Backpack to Kelly Lake In State Forest SP

Rate this Adventure Colorado Kelly Lake Trailhead

Added by Will McKay

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



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

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



13.2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2624 Feet


Dog Friendly

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Added by Will McKay

Environmentalist and Photographer. Follow my endeavors @wills_stills

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