When the flakes begin to fall and the snowshoes are brought out of the closet, head to Lily Pad Lake for a quick out-and-back that has a little something for everyone.
The trailhead, which shares the same parking area as the Buffalo Mountain Trail, is located at the end of Ryan Gulch Road in Silverthorne. Unlike the more challenging hike up nearby Buffalo Mountain, the Lily Pad Lake Trail is a short, mellow cruiser over rolling hills, through tight forests of lodgepole pine, with the occasional open meadow featuring expansive views. It finishes at a frozen-over Lily Pad Lake at 9,925 feet.
The nearly half-mile ascent at the beginning of the trail will get hiker’s hearts thumping right out of the gates. The trail then flattens out and opens up through a clearing with views of Buffalo Mountain to the west and Dillon Reservoir, Keystone Resort and famous fourteeners Grays Peak and Torreys Peak to the east. Hikers enter a thick forest of old-growth lodgepole pine trees, many of which have been killed by the mountain pine beetle. The trail twists and turns, ascends and descends, keeping things interesting along the way. You’ll cross snow-covered streams and small beaver ponds that attracted fur trappers to the area in the early 1800s. Today, moose roam the area so keep an eye out and maintain a safe distance. The hike concludes after a short descent down to a frozen Lily Pad Lake where Peak One looms over the trees in the distance.
Hikers retrace their steps 1.75 miles back to the trailhead, where it’s just a five-minute drive down to the Towns of Silverthorne and Dillon for après-hike food and drink.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.