Woodland Lake Trailhead: Hessie Trailhead

Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Fishing

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 hikers can bypass the water.***

Hiking Distance: 4.3 miles (one way)

Description: The Hessie Trailhead (elevation 9,009′) is such a great starting point for any hiking adventure in Indian Peaks Wilderness because there are so many options to choose from.  One of the best options, in our opinion, is the trek up to Woodland Lake (elevation 10,972′).  Woodland Lake is nestled high in the mountains between the valley leading to King, Bob, and Betty Lakes and the valley winding up to Devil’s Thumb Pass.

Along the way you are bound to encounter numerous cascades and fields of wildflowers.  Woodland Lake is one of the most beautiful locations in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.  Be sure to allocate a full day to this hike.  You will have to deal with substantial elevation gain during this 8.6 mile roundtrip trek.

Initially, this hike follows an old jeep road for approximately .5 miles.  At the intersection of Devil’s Thumb Trail (Trail 902) and the Devil’s Thumb Bypass Trail, take a left and pass over the bridge.

After hiking a total of 1.4 miles, the trail hits the junction with the King Lake Trail (Trail 901).  Keep right on the Devil’s Thumb Trail.  Soon after entering the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area you will encounter the junction with the Woodland Lake Trail (Trail 811).  Take a left, and continue on up the trail for another 2 miles.  Woodland Lake awaits you in the vast cirque above.

Worth Noting: Skyscraper Reservoir is a mere .5 miles beyond Woodland Lake.  Why stop hiking early?

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