Hike to Lily Pad Lake

Colorado Lily Pad Lake Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Running, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    3.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    400 Feet

Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Lake
Wildflowers
Wildlife

A fairly flat and easy trail that will take you into the Eagle's Nest Wildernest just a short drive from Silverthorne, CO. This lake is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic on the trail. 

Lily Pad Lake is a well known destination just outside of Silverthorne and in the Eagle's Nest Wilderness. The trail may be heavily trafficked on the weekends, but solitude can still be found in the early mornings or during the weekdays.

The trail starts at the Lily Pad Lake Trailhead, just to the south of the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead. Be advised that these two trails start at different trailheads just mere yards apart. The trail starts on a service road with an immediate uphill climb. Thankfully the service road (and the incline) are short lived, as you will soon reach an open clearing with spectacular views of Silverthorne and Lake Dillon. Enjoy the view while you have it, because soon you will be entering a thick, old growth forest. Also, it should be noted that for the most part, the incline is already out of the way. The trail is pretty level from here on out.

Not far after entering the forest you will come to the Eagle's Nest Wilderness boundary. From here on, no mountain bikes are allowed. If you are hiking with your dog, please be courteous and bag your pet's poop as well as pack it out with you. 

After passing the boundary sign, you will soon reach a large beaver pond on the right. Keep your eyes peeled as you just may catch a glimpse of moose, deer, or elk. Continue on the trail to reach a long log bridge crossing over the marshy outlet of the pond. 

The trail will meander through the forest, sometimes passing through thick undergrowth, tall lodgepole stands, an occasional creek crossing, and few open clearings. 

At about a mile from the trailhead you will reach the junction with the Salt Lick Trail. Bear to the right to continue on your way to Lily Pad Lake. The trail here levels out at it's highest point and will travel along a smooth path. It's only half a mile more before you reach Lily Pad Lake.

The trail will descend slightly before dropping out at the shore of the first lake. Here is where the biggest and most abundant lily pads reside. If you hike this trail in mid to late June, the lilies will be in fully bloom. The vibrant yellow blooms make a great setting to relax and enjoy a snack. 

The trail will continue onwards between the two lakes and will eventually lead you to a small "beach" on the shore of the second, and much larger lake.  Here the water is much more open, plus you will have a great view of Buffalo Mountain to the west.

Fishing is permitted in the second lake with a valid Colorado fishing license. There are many social trails that circumnavigate the lake and lead to many openings that are suitable for casting a line. Backpacking is also permitted on this trail; however, no campfires are allowed within a quarter mile of either lake, so plan accordingly. Please practice Leave No Trace ethics when camping in the backcountry.

If you wish to lengthen your adventure, the Lily Pad Trail will continue south towards the Meadow Creek Trail junction. This will add an additional one-way length of 2.6 miles. 

Pack List

  • Good shoes
  • Bug spray or clothing to cover up
  • Snack
  • Water
  • Hammock
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Reviews

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The description is pretty spot on. The incline at the start is the most that you'll see throughout the hike, making it a great option for visitors to Summit County and higher elevation. The trail is well kept and peaks in and out of forests and through meadows until finally reaching your destination. The lake wasn't covered with lily pads as I would've expected--in fact it was almost entirely bare except for a small grouping close to shore--but the water was calm and managed a beautiful reflection of the surrounding peaks and blue sky. Great hike for all ages of people and pups!

24 days ago
24 days ago

Perfect. Great hike. Did it with my girlfriend the day after Thanksgiving when it was about 45 degrees and sunny. Great walk through the woods and exactly as described. I would recommend going past Lilly Pad lake once you've had a change to apres hike and walk a little further. There's a sweet overlook of the Dillon reservoir and a babbling brook that's neat.

10 months ago
10 months ago

Johnathan ValdezExplorer

I'm a Colorado native that's passionate about photography, exploring nature, live music, and craft beer. On my free days you'll most likely find me on the trail and behind my camera. Life is short, get out there and explore! Follow my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram @capulinflicker.

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