Lake Hope

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

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Lake Hope


  • Sunset at Lake Trout.- Lake Hope
  • Turn to Lake Hope Road.- Lake Hope
  • Lake Trout Trailhead.- Lake Hope
  • Lake Trout Trailhead.- Lake Hope
  • One of several stream crossings along the way to Lake Hope.- Lake Hope
  • View of the valley and Lizard Head from the trail.- Lake Hope
  • Ice on the trail in early October.- Lake Hope
  • View of Trout Lake from trail.- Lake Hope
  • Ice on the trail in early October.- Lake Hope
  • Ice on the streams along the trail in early October.- Lake Hope
  • Final climb toward the lake.- Lake Hope
  • It is a beautiful hike –though it can be muddy in spots.- Lake Hope
  • Vermillion Mountain from the lake.- Lake Hope
  • Hope Lake!- Lake Hope
  • Beautiful Hope Lake and San Miguel Peak in the background.- Lake Hope
  • Aerial view of the lake and Vermillion Mountain.- Lake Hope
  • Aerial view of the lake shore.- Lake Hope
  • Aerial view of the lake and Vermillion Mountain.- Lake Hope
  • Aerial view of the lake and San Miguel Peak.- Lake Hope
  • Hiking around the lake.- Lake Hope
  • Muddy hike back.- Lake Hope
  • - Lake Hope
Overview + Weather
Beautiful alpine lake with a moderately comfortable hike.
Hard to get to the trailhead without a high-clearance vehicle.
San Juan Mountains, CO
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,200.00 ft (365.76 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
10,739.00 ft (3,273.25 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

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Lake Hope is a beautiful alpine lake that can be reached after a relatively comfortable hike. The trail winds through a sub-alpine forest, goes over streams, and climbs above the tree line, offering wonderful views of Trout Lake, Lizard Head, and Vermillion Mountain along the way.

The easiest way to get there is to drive 4.5 miles from Lake Trout to the trailhead, and a high-clearance vehicle is highly recommended. The alternative is to walk or mountain bike that road to the trailhead. From that point the hike is 5 miles round trip with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. The first mile is very pleasant, going through a subalpine forest with little net elevation gain. After that the trail is steeper and rockier, but it is still pleasant. 

As you go up, look to your left toward Vermillion Mountain and inspiring views. If you turn back toward the trailhead, especially right above the tree line, you will see Trout Lake in the distance.  At last the beautiful blue lake appears at the base of the 13,752-foot San Miguel Peak.

Fall colors are best in mid to late September.  Depending on the year, the first week of October may also be good, though at that time you need to be ready for rapidly changing weather, including winter conditions. Even when the weather is pleasant, ice in the various streams is evidence of the cold nights at those elevations. Further, precipitation often causes the trail to be muddy in spots.  Summer months are best for alpine wildflowers.

Fauna in the lower elevations may include birds such as red-tailed hawks as well as deer, elk and foxes. In the higher elevations it is possible to observe Steller’s jays as well as pikas and marmots.

After the hike, Lake Trout can be a great location to see the sunset, especially in fall with the hills northeast of the lake carpeted with golden aspen.

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(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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(36 within a 30 mile radius)

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