Added by Eric Schuette
Hike to a spectacular alpine lake (en route you will pass two more) where moose and osprey often outnumber the people you will see. There are several backpacking sites along the trail that provide great access to Spirit lake and destinations higher in the valley.
One can reach spirit lake as a day hike, however it is most often visited as part of backpacking trip. Either way the route is the same and it starts at the East Inlet trail. To park you are supposed to pay or show your park/national lands pass. From the East Inlet trailhead you will soon pass Adams Falls, which is a popular detour from the trail or for some the destination. From Adams Falls you will pass in and out of meadows and pine forest until you begin a steep climb out of the valley.
At ~3.5 miles you crest out of the valley and begin a serious of ups and downs through pine forest and next to the creek until you reach Lone Pine lake, the first of several lakes, at mile 5.4. After Lone Pine lake you will begin a series of switchbacks that will eventually level out and open up as you approach Lake Verna. Just before mile 6.9 you will reach Lake Verna, which is the end of the official trail. Between Lone Pine lake and Lake Verna are the most coveted backpacking sites, which are reserved quickly when the permit process opens each year.
Continue around the north side of Lake Verna on an unofficial but partially maintained trail (there were trees cut off the trail by rangers). As you reach the inlet of the lake there will be a spur off to the left that begins to switchback up towards Spirit Lake. After nearly .5 miles the forest will open and you will find yourself at Spirit Lake. The unofficial trail continues higher up the valley, which is covered in another adventure.
Based on its orientation in the valley, Spirit Lake is best visited for sunset but is a beautiful destination anytime of the day. Although it's possible, it is very rarely visited in winter or early spring.
For those who want to visit Spirit Lake as a day hike, standard hiking gear is sufficient. Snacks, water, appropriate clothes/footwear, camera, and first aid kit are all recommended (as well as the park pass to park)
For backpackers, you do have to have a permit from the backcountry office and the sites (especially high up in the valley) do fill quickly. You are also required to have a bear canister and please check with the backcountry office for additional restrictions. For additional gear, make sure to have a tent, sleeping bag/pad, water purification/filter, sufficient food, and if you feel nervous about bears...bear spray (but it very unlikely you will ever need to use it).
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, Fishing, Hiking, Photography
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!
More Adventures Nearby
Hike the Shanahan Ridge Trail
Colorado / Shanahan Ridge Trailhead
Starting on the edge of a neighborhood in South Boulder, this 3.8 mile loop begins its 869 foot elevation gain by meandering through a pine forest.
Hike the Arapaho Traverse
Colorado / Fourth of July Trailhead
Begin at the Fourth of July Trailhead. Day parking is free and overnight parking is $5. Fourth of July is a popular trailhead and to ensure parking, you should arrive early in the morning (6am-ish..