Hike to Lily Pad Lake

3.2 miles 400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Johnathan Valdez

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. 

Read More

Tags

Fitness
Chillin
Fishing
Photography
Running
Snowshoeing
Backpacking
Hiking
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Lake
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

11 months ago

Frozen lake and stunning views

After being in higher elevation for a week, this hike was still a good challenge. If it wasn't for the higher traffic of hikers compacting down the snow to make a visible trail, it's a bit harder to follow in the snow. The most difficult part is the first ascend and after that, the trails moved up and down, but not as steep as the first hill. After the view of Lake Dillon you'll still get peeps of the surrounding mountains in several clearings and beautiful forest light. I had three group of returning hikers tell me about the moose ahead, so keep an eye for the wildlife! In this time in early November, the lake has frozen over, but the view from the next lake was still incredible with Buffalo Mountain shining! I absolutely loved this hike!

Beautiful but NOT "easy" unless you're acclimated

Gorgeous, quiet & scenic but know that if you're visiting from sea level like we are, this one will challenge you at the outset with a pretty immediate elevation gain. We had smaller kids with us and they had a pretty rough time of it.

about 3 years ago

Mellow and scenic--what more could you want?

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!

Minnesotan

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.

Stay Nearby

Silverthorne, Colorado

Heaton Bay

Overview Heaton Bay Campground is situated at an elevation of 9,000 feet and centrally located for recreation and relaxation in the White River National Forest. There is little or no shade in the...

Breckenridge, Colorado

Peak One

Overview Peak One Campground is located on the Dillon Reservoir near the town of Frisco, offering an abundance of recreational activities. The reservoir is encircled by Swan Mountain and the drama...

Dillon, Colorado

Windy Point Group (Co)

Overview Windy Point is located near Dillon Reservoir at an elevation of 9,000 feet in the White River National Forest. The site consists of a group camp and a group picnic shelter that can accomm...

Dillon, Colorado

Sapphire Point Overlook

Overview Sapphire Point Overlook sits between Keystone and Breckenridge on Swan Mountain Road, at an elevation of 9,500 feet. The overlook offers a stunning view of Dillon Reservoir, hemmed in by t...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to Old Dillon Reservoir

    Today, Lake Dillon is one of the biggest attractions in the Dillon Valley, attracting boaters, anglers, and campers. However, the large reservoir we know today was not the first one in the area.  The Old Dillon Reservoir was built in the 1930s to ...

    1.7 miles 137 ft gain

  • Sunset Shots at Lake Dillon

    To get to the southern end of the lake from Denver, head west on 70 until you reach 9. Take 9 for a few miles until you find the spot on the lake where you want to get started. On the south side of Lake Dillon, there was an abundance of old stumps...

  • Hike to South Willow Falls

    Start at the Willowbrook Trailhead. You’ll hit a “Y” in the trail pretty quickly - go left and you’ll soon be at the first log bridge. There are quite a few water crossings on the trail, but they are easy to maneuver.After hiking in the Willow Cre...

  • Hike Red Buffalo Pass, Frisco to East Vail

    Starting at the Meadow Creek trailhead in Frisco, you'll find yourself ending up in East Vail at Gore Lake Trailhead. See all photos here.  The trail in Meadow Creek starts to climb at a gradual pace for the 3-4 miles, after a mile or so, take a l...

    13.2 miles 3400 ft gain

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 




    Learn More