Colorado Alpine lakes

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sierra

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I plan a trip to CO this summer, approximately 2 weeks. I will be driving with my dog, so more like one week in the state. I plan on some high climbs, but I also want to have the option of hiking into alpine lakes. All my experience in CO is on the 14ers and I know there are many non peak hikes that are spectacular. Any suggestions would be great, I plan on mixing it up, hard climbs, followed by hikes into lakes.
 
Just about every valley in the Colorado Front Range west of Boulder has multiple spectacular alpine lakes, including tarns in many headwater cirques, along with a few tiny alpine glaciers clinging to life. I think that as long you are south of Rocky Mountain National Park along the Peak-to-Peak Highway you will be fine with your doggy. Another area that is off limits to dogs and humans alike is the Arapaho Glacier / Green Lakes watershed northwest of Nederland as it is the city of Boulder’s water supply. Most of my time in these valleys over the past 45+ years has been in winter on xc skis hauling lake sediment coring equipment for paleoclimate reconstruction.
 
I try to get a week in out there every August/September. Spent a few days in the Mt Zirkel wilderness last year (from Seedhouse Rd); highly recommend. The "typical" stunning scenery, but much quieter than other parts of CO that I have been to (though that trailhead lot is not big and was overflowing).
 
Last year in mid-May, we hiked up to a few amazing alpine lakes in Colorado. These were all spectacular and really enjoyable. First two were suggested by a friend who's a longtime resident of Estes Park, and who hiked with me and my partner.

One consideration is you may need a timed parking pass -- do read up on the current situation with parking in RMNP. I was getting them online in the late afternoon when a bunch were released, for use the next day. Alternatively, get to a lot before a pass is needed (6am, IIRC).

Here are some AllTrails links. First two are off of Rt 7 south of Estes Park:

Sandbeach Lake - wonderful, felt remote, with huge mountains around
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/sandbeach-lake-trail
Chasm Lake - awesome rock walls above the lake - caution: there was a potentially dangerous snow field crossing, microspikes absolutely needed especially as it gets melty in the afternoon. This feature is mentioned in some of the reviews here.
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/chasm-lake
This one is a circuit of several lakes, southwest of Estes. Bear Lake is right there too at the parking lot:

Nymph, Dream, Emerald, Haiyaha Lakes - warning: extremely touristy, go very early like before 6am to avoid the crowds. The first part of the path is paved, but as you go up it feels wilder, and the views were great.
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/...ier-and-nymph-dream-emerald-and-haiyaha-lakes
Have a great time!
 
Also if you just want to unwind a bit, without a hike, the hot springs are pretty awesome too. I loved Hot Sulphur Springs, and camped across the street in a town campground. There are many springs all around the state.
 
Last year in mid-May, we hiked up to a few amazing alpine lakes in Colorado. These were all spectacular and really enjoyable. First two were suggested by a friend who's a longtime resident of Estes Park, and who hiked with me and my partner.

One consideration is you may need a timed parking pass -- do read up on the current situation with parking in RMNP. I was getting them online in the late afternoon when a bunch were released, for use the next day. Alternatively, get to a lot before a pass is needed (6am, IIRC).

Here are some AllTrails links. First two are off of Rt 7 south of Estes Park:

Sandbeach Lake - wonderful, felt remote, with huge mountains around
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/sandbeach-lake-trail
Chasm Lake - awesome rock walls above the lake - caution: there was a potentially dangerous snow field crossing, microspikes absolutely needed especially as it gets melty in the afternoon. This feature is mentioned in some of the reviews here.
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/chasm-lake
This one is a circuit of several lakes, southwest of Estes. Bear Lake is right there too at the parking lot:

Nymph, Dream, Emerald, Haiyaha Lakes - warning: extremely touristy, go very early like before 6am to avoid the crowds. The first part of the path is paved, but as you go up it feels wilder, and the views were great.
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/...ier-and-nymph-dream-emerald-and-haiyaha-lakes
Have a great time!
Thank for taking the time to give me feedback. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in National parks and I always have my dog with me. Thanks again.
 
Thank for taking the time to give me feedback. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in National parks and I always have my dog with me. Thanks again.
Yup, reason that I noted CFR south of RMNP. Probably most popular 13er in the CFR is Mt Audubon, which has a trail to the summit. Many of the other peaks involve a little scrambling, but my guess is that your doggie would be up for most of them. Fourth of July valley just south of Boulder’s watershed has lots of mining history and great views from a side trail on the south side of Arapaho Peak with a view down to the off-limits Arapaho Glacier, Colorado’s largest, and the watershed. At the head of valley is Lake Dorothy, just below Mt Neva on the Continental Divide. A trail at Arapaho Pass drops about 1200 ft down to Caribou Lake. Backcountry camping reservations can be made online, required for this Indian Peaks Wilderness area.
 
Thank for taking the time to give me feedback. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in National parks and I always have my dog with me. Thanks again.
Not quite a blanket ban - a bit more nuanced, But it is a pain when you want to hike with your dog,
 
Oh I forgot about the NP dog policy! Our host had two who stayed home for this reason, as did our two, back in CT - we drove out so conceivably could have brought them, and missed them tremendously.

We also camped on the shore of Turquoise Lake just outside of Leadville, at the Belle of Colorado campground, I think because they had first-come first-serve spots that were open, and allowed tents. Since you drive up it's not exactly what you're looking for, I'd guess, but it was nice. According to this page about the campground, dogs allowed but must be leashed at all times:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recarea/?recid=12449
I also found this page, likely you've seen it, about pet policy at RMNP. There's a table here of places you *can* take a dog outside of the park and nearby, and some lakes are mentioned.
https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/pets.htm
I haven't been to Indian Peaks Wilderness (mentioned on the above page), but it sounds promising ("many spectacular lakes")
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/arp/recarea/?recid=80803
I'm also interested in this question as we may bring the dogs next time.
 
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Not quite a blanket ban - a bit more nuanced, But it is a pain when you want to hike with your dog,
Not allowed off the pavement on any trails or in any meadows and such. As a hiker, that amounts to a full ban for me. I'm not going out there to sightsee from the parking lots.
 
Not allowed off the pavement on any trails or in any meadows and such. As a hiker, that amounts to a full ban for me. I'm not going out there to sightsee from the parking lots.
Different parks have slightly different regulations - what is true in RMNP is not the same as Acadia for example
 
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