Hike to Comanche Lake in Pingree Park

8 miles 700 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Corey Smith

4-5 Hour Hike one way. Gorgeous scenery and two very different biomes in close proximity. Comanche Lake is a pristine, clear alpine gem with some good fishing and swimming.

You start out hiking through the average Colorado forest for the first 4 miles of the 7-8 mile trip at about 6,500 feet. The trail is largely downhill for the first couple miles until it levels out and you are headed North. A little more than halfway, you come to Comanche Reservoir and hike up along it's east side. there are a couple nice big rocks at the highest point where you can stop for a snack and a breather and take in the views. Continuing on about a mile will take you into a rockier part of the trail and eventually the split between Beaver Creek(ahead) or the less well marked Comanche Lake Trail(to the left). Here is where it starts to get really interesting. After you cross the little stream a quarter mile from the trail split, it will go pretty much all uphill for the last couple miles. But because of the prevailing easterly wind that comes over the peaks, there is a very prominent rain shadow effect on that side of the mountain. It's drastically different from the dusty, dry soil and rock so common in Colorado. Save for the burning in your lungs at the increased elevation, you would think you were in Northern Montana. The foliage is far more vibrant and the soil is more like freshly spread mulch than the thin rocky ground you have been hiking on. There are lots of quail-like birds in this area that don't seem to mind you being there and will stay pretty close to the trail should you happen by. Once you reach the end of the trail after a steep ascent you are rewarded by a picture perfect alpine lake that tantalizingly invites you in for a swim as a reward for your efforts. There are 6 or 7 established campsites around the lake, and they are rarely ever occupied. Check fire restrictions for that area if you go though, because Northern Colorado is often under a strict fire ban in the summer. Best time to go to beat the crowds and enjoy the scenery is usually September or Late Spring if the snow is gone. 

Note: You don't gain much elevation from the trailhead to the end, but there is a good bit of up and down in the trail that will make you think you are much higher than you are.

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Tags

Chillin
Camping
Fishing
Photography
Swimming
Backpacking
Hiking
Forest
Lake
Swimming Hole

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COLD water

This is a glacier lake. :) I would not swim in it. It is beautiful!

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