Hike to King Lake

Colorado Hessie Trailhead

Added by Eric Schuette

The hike to King Lake offers plenty of wildflowers (even into September) are amazing along with lots of other great mountain scenery. You can access Betty and Bob lakes (also beautiful alpine lakes) via a .5 mile spur from the king lake trail. There are also great sunrise and night shooting opportunities.

The normal route from the east side is via the Hessie trailhead outside Nederland Colorado. From the west it is most often accessed via the short trail from Rollins pass, which is open in the summer. As noted above, it is also a lake and area ripe for creating your own adventure. The description will be based on the normal route but feel free to use your imagination and combine off-trail adventures and routes. (From King's lake you can hike up to the divide and walk north along the high lonesome trail and continue along the continental divide to devils thumb pass and back around to complete a wonderful alpine loop, roundtrip distance is ~15 miles with 3,500 ft of elevation gain).

The trail begins at the Hessie trailhead following the signs for King's lake. there is a trail to the right of the road to the Hessie Trailhead that will take you along wooden planks and around the water. The trail goes back to a road and you will pass a sign for the Hessie Townsite being 9,000 feet in elevation. Cross a bridge over the Middle Boulder Creek and then you will arrive at the trailhead, follow the signs for King's Lake. The trail is easy to follow the entire 5.5 miles to the lake.

After about mile 4 the trail opens up a bit more with forest and meadows interspersed. Snow can linger but after the snow melts the flowers can be amazing! This is also the section of trail that can be steep in places. After mile 5 there will be a spur trail that leads to Betty and Bob lakes. These are .5 miles away and also very pretty alpine lakes.

Continue along the trail (or if still snow covered follow the tracks or just continue up the valley) for the remaining .5 miles to the lake. This area can also hold snow late but this results in wet meadows and tundra carpeted with flowers. In some wet areas the flowers can linger into September, which is rare at this altitude. The east and south shores of King's lake are open for exploration and there are many wonderful areas to enjoy the view or grab a snack.

This is where you have a big choice to make: descend the way you came, include the Betty and Bob lake spur, travel up towards Rollins pass and catch the high lonesome trail north for a loop, get off the trail and come up with your own adventure!!

Pack List

For day hikes:
  • A good map
  • Compass
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Extra layers
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Sun glasses
For camping:
  • The area is wilderness and additional rules/permits will be required
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Tent
  • Cooking supplies
  • Warm clothes
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



11 Miles

Elev. Gain:

2500 Feet



Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

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How to Get There

10 months ago

This a prime spot for sunrise and wildflowers near the Front Range.

10 months ago

almost 2 years ago

Make sure you have the right gear to get up there – we hiked it in June last year and there was still 4+ feet of snow at the top! Absolutely gorgeous, well worth the trip!

almost 2 years ago

Added by Eric Schuette

I love adventure and exploring. Currently spending time hiking, climbing, fishing, and celebrating with a good beer in Colorado. On Instagram @ericschuettephotography Cheers!!!

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