Elevation Gain
1,207.00 ft (367.89 m)
Trail type
2.10 mi (3.38 km)
Warming hut
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The Boss Lake snowshoe route is located 6 miles below the Monarch Pass summit, right outside of Salida, Colorado. Boss Lake has something to offer snowshoers of all skill levels: it's non-technical but still strenuous and leads to gorgeous views of a high-alpine lake.

Summer access to Boss Lake, when access roads are clear, is much higher up the trail. The winter trailhead is located right behind the snowmobile rental shop across Highway 50 from the Monarch Mountain Lodge, indicated by a brown forest service sign. Head uphill from there, and you will soon come to a four-way intersection. Go straight. The trail winds uphill for a ways and levels out into a gorgeous forest of pine and aspen.

After about a mile and a half, you will come across the Boss Lake trailhead. Go left at the sign. You will come to a clearing that is a parking lot in the summer. Go straight through that, and you will find a sign with a map and camping information. Behind that and to the left, you will pick the trail up again. Cross the bridge, and after 0.1 mile yellow blazes on the opposite side of the trees clearly mark the return trip. These are really useful if there is fresh snow and you're breaking trail; just look back occasionally to ensure you're on the right path.

At around 1.8 miles, there will be a clearing on your right and the blazes face the wrong way. You aren't off trail here; keep the clearing to your right and continue straight, and you will pick the blazes up again. Once you come out of the trees, you will likely see a run-down log structure to your right. Look right from there, and you will see a Forest Service sign post that marks the shores of Boss Lake!

Moose may be in the area, but they usually head toward Salida in the winter, because the snow is too deep for them. The Boss Lake Trail is a few miles below the old, historic mining town of Monarch Colorado, known as the Monarch Park campground nowadays. This trail also intersects with the famous Continental Divide Trail.

This route would make a good overnight trip. While there are no established campsites above the snow, backpacking is allowed on the Boss Lake Trail. This trip is a good option for beginners who are new to snowshoeing but want something challenging. Up Highway 50 from the trailhead is another snowshoe option, the Waterdogs Trail. That trailhead is about 1 mile downhill from the Monarch Ski Area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass



No crowds. Non-technical.


Can be strenuous for beginners.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

9,685.00 ft (2,951.99 m)

Highest point

10,881.00 ft (3,316.53 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping

Typically multi-day


Groomed trail


Snowmobiles allowed



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Grand Mesa Uncompahgre + Gunnison National Forests


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