6 Stunning Alpine Lakes to Hike This Summer in Colorado |  Lifestyle

6 Stunning Alpine Lakes to Hike This Summer in Colorado | Lifestyle

For the rugged Colorado explorer, the thin air at 14,000 feet could be the ultimate reward after a hard hike. Or it could be the refreshing, picturesque shore of an alpine lake.

The waters look like jewels on a map, sapphires hidden high in the mountains. And, indeed, you will have to earn these treasures. These are some of the ones we are looking for this summer.

blue lakes

Kristi Price of Colorado Springs enjoys the view of Lower Blue Lake from a hammock while backpacking toward the lake near Ridgeway, Colorado, in July 2019. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE

Nearest city: Ridgway

Round trip: ~8.5 miles, ~2,500 feet of elevation gain

The chain of lakes that lives up to its name (well, turquoise might be more accurate) has become popular enough for land managers to consider crowd control. Permits have been posted for day hikers and overnight backpackers; the requirement could begin in 2025. It’s a wonderful hike through the Mount Sneffels Wilderness, culminating in Lake Superior at over 11,700 feet.

Lake Haiyaha

Hikers explore Lake Haiyaha on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) Christian Murdock/The Gazette

Nearest town: Estes Park

Round trip: ~4.2 miles, ~750 feet of elevation gain

Often overlooked by other destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park, the lake has gained more attention in recent years after a rockslide dumped “glacial flour” into the water. That is the sediment to which a dramatic color change is attributed, a milky green. You’ll need a reservation to start from the national park’s busy Bear Lake Trail. The good news: the hike shouldn’t take long.

island lake

A hiker reaches Island Lake while snow still surrounds it at an elevation of more than 12,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains on Monday, July 10, 2023. The hike from the South Mineral Creek trailhead outside Silverton is about 9 miles round trip via Ice Lake. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) Christian Murdock/The Gazette

Nearest City: Silverton

Round trip: ~7.7 miles, ~2,700 feet of elevation gain

This is another arduous bucket-list hike that features a series of lakes located high in the San Juan Mountains. Island Lake is the last one popularly reached from the Ice Lakes trailhead by South Mineral Campground. After a steep climb, the top of Ice Lake is magnificent enough to make many stop. Many more continue less than a mile to the lake with a rock island in the center.

Lakes of the clouds

Nearest town: Westcliffe

Round trip: ~10.5 miles, ~2,600 feet of elevation gain

Lakes are just some of the treasures of the treasure-filled Sangre de Cristo Mountains. All three are nestled among pine and aspen trees, each about a half mile from the others. It is the trout that the fishermen look for and camp for one or two nights. It is the serenity that awaits all those willing to endure the tough, rocky trail that begins on a rugged road that requires a high-clearance vehicle.

lost lake

Nearest city: Netherlands

Round trip: ~4.5 miles, ~800 feet of elevation gain

Lost Lake is found very, very often. This is because it is fairly easy to get to from the very accessible Hessie trailhead. If you know your parking situation, accessible is a relative term. Fortunately, hikers can take a shuttle from Nederland High School. The rest of the way to the beautiful lake is uneventful, a classic Indian Peaks Wilderness setting.

Mohawk Lake

Hikers rest on the shores of Mohawk Lake outside Breckenridge. Seth Boster/The Gazette

Nearest City: Breckenridge

Round trip: ~6.2 miles, ~1,500 feet of elevation gain

Let’s talk about making the most of money. You’ve got it all: stream-fed forests, wildflower-dotted meadows, fourteen-year-old views, and even glimpses of mining history in the form of ruins. All within a span of about 3 miles from the Spruce Creek trailhead. You reach Colorado 9, near the base of Quandary Peak. The lake is a great attraction, but on its shores there is plenty of room for solitude.