Forest Lakes (#809)

Photo of Forest Lakes taken from the peaks above on the Continental Divide Trail

Length: East Portal Trailhead (TH) to: Forest Lakes Trail - 1.2; Forest Lakes - 4 miles. Forest Lakes TH to: Forest Lakes - 0.25 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE-WAY.

Elevation: 9,211 feet at East Portal TH; 10,650 feet and 10,800 at Forest Lakes; 11,020 feet at Forest Lakes TH.

Trail Description: From the East Portal Trailhead, follow the South Boulder Creek Trail around the north side of the train tunnel. The trail soon enters James Peak Wilderness Area.

It is 1.2 miles on the South Boulder Creek Trail to the signed Forest Lakes Trail junction. Turn right as indicated.

The Forest Lakes Trail cuts across the front of a steep ridge on an old road for a half-mile until it intersects Arapaho Creek. It follows the creek for about another mile before it turns away from the creek to the northeast following a gentle grade to the lower of the two lakes. The trail leads around the lower lake and continues west to the upper Forest Lake, finally connecting to the Moffat Road another quarter-mile past upper Forest Lake.

To view a trail map click here.

At a Glance

Permit Info: No permits are required at this time.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Hiking conditions are best from July through October
Restrictions: James Peak Wilderness restrictions apply:
  • Motorized equipment and mechanized transportation are prohibited.
  • Pets must be on a hand-held leash at all times.
  • Campfires are prohibited year round.
  • Campsites must be at least 100 feet away from water and trail.
  • Group size is limited to 12 (people and livestock combined).
  • Processed weed-free feed is required for stock.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles
Fishing and hunting: permitted in accordance with regulations established by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Rollinsville, Colorado
Water: South Boulder Creek, Arapaho Creek; treat water for drinking
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service

General Information


From Nederland, travel south for 4.5 miles on Colorado Highway 119 to Rollinsville. Turn west onto the gravel Gilpin County Road 16 and continue eight miles to the Moffat Tunnel. A large parking area is available at the East Portal Trailhead.


If you have a high-clearance vehicle, a second trailhead located above Forest Lakes is accessible during the summer months. From CR 16, take a sharp right at mile seven onto the Moffat Road (a.k.a. Rollins Pass Road). An additional 11 miles on a rocky native surface road will lead to the Forest Lakes TH.


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