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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

Dog Friendly Alpine Lakes in Colorado


Did you know Colorado has over 2000 alpine lakes? An alpine lake is defined as a lake over 10,000 feet elevation. Alpine lakes are one of my favorite parts of summer in Colorado. They are all so unique and show off magnificently bright colors surrounded by the tallest mountains in the state. The ideal time of year for alpine lake hikes is generally July through September, depending on the year-specific conditions and the individual location. Here are 10 of my favorite alpine lakes in Colorado. Questions about any of these hikes? Shoot me an email or Instagram DM.


Distance: 7.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 2837 feet

Location: near Silverton, CO

My thoughts: Check out Planning A Trip To The San Juan Mountains in Colorado for more details on this hike & the surrounding area. This hike starts with a strenuous first few miles, mostly made up of switchbacks. However, the views are absolutely worth the effort. Once you reach the tree line you are surrounded by the most stunning mountain views for the remainder of the hike. The lake itself is my favorite alpine lake in Colorado. The water is crystal clear providing the most breathtaking reflection I have ever seen. The wildflowers in July & August are also incredible.


Distance: 8.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 2509 feet

Location: near Ridgway, CO

My thoughts: Check out Planning A Trip To The San Juan Mountains in Colorado for more details on this hike & the surrounding area. This is one of the most well known hikes in Colorado, it is famous for the blue-gatorade colored water. The views in this area are some of my favorites in Colorado, particularly those of Mount Sneffels. This is also a relatively strenuous hike to reach the lakes. There are three lakes total on this route and I highly recommend at least going above the first lake for this iconic view. There are a few campsites near the first lake, if you want to backpack in. Given the popularity of this hike I highly recommend starting early. During the summer it will be busy even on a weekday.


Distance: 6.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 672 feet

Location: near Ward, CO

My thoughts: Check out Family-Friendly Lake Hikes in Colorado for more details on this hike. This is my favorite alpine lake near the Front Range. It is a relatively easy hike, featuring three total lakes, with minimal elevation gain and breathtaking views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. You do need a reservation for Brainard Lake Recreation Area to complete this hike.


Distance: 4.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 1433 feet

Location: near Crested Butte, CO

My thoughts: Located just outside Crested Butte, I highly recommend this hike in the fall because of the stunning contrast between the colorful aspens, the surrounding mountains and the lake. There are multiple routes you can take, so distance and elevation gain will vary. It is a moderate level hike with steady elevation gain.


Distance: 4.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 1066 feet

Location: near Georgetown, CO

My thoughts: Check out Family-Friendly Lake Hikes in Colorado for more details on this hike. This one is probably my most hiked route on the list. It is located conveniently about an hour from Denver and a moderate hike that is great for an introduction to Colorado hiking. If you go all the way to the top you will see three stunning lakes. My favorite part is relatively early on in the hike, the view from above looking down on Naylor Lake.


Distance: 16.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 3389 feet

Location: near Grant, CO

My thoughts: I completed this lake as a backpacking trip but it is doable as a day hike if you want a long and strenuous day. I wish it wasn’t such a long day because this lake has one of the most unique and stunning views. You will pass Helms Lake on the route too which is where we spent the night when backpacking. Abyss Lake is surrounded by two Colorado 14ers and has a backdrop of Sawtooth Ridge.


Distance: 2.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1030 feet

Location: near Alice, CO

My thoughts: Check out Family-Friendly Lake Hikes in Colorado for more details on this hike. This is the most family-friendly hike on the list because of how short it is. It is also a very easy drive from Denver making it a popular trail for visitors. It is a stunning lake surrounded by a glacier which holds snow all year round. I recommend hiking above the lake for this view. There is a parking fee that is cash only.


Distance: 16.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 4963 feet

Location: near Aspen, CO

My thoughts: I saw this lake as part of backpacking The Four Pass Loop but it can be done as a long day hike with multiple route options. Nestled in the Maroon Bells wilderness it is crystal clear with the magnificent Snowmass Mountain behind it. There are campsites around the lake and a permit is required for this area.


Distance: 3.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1079 feet

Location: near Alice, CO

My thoughts: This hike is lower trafficked and more remote than many of the others on the list and does entail an off-road drive to reach the trailhead, 4WD and moderate clearance recommended. Chinn’s lake is a short and straightforward hike but Slater Lake is less maintained and requires a bit of bushwhacking to reach. The wildflowers in this area are absolutely stunning. There are also a few dispersed camping sites on the road approach and around Chinns lake.


Distance: 6.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 2650 feet

Location: near Silverton, CO

My thoughts: Check out Planning A Trip To The San Juan Mountains in Colorado for more details on this hike & the surrounding area. This is a very popular hike in the summer and the parking is very limited so plan to arrive early. You will see two stunningly blue lakes surrounded by uniquely jagged peaks.




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