Round-Trip Length: 4.33 miles (out-and-back)
Start Elevation: 8,863’
High Point: 9,984’
Elevation Change: 1,121’
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location: From Lake City, travel 1/4 mile north on Highway 149 to Balsam Road. Turn left onto Balsam and continue to the Trailhead which is well signed. This Trailhead is the access point for Crystal Lake Trail #235, Larson Lake Trail #236 (which includes Thompson Lake).
At the end of June we took a long weekend and drove to Lake City and the San Juan Mountains. We enjoyed exploring around the area both by car and by foot. On our last day (Sunday) we decided to take a hike up to Thompson Lake. We were looking for a hike with not a lot of distance. A lot of the other hikes in the area were longer and also included more elevation gain. We headed out to the trailhead and began our hike around 10:50am.
As we headed up the trailhead, we realized we forgot to stop in town and pick up some mosquito repellent. This is something we don’t normally carry with us as generally, we don’t have a problem with mosquitos. However, this spring much of Colorado has received much more rain than usual and the crop of mosquitos is much bigger than normal. We soon regretted not getting some very powerful repellent as the mosquitos were relentless on the trail, swarming about us constantly. We continued up the trail, but the hike was not enjoyable as were being eaten alive!
The first mile of the trail follows an old jeep road up. It passes through some nice aspen groves.
The trail climbs 570’ in the first mile where it intersects with the Crystal Lake trail. We turned right and continued up a single-track trail towards Thompson Lake.
We continued to climb and get eaten my mosquitos.
A view to the south. This trail would be beautiful in the Fall when the aspens are golden.
There were many beautiful purple lupine along the trail.
Around 2 miles we came to the turnoff for Thompson Lake.
We were determined to get to the lake despite the mosquitos. We were sure it would all be worth it to see a spectacular mountain lake. After traveling a short distance up the spur trail, we arrived at the lake. Needless to say, we were somewhat disappointed. Thompson Lake is not the most picturesque lake we have seen. We were envisioning a beautiful lake surrounded by snowcapped peaks. Instead, this was our view.
After snapping a couple of pictures, we wasted no time and headed back down the trail.
We tried to enjoy the wildflowers as we rushed down the trail.
A beautiful overview of Lake City as we continued on down the trail towards the trailhead.
An overview of our hike and route.
We were glad to get back into the car and away from the mosquitos. I love hiking but I will have to admit, this hike was not as enjoyable as many others! Now we just have to hope we can survive the aftermath of all of the mosquito bites!