Blue Lake Trail

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Blue Lake Trail (#959)

The first two miles of the trail follows an old wagon trail crossing footbridges over Joe Wright Creek and Fall Creek before entering the Rawah Wilderness. The trail continues to climb toward Blue Lake and Hang Lake. Blue Lake, which is five miles from the trailhead, is a very popular destination or turn-around point. Both lakes are surrounded and protected by a ¼-mile camping closure zone. A short 2.4 mile climb to the north past Blue Lake and a descent to a junction with West Branch trail (#960) allow easy access to Island and Carey Lakes, the Rawah trail (#961), Twin Crater Lakes, and Grassy Pass. Backpackers often arrange shuttles, entering by the Blue Lake trail and leaving via the West Branch or Rawah trails. The Blue Lake trailhead accommodates approximately approximately 14 vehicles.

Usage: Heavy
Restrictions: General Wilderness Regulations: Dogs must be on a hand held leash. No motorized or mechanized equipment. Camps, campfires, and stock, where allowed, at least 200 feet from water and trails. Group size limited to 12 people or stock animals combined. Closure Regulations: ¼ mile closure zone around Blue and Hang Lakes. Alpine area closure, stoves only above 10,800 feet elevation (tree line). Stock and pack animals are prohibited between May 15th and September 15th. Between September 16th and May 14th overnight stock use is prohibited.
Closest Towns: Rustic, Fort Collins
Water: Water can be filtered and treated from nearby water sources.
Restroom: Practice Leave No Trace principles.

Directions: Travel 11 miles northwest of Fort Collins on U.S. Highway 287 to Colorado Highway 14. Turn left on CO 14, and travel 54 miles west to the Blue Lake trailhead parking lot on the right, located across the highway from Forest Road 156, Long Draw Road.

Day Hiking and Backpacking

Hike for about 5 miles to enjoy the popular Blue Lake, near timberline. On a clear day, you will be able to see the Mummy Range in the distance, and maybe cooled by afternoon shadows created by the nearby Medicine Bow Mountains. The trail proceeds beyond Blue Lake to above timberline. Be sure to watch for mountain thunderstorms! The Blue Lake trailhead accommodates approximately 14 vehicles.

Fire Information Check for any seasonal fire restrictions before your hike. Portions of this trail prohibit campfires including ¼-mile around Blue and Hang Lakes and above 10,800 feet. Where allowed campfires must be at least 200 feet from water and trails. You may collect dead and down wood; do not break branches from standing trees for firewood. Please attend to campfires at all times. Touch any remaining coals with the bare hand to insure campfire is cold and dead out. Remember, if it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave!
Difficulty Level: Moderate

XC Skiing/Snowshoeing

This popular trail offers a long but pleasant ski or snowshoe trip to a high mountain lake. Park at the Blue Lake Trailhead along Colorado Highway 14. The trail leaves immediately from the west corner of the parking lot by the large informational display. The trail inside the wilderness can be difficult to find occasionally because it is not permanently marked beyond the wilderness boundary (reached at about the 2.5 mile mark). Follow the Blue Lake drainage to the lake from where it crosses the trail to avoid avalanche hazards along the summer route. Beware of avalanche danger above Blue Lake.

Difficulty Level: Moderate


  • Trail Measurement: 7.4 Miles
  • Compass Latitude: 400510N
  • Compass Longitude: 1053532W
  • Numeric Latitude: 40.0860972
  • Numeric Longitude: -105.5922237
  • Elevation in Meters: 2,901 to 3,358
  • Elevation in Feet: 9,520 to 11,020

If you have information about this trail please fill out the Add/Edit Trail form.


  • Trail Location
  • Trail Measurement
    7.4 Miles
  • Compass Latitude
  • Compass Longitude
  • Numeric Latitude
  • Numeric Longitude
  • Elevation in Feet
    9,520 to 11,020
  • Elevation in Meters
    2,901 to 3,358
  • Trail Images
  • Trail Maps
    • Trail GPS Files
      • Trail Weather

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