June 20, 2018 Slideshows » Columns

3 Lakes on Independence Pass 

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Located near the top of Independence Pass in the Hunter/Fryingpan Wilderness in the White River National Forest there is a trio of alpine lakes that can be visited on a single, moderate hike. Linkins, Independence and Lost Man lakes, all located above tree-line, are beautiful, pristine lakes, and should be done during the relatively short period of time that the pass is open each year.

If you bring two cars, you can park one at each trailhead and do this hike as a sort of open loop, or follow the trail out and back for a round trip distance of about 5.25 miles. If you do the side trip to Linkins Lake, add about 1.5 miles to the total hike.

Because this hike is in a designated wilderness area, only hiking and horseback riding is allowed. No bikes or motorized vehicles are allowed and dogs must be leashed.

To get there: Take US 24 west from Colorado Springs to where it meets US 285. Turn left on US 285/24 to the traffic light just past the Arkansas River south of Buena Vista. Turn north on US 24 and follow it until Colorado 82, Independence Pass Road, and follow it to the summit of the pass. The trailhead is on the west side of the summit. Travel time is about 3 hours each way.  If you want to do this as a loop, park a second car about 4 miles further down the road at a pull out opposite Lost Man Campground. Locals tell me you can do this trail either clockwise or counterclockwise, with similar levels of difficulties.
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Bob Falcone
The trailhead sign. There is no other sign by the road to indicate this is the trail.
Bob Falcone
Less than .2 miles, after a small creek crossing the Linkins Lake trail goes left, and the Lost Man Trail #1996 starts to the right.
Bob Falcone
The designated wilderness area marker is just past the trail maker.
Bob Falcone
At about .5 miles from the parking lot, the Lost Man Trail crosses the Roaring Fork river. Keep water levels in mind if doing this hike in the spring. There is no other easy or viable place to cross if the runoff is high.
Bob Falcone
A creek along the Lost Man trail, with beautiful wildflowers.
Bob Falcone
At about 2.25 miles from the parking area, the trail gets to Independence Lake, with its distinctive teardrop shape. The snow and ice on the lake would likely be gone by late June or early July making the going much easier.
Bob Falcone
From Lost Man Pass, the trail drops down steeply to Lost Man Lake, where the trail goes to the right of the lake and then continues down to Highway 82, about 4 miles downhill from where we started. If you bring two cars, you can park one at each trailhead and do this hike as a sort of open loop.
Bob Falcone
A view down the Lost Man Trail.
Bob Falcone
Another view down the Lost Man Trail.
Bob Falcone
Linkins Lake and wild globe flowers.
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Bob Falcone
The trailhead sign. There is no other sign by the road to indicate this is the trail.

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