Lake Dorothy

Trail Length: 8.25 miles (roundtrip)
Trailhead Elevation: 10,119’
High Point:  12,119’
Elevation Gain: +2,000’ (Total Elevation Gain: 2,025’)
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead Location: Lake Dorothy is accessed from the Fourth of July Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Nederland, Colorado. From downtown Nederland, go south on Highway 72 for .5 miles to County Road 130 and make a right. You will see a sign for Eldora Ski Resort at this junction. Continue on Highway 130 through the town of Eldora, just past which it becomes a dirt road (4 miles).

Continue on the dirt road (past the Hessie Trailhead) another 4.8 miles and take the right fork at the Buckingham Campground up into the designated parking area. Though suitable for most 2WD cars in good condition, the road between the Hessie turnoff and Fourth of July Trailhead can be rough. High clearance vehicles are recommended.


I’m always looking for new hikes if possible. I realized I had never hiked to Lake Dorothy in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This summer we have been on several hikes in Indian Peaks and it made me realize just how beautiful this area is. Because it’s such a beautiful area, it is also very popular. However, getting an early start helps avoid some of the crowds. We have disciplined ourselves this summer to set the alarm very early on a weekend day so we can get up to the trailhead before the majority of the crowds. The early morning light is also better for photography as well.

Lisa was out of town this weekend, so it was going to be a solo hike today. I set the alarm for 4:45am, was on the road by 5:15am, and at the trailhead starting the hike at 6:45am.

Early morning light on the surrounding peaks as I headed up the trail.




The wildflowers were in full bloom along the trail.

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About a mile up the trail, a beautiful waterfall cascading across the trail.

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Shortly past the waterfall, I came to the split for Diamond Lake .  Lisa and I had hiked to this lake several years ago – another beautiful lake. I took the right fork to head in the direction of Arapaho and Caribou Pass.

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More beautiful wildflowers as I headed up the trail.

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A shot to the west with Mt. Neva (12,814’) to the right.


At 2.05 miles I came to the split for Arapaho Glacier. I continued on up Arapaho Pass.

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A look up the trail as it heads up towards Arapaho Pass.


A shot of me with Arapaho Pass behind me.


At 3.15 miles I came to the Arapaho Pass/Caribou Pass trail split atop of the Continental Divide. I took the Caribou Pass trail to the left.

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From this saddle, I had great views looking down into the valley at Caribou Lake. Mount Achonee is to the left and Dickers Peck, Apache Peak, and Navajo Peak to the center right.

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Santana Peak to the left with Caribou Lake below.

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A shot to the northwest where there was a sea of clouds down in the valley.

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I soon arrived on the northeast shore of Lake Dorothy after 3.65 miles. Lake Dorothy sits at 12,094’ and is the highest named lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. I had the lake to myself. It does pay to get an early start!

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I walked around to the south shore of the lake to take a break and take in the views.


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Dickers Peck, Apache Peak, and Navajo Peak viewed from Lake Dorothy.

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My signature shot of my hiking boots at the lake!

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As I sat, I saw a group of hikers/backpackers heading on up Caribou Pass. I loved this shot of a solo hiker against the cloud.

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After my break, I headed back around to the northeast shore of the lake. The air was fairly calm and provided some nice reflection shots.


A shot of me at the lake.

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I hiked up the small ridge on the north side to get more views of the lake.

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A look on the other side of the saddle at the trail that heads down to Caribou Lake.

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Heading back down the Arapaho Pass trail.


A couple of more shots looking back up towards Mt. Neva.

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Mount Jasper and Mount Neva.

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More stunning flowers along the trail.


As I continued back down the trail and got back to the Diamond Lake cutoff, I was seeing many more people on the trail. Glad again that I had gotten an early start to avoid the crowds. I was back to the car at around 11:45am and headed home.

My route to Lake Dorothy.

Lake Dorothy Map

A beautiful day in Indian Peaks and a new lake to check off of my list!



6 thoughts on “Lake Dorothy

  1. Love that photo of the solo hiker in front of the cloud, and the zigzagging trail. There is a Dorothy Lake in Yosemite, the northern-most tip. I don’t know how to get there but I have a large photo of it in my family room. One of these days I’ll make it there.

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