Get Out There
Colorado has been home for well over twenty years now. In that time, I have come to know and love so many special places in our very own Rockies. From the high peaks to the expansive valleys with roaring rivers, my heart and soul lights up at the very sight of it.
I consider myself to be a 'chill' avid hiker. You won't find me waking up at 3am every Saturday to hike a 14er (nothing wrong with that, I just looooove my sleep), however, you will find me convincing anyone to go and "check out this cool spot I found".
Luckily for you, I get to tell you about some of my favorite low-key hiking places all with Alpine lakes, and what to bring/expect during your time there. While these trails are still pretty popular on the weekends, they are not top tourist spots that everyone and their mother are trying to do..
Starting it off, we bring ourselves to Breckenridge, Colorado. This little ski town has my heart during all of the seasons. Make sure to visit the iconic Crepe Cart as a treat after this hike! Just outside of town up Spruce Creek Road, you will find yourself at the trailhead for Spruce Creek Trail for Mohawk Lakes. I have enjoyed this trail for many years. It is so beautiful through and through with a forest of pines, lakes, a waterfall, old mining equipment, and wildlife. It is a 6 mile round trip, moderate hike, so I recommend bringing plenty of water, a good snack, and a rain coat to enjoy it fully.
Next up, is the Abyss Lake Trail located off of Guanella Pass road from Clear Creek county in Bailey, Colorado (not Georgetown!). This trail becomes pretty difficult once you're about 2.5 miles in, as you're gaining elevation between the peaks of Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans. Although it is hard, the views are sooo worth it. You hike through rolling rivers, forests of aspens and pine, and then up to a beautiful alpine lake: Abyss Lake. In order to be prepared for this hike you will need a really good pair of hiking boots, a solid meal (or lots of snacks), lots and lots of water, and a positive mindset that you will be hiking for a good portion of the day. This trail is almost 17 miles round trip and you gain over 3,300 ft in elevation. It's no joke!! This trail is also great for backpacking, as you will find some backcountry spots well into the trail (don't forget your permits!).
I will say, the Abyss Lake hike is one of the reasons I enjoy hiking so much. It really re-opened my eyes to how stunningly beautiful nature can be. As you hike in further and further, You feel that separation into serenity from all the hustle and bustle we get ourselves into in our daily lives.
Lastly, in the southern part of Colorado just outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park is Zapata Falls and the Zapata Lake trail. If you want a super short jaunt to something wonderful, Zapata Falls is under a mile from the trailhead leading to a really neat waterfall that has carved itself into the mountain. Zapata Lake, however, is another moderately difficult full-day hike that is gorgeous and rewarding! You will quickly find yourself immersed in wonderful views of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range, as well as multiple different types of terrain such as river crossings, mountain quarries, and even snow! (summer months). This trail also offers backcountry camping, a plus!
You will want to bring good hiking boots with good ankle support, a solid meal (more snacks), lots of water, sunscreen, and protection from wildlife such as bear spray. This trail is way less crowded than the others mentioned before, so the presence of wildlife is far more pronounced. When I did this hike, we left a little later in the morning than we should have. We found ourselves in long stretches of unshaded trail in the middle of a summer day- HOT! Luckily, some cloud cover came over and made the hike more bearable than it would have been otherwise. The photo below is when we were well on our way back to the car. The sun began to set and while we captured a magnificent sunset, we were soon about to be caught in the dark with only our iphone lights to guide us. Word of the - now - wise, allow yourself ample time to get a hike done. If you will be hiking at dawn or dusk, bring the proper gear (headlamp, protection, and layers).
Colorado has grown more popular in recent years, but there is still plenty of nature to explore! This is your sign to get out there and find the next special place that will breathe fresh life into your soul. Enjoy!