• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    13.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2624 Feet

Dog Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Who doesn't love mountain lakes? Well one of the most scenic and unvisited is Kelly Lake in State Forest State Park, Colorado. 

Round trip will take you along 13.2 beautiful miles of Northern Colorado backcountry. Starting from the trail head which can be found within the entrance of the park (near the horse ring and car camping), you'll head into some beautiful backcountry. Before you reach the woods, a 4x4 trail will be your main path for about 4 miles. Once finishing the 4x4 path, you'll hike through a smaller forest that eventually opens up into one of the biggest aspen groves I've personally ever seen. 

If you continue up the trail, while taking the occasional breather of course, you'll end up in some seriously pretty scenery. 

Now I don't want to spoil it for you but just imagine a lake surrounded by mountains and forests... or simply look at the photos above.

Now this is a pretty long hike that WILL WORK YOUR LEGS. So, you've been warned! You might just want to camp there for the night since it's damn beautiful.

Regarding campsites, they can be found scattered along the shoreline of the lake but please, camp at least 200 ft from the nearest water source and try your hardest to practice Leave No Trace Ethics. You'll want to preserve this beautiful place for generations to come. Also, you'll need a fly and lure permit for fishing.

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Tent (if you're camping)
  • Sleeping bag (If you're camping)
  • Sleeping pad/improvised floaty
  • Hiking shoe
  • Camera
  • Trekking Poles
  • Headlamp
  • Light food
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Community Photos

+ Add Photos

Reviews

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Leave a Review

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Will McKay Storyteller

Environmentalist and Photographer. @wills_stills

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

3 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

3 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

4 Saves