King Lake Trail (#901)


Length: From Hessie Trailhead (TH) to King Lake - 5.2 miles; to Betty Lake - 5.5 miles; to Bob Lake - 6 miles; to High Lonesome Trail - 5.7 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE WAY.

Elevation: 9,000 feet at Hessie TH; 11,431 feet at King Lake; 11,450 feet at Betty Lake; 11,600 feet at Bob Lake; 11,650 feet at the High Lonesome Trail.

Trail Summary: From the trailhead, the Devils Thumb Trail climbs steeply for about a half-mile on an old road. Cross the bridge and stay on the main Devil’s Thumb Trail; do not take the Bypass Trail. Pass the turnoff for Lost Lake and follow the King Lake Trail. It soon enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness and steadily gains 1,200' in elevation over the next four miles. Towards the upper end, the Twin Trestles of the Moffat Road are visible clinging to the slope. About a mile before reaching King Lake, the trail makes several switchbacks.

The King Lake Trail passes King Lake, and climbs a ridge for half a mile to the Continental Divide. There it meets the High Lonesome Trail. A loop from Hessie to King Lake to High Lonesome Trail to Devils Thumb Lake and back to Hessie, makes a great fifteen-mile overnight backpacking trip (permits required).

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View a trail map here.

At a Glance

Permit Info: This trail lies within the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area:
  • Camping permits required for all overnight trips between June 1 and September 15. Overnight permits cost $5 per group, per trip from June 1 through September 15.
  • Organized groups are required to have a permit for both camping and day-hiking year round. Day-hiking permits are free.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Hiking conditions are best from July through September.
Restrictions: Indian 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.
  • Practive Leave No Trace principles.
Fishing and hunting: permitted in accordance with regulations established by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Closest Towns: Nederland, Colorado
Water: Lakes and streams; treat water for drinking.
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles
Operated By: U.S. Forest Service
Information Center: Boulder Ranger District; 303-541-2500; Contact Us

General Information


From Nederland, head south on Colorado Highway 119 for 0.6 miles. Turn west onto County Road 130, signed for Eldora. Follow the paved road through the valley to the Town of Eldora, where the pavement ends. Continue beyond the end of the pavement for 0.75 miles to the fork in the road. The left fork goes to Hessie Trailhead.


Accessible for winter use from the town of Eldora.



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