiing/snowboarding destination because it is easily accessible from Rollins Pass.

In October 2003, Josh, one of this site’s authors, went on a solo backpacking trip up to the lakes.  Josh has reached the summit of over fifty 14ers & 13ers.  Interestingly enough, he started feeling a little dizzy and discombobulated while laying in his tent after climbing one of the peaks above Bob Lake.  This was the first and only time Josh has experienced the effects of altitude sickness.  He spent the rest of the evening hiking back to the trailhead – bummer.

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