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Interlaken Trail

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado

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Interlaken Trail

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  • Most of the trail skirts the lake and offers great views- Interlaken Trail
  • Wild rose (Rosa woodsii) and aspen.- Interlaken Trail
  • Mount Elbert (14,439'). Colorado's highest peak.- Interlaken Trail
  • The last part of the trail was very wet in early July of 2015.- Interlaken Trail
  • The Dexter Cabin was built in 1895 when it housed the resort owner's family.- Interlaken Trail
  • View from the Dexter Cabin.- Interlaken Trail
  • The Interlaken Lodge building was moved to save it from rising water in 1979.- Interlaken Trail
  • Interlaken Historic District building.- Interlaken Trail
  • Trailhead to Interlaken.- Interlaken Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Nearly level. Beautiful lakeside trail. Interesting historical site.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, CO
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
100.00 ft (30.48 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
4.80 mi (7.72 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,155.00 ft (2,790.44 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

How many hikes combine beautiful scenery, a unique historical multi-building site, and a mostly-level hike that is still long enough to occupy 3 or 4 hours?  Interlaken Trail has all of that, and as a bonus it is not particularly crowded.  

A resort was established at this spot in the 1870s, but it really came into its peak under the ownership of James Dexter, who developed Interlaken into a luxury retreat for the wealthy in the 1880s. As progress brought more people and farms to the area, the Twin Lakes were enlarged with a new dam, and the only road leading to Interlaken was submerged. The resort closed and the buildings fell into disrepair. In the 1970s the dam was being raised again and the Interlaken site was facing inundation. In 1974 the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1979 the Bureau of Reclamation had the main buildings moved 150 feet and stabilized. The buildings, especially the Dexter cabin, are remarkably well-preserved given their history, but thousands of hours of volunteer time and many commercial sponsors have contributed greatly to their current condition.

The trail to Interlaken begins at a trailhead not far from the Twin Lakes dam. It is actually a short section of the 150-mile Colorado Trail that stretches from Durango to Denver. Following the shore of the larger Twin Lake, the trail is very level for most of the route. The entire time there are great views of the lake, the aspen and spruce forests, and the looming presence of some of the tallest mountains in the state. Wildflowers are abundant. The historic site is very fun to explore, especially the Dexter cabin, which is open for exploration. From the lower level with its rare wood trim to the third level cupola with views all around, it is evocative and authentic. There are a number of informative displays and descriptions that make it a mini-museum in open air.  

This is a very satisfying and interesting hike that can be nicely combined with a lunch in nearby Leadville and an exploration of the amazing Mineral Belt bike trail.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(38 within a 30 mile radius)

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