Length: 4 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Hessie (39.95415, -105.60250)
Why we love it: You’ll skirt the crowds headed to Eldora and find a sliver of solitude on this not-too-challenging route that weaves through Roosevelt National Forest.
Pre-hike fuel: Don’t let the name deceive you, Decent Bagel slings some of the best brekky in town. Opt for the Full Send—a savory sandwich piled with egg, cheese, sausage, bacon, and hash brown—so you don’t get hangry on the trail.
Post-hike buzz: Hit up Busey Brews for a hearty selection of smoked meats and house-brewed beers. They also offer options for vegetarians, vegans, and non-drinkers, including a barbecue tofu platter and house-made kombucha.
Restrooms: None
Dogs: Allowed

We love this hike in warm weather, especially when the aspens are peaking, but it’s equally beautiful—and more serene—come winter. After squeezing past the line of taillights snaking up to Eldora, you’ll discover a trailhead promising winding wooded sections, calming lakeside views, and several short-but-decent climbs that will ignite your legs. If the path is already packed in, you may be able to hike this route in spikes instead of snowshoes; pack both so you’re prepared. As you trek, keep an eye out for wildlife—recent visitors have reported sharing the stillness with moose.

From the trailhead, follow the pine-shrouded trail for two miles to the iced-over lake. The climbing intensifies slightly around a half mile in, though it’s nothing brutal: Total elevation gain from the trailhead to the tarn is about 800 feet. On your journey, encounter two forks in the trail; follow the signs for Lost Lake and you won’t get, well, lost.

You’ll know you’re nearing Lost Lake when the trail gets notably steep, around 1.5 miles in. Once you summit, find a rock to sit on and soak in the views with a thermos of hot chocolate. Or, add mileage to your workout by looping around the frozen water. The trail itself can get busy, but once you’re at the lake, there will be plenty of places to find tranquility. Just be aware: It can get blustery, so consider packing an extra layer to pull on. Reverse your steps to return to the trailhead.

Getting there: From Denver, take I-25 North to U.S. 36 West and exit at Baseline Road. Take CO-119/Boulder Canyon Drive to Nederland. From Nederland, head south on CO 119 for 0.6 mile. Turn west onto County Road 130, signed for Eldora. Follow the paved road through the valley to Eldora, where the pavement ends. Continue beyond the end of the pavement for 0.75 mile to the fork in the road. The left fork goes to Hessie trailhead where Lost Lake Trail begins. Parking is primarily roadside; pay attention to signage.

Before you go: Always check winter conditions, including the local avalanche report and weather. It’s OK (and fun!) to hike in snow, but wind can make your outing miserable. Gusts up to 20 mph are perfectly manageable with the right gear.

Winter Packing List
  • Snowshoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Waterproof boots
  • Waterproof shell
  • Insulating midlayer, like a puffy jacket or fleece
  • Sunglasses or other eye protection
  • Gloves
  • In your backpack: water, food, sunblock, and extra layers. For more intrepid treks, consider packing the Ten Essentials and/or avalanche equipment.