Big things sometimes come in small packages, and the short, 1.2-mile round-trip hike to Linkins Lake near Independence Pass is no exception.
The trail begins at a parking area on Highway 82 that is located on the first switchback on the west side of Independence Pass about 18 miles from Aspen. It ascends 500 feet into the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness and diverges west into a glacial cirque before concluding at the shore of the high alpine lake that sits at 12,008 feet. The crystal-clear waters above tree line feature wildflowers and panoramic views of the Continental Divide to the east.
The out-and-back hike can be completed in an hour, which makes it an ideal short detour for those seeking quintessential Colorado mountain views while driving over Independence Pass.
The lake’s accessibility make it a popular hike, and getting there is worth breaking a sweat. As with any alpine adventure in the Rockies, it is recommended to hike earlier in the day to avoid encounters with afternoon thunderstorms.
Independence Pass is closed roughly from October through May.