Round-Trip Length: 4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 8,642’ – 9,786’
Elevation Change: +1,144’
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location: 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). 2WD drive conditions end 4.8 miles from the Highway 72 turnoff. 4WD vehicles may veer left at this demarcation and continue another .5 miles to the trailhead. Others will have to park at one of the limited roadside spaces and walk the 4WD road to the Hessie Trailhead.
There are several nice hikes that start from the Hessie Traihead near Eldora. I did a winter snowshoe hike up to Lost Lake a couple of years ago but we hadn’t been up in the summer for quite some time. We headed out around 9:15am on a beautiful Sunday morning. The one thing I was worried about as we headed out was the parking at the trailhead. Any Colorado trailhead is going to be busy on a Sunday in August and I knew that there was very limited parking at the Hessie Trailhead. As we turned off of Highway 72 onto 130 we soon saw a sign that told us the Hessie Trailhead parking was full and directed us to turn into a shuttle parking lot.
I didn’t know that they now offered shuttle parking for this trailhead. We parked in the Nederland Middle/High School parking lot and waited about 15-20 minutes for the shuttle to arrive to take us to the trailhead. The shuttle dropped us off at the end of the 2WD road where we started our hike (0.5 miles from the actual Hessie Trailhead).
A short ways down the trail we came to a small pond with great reflections. I always need to stop for reflection pictures!
After a 0.5 mile hike up the trail, we came to the old Hessie townsite.
Hessie became a town because it was halfway between Lost Lake and Eldora and made a good stopping point for gold miners. Hessie was named for the wife of the town’s founder. Hessie also served as the postmistress for the town. In the last 1890s, the town of Hessie was large enough to have a post office, school, sawmill and one or two stores. By 1914 only a few stalwarts still called Hessie home as the high-grade gold vanished.
A short distance from the townsite is the start of the official trail.
There were an abundance of wildflowers along the trail.
We were soon hiking along the South Fork of Middle Boulder Creek.
After 1.35 miles you come to the King Lake – Devil’s Thumb bypass. The Lost Lake trail forks to the left and continues on up through the trees.
We continued to the left over the creek. A couple of shots of the creek at the crossing.
Just under 0.25 miles further up the trail from the trail split, we came to a beautiful waterfall dropping through a narrow chute. The mist off of the waterfall felt very refreshing!
There were some beautiful columbine in the area. Lisa stopping to get some close up shots of the flowers.
A short distance further up the trail (1.6 miles from our start), we came to the Lost Lake trail split.
We headed to the left and continued on up towards the lake. Another bridge crossing along the trail.
A beautiful purple flower near the bridge crossing.
We soon arrived at the western edge of Lost Lake. We hiked around the northern shore of the lake, first at a higher level.
A view through the trees of the Continental Divide to the west.
We then dropped down closer to the shore. Some beautiful Indian Paintbrush along the trail.
We found a nice spot on a rock by the lake’s shore to have our lunch and take in the views.
Of course I can never get enough of the reflection pictures.
A couple of shots of both Lisa and I taking in the views at the lake.
There were some ducks out on the lake also enjoying the nice day.
After spending a little over an hour at the lake, we decided to head back down.
A few more shots of the South Fork of Middle Boulder Creek as we headed down.
A view looking down the valley to the east.
More wildflowers along the trail.
We also came across a snake crossing the trail. Not sure what kind it is.
One last reflection picture in a puddle along the 4WD section of the trail near the start.
An old cabin near the start of our hike as we arrived back at the shuttle pickup.
We caught the shuttle back to our car and took a quick drive up to check out Mud Lake Open Space just north of Nederland before stopping at the Sundance Café just outside of Nederland where we had a nice early dinner overlooking the Continental Divide before heading home!