Trailhead: Hessie Trailhead

Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Fishing, 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 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; veer left at the next fork towards 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 that hikers can bypass the water.***

Hiking Distances: (one way)
  • Jasper Lake: 4.5 miles
  • Devil’s Thumb Lake: 5.5 miles
  • Continental Divide: 6.5 miles
  • Devil’s Thumb Pass: 7.1 miles

Description: Making the trek up to Devil’s Thumb Pass is a great, yet challenging, day hike experience.  You will gain approximately 3,000′ in elevation on this hike, topping out near 12,000′.

The view to the west of the pass includes a breathtaking panorama of Winter Park/Mary Jane, whereas the view to the east offers an unmistakable panorama of the Front Range and the plains of Colorado.

Backpackers can find ample spots to pitch a tent around Jasper Lake, as well a couple flat locations near Devil’s Thumb Lake.  Backpacking permits are required in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area between June 1 & September 15.  We have traveled to Jasper & Devil’s Thumb Lakes during the winter and would not recommend making the journey unless you truly know how to read the terrain.  There is significant avalanche danger if you stray off course or attempt to make the climb when avalanche conditions are unfavorable.

Worth Noting: There are a couple of martens who call Devil’s Thumb Lake home.  If you keep a close watch on the talus field on the north side of the lake, maybe you will catch a glimpse of one of these elusive creatures!  Also, there is a huge metal storage unit on the south side of Jasper Lake.

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