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Hike or Backpack to Native Lake

Leadville, Colorado

Details

Distance

7.8 miles

Elevation Gain

2293 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Isabelle Kunz

With wildflowers, waterfalls, wildlife, breathtaking views and an alpine lake, this trail truly has it all. The camp sites along Native Lake allow you to turn this hike into a backpacking trip so can take your time enjoying this amazing area.

This hidden gem of a hike starts near Leadville, Colorado in the Mt. Massive Wilderness at the some-what poorly marked Native Lake Trailhead parking lot (google maps has this location so it isn't too much trouble to find using GPS). The road to the trail is closed seasonally so it is only recommended for hiking from June-September. 

The trail starts off with a series of gentle switchbacks through a thick forest of conifers. The trail opens up as you gain elevation and as the trees begin to thin, the wildflowers become quite numerous along the way. The path crosses over a drainage multiple times that creates a lovely waterfall in some places with great views both up and down. The trail is very well maintained and the drainage flows under the pathway so crossing it poses no issues for hikers. 

As you reach the top of the switchbacks and push past the exhaustion of climbing a few thousand feet you are quickly rewarded by breathtaking views of a sprawling tundra plateau. From here you have panoramic views of the Continental Divide, Mt. Massive and Leadville below. Some people turn back at head down at this point (about 2.2 miles each way), however, if you continue on to the 3.9-mile mark, you will reach the beautiful Native Lake. To reach the lake, you will follow the trail across the wildflower covered tundra and begin a descent into the valley below Mt. Massive. The switchbacks on this side of the ridge are a bit steeper but offer gorgeous views along the way. At the bottom of the descent you will reach a fork which offers a trails around the lake in either direction. The trails can be a bit marshy here so waterproof shoes and bug spray are recommended. You can continue from here to other trails leading up the Mt. Massive, turn around and make it a day hike, or pitch a tent and enjoy an evening by the lake.

Just off of either of the trails are multiple primitive campsites with fire rings already in place. Camping here is incredible in the summertime and even on a weekend is quite peaceful as the sites are very spread out. 

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Features

Fitness
Chillin
Camping
Fishing
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Romantic
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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