Nolan Lake

White River National Forest

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado

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Nolan Lake


  • Trailhead for Nolan Lake.- Nolan Lake
  • Mixed spruce and aspen forest.- Nolan Lake
  • Craig Peak.- Nolan Lake
  • Entering the Holy Cross Wilderness.- Nolan Lake
  • Waterfall on Nolan Creek.- Nolan Lake
  • There are many cascades on the trail.- Nolan Lake
  • Hiking through the high meadows above the lake.- Nolan Lake
  • Nolan Lake.- Nolan Lake
  • Nolan Lake.- Nolan Lake
  • Looking down from the outlet of the lake.- Nolan Lake
  • Nolan Lake is reputed to have a native brook trout population.- Nolan Lake
  • Beautiful peaks above Nolan Lake.- Nolan Lake
  • Nolan Lake.- Nolan Lake
  • Wetlands near Nolan Lake.- Nolan Lake
Overview + Weather
Beautiful pristine lake. Moderate grade. Uncrowded.
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, CO
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,349.00 ft (411.18 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
6.40 mi (10.30 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,977.00 ft (3,040.99 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

The hike to Nolan Lake is a moderate hike which should be a top destination when camping at Sylvan Lake State Park or one of the national forest campgrounds at Yoeman Park or Fulford Cave. The highlights of the trail are fabulous views of the western peaks of the Holy Cross Wilderness and the pristine high mountain lake at the end of the trail.

The trailhead is on NF-418 near the old mining camp of Fulford. After an initial short steep climb, the trail settles into a pretty gentle grade for the first few miles. There are a few old log structures just a quarter mile from the trailhead, part of the old “Upper Town” of Fulford. The trail follows Nolan Creek for most of the route, and there are several nice cascades and waterfalls visible from short spurs off of the trail. The trail enters Holy Cross Wilderness at about 1.5 miles. The last mile is steep in segments, and the trail actually goes past and above the lake (to avoid the steep rocky gully below the lake outlet) and crosses a long wet meadow before dropping down 100 feet to the lake shore.

Nolan Lake is crystal clear and set at the base of steep cliffs, but it is easy to circumnavigate the lake on social paths. It is unlikely to be crowded here, and the scenic beauty and solitude make the long climb very worthwhile.

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Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(12 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(30 within a 30 mile radius)

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