Create an account

Start your adventure today.


    Already a member? Login

    King Lake Hike

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    19.6 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    775 m
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Be the first to add a review!
    Directions to Trailhead

    King Lake Hike is a stunning day hike up the boundary of the continental divide. Challenging, but not exhausting, this is a great excursion for novice and experienced hikers alike. The King Lake Hike can be enjoyed year-round with proper snowshoes and equipment but is most frequented in the summer months. Surprisingly, King Lake is one of the most popular fly-fishing destinations in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

    Download the 10Adventures App

    View King Lake Hike on Map

    View Map

    Join our newsletter

    Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

    Route Description for King Lake Hike

    The King Lake Hike is a crowd-favorite, and we understand why! Ensure to arrive early when planning this trek to secure a parking spot. Appropriate hiking footwear is a necessity, as the terrain near the lake is rocky and you will have to navigate loose rocks. In the fall and winter, consider bringing microspikes or snowshoes as the weather at the summit can be extreme compared to the trailhead. Though it is only a day hike, bring some water, as the elevation gain and steep terrain will tire even the most experienced hikers.

    The King Lake Trail can be enjoyed by all. In the summer, the hike is littered with awe-inspiring wildflowers that will astonish anyone. Even those who turn their nose up to a hike could be persuaded by the fish-filled lake at the summit. Rarely in Colorado is there a hike where the ultimate attraction is the fish and not the panoramic mountain views. This trail is appealing to a multitude of crowds, but one of our favorite parts is the lush forest foliage that turns bright yellow and red in the fall.

    The Hike up to King Lake begins at the Hessie Trailhead Parking Lot and is accessed via the Devil’s Thumb Trail. From the carpar, head west onto The Devil’s Thumb Trail. The initial segment of the hike is quite rocky so mind your ankles and your dog’s paws!

    Continue along the Devil’s Thumb Trail, keeping left at the juncture. Follow along the trail through wooded pine forest peppered with alpine waterfalls and babbling brooks until the next intersection.

    At this point, hikers can choose to add on a kilometer to their trek and visit Lost Lake by turning left and heading south. If you wish to continue towards Kings Lake, remain on the trail and continue to head west.

    When you arrive at the next junction, turn left onto King Lake Road, this will be the trail that guides you to the Lake. As you merge onto King Lake Trail and the path progresses, it will become increasingly challenging as you enter Indian Peaks Wilderness and begin to ascend the ridge.

    Continuing along, the King Lake Trail will begin to open up with forests and wildflower meadows interspersed. As you gain elevation and navigate the switchbacks, keep an eye out for the Twin Trestles in the south! Soon after spotting the trestles, the trail becomes almost entirely exposed as hikers begin their ultimate climb to Kings Lake.

    At the summit, the stunning Kings Lake is revealed. In the fall the foliage is amazing on this trail, so be sure to snap a few photos!

    After fishing or simply indulging in the spectacular views at King Lake, it is time to make your descent. Ensure to stay on Kings Lake Trail until you meet an intersection, stay right onto Devils Thumb Trail retracing your steps to return to the car park.

    Trail Highlights

    King Lake

    Fly Fishing is a popular activity in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and King Lake delivers some of the best fishing in the area. This lake is said to have some of the most incredible Cutthroat Trout and numerous other species. So, grab your favorite fishing rod and head up to King Lake! You can’t beat fishing along the Continental Divide ridge line with a dramatic backdrop of the mountain ranges. Neighboring Bob and Betty Lakes are also popular fishing destinations!

    Insider Hints for King Lake Hike

    • Parking is limited, so arrive early and carpool when possible.
    • Keep an eye out for the Twin Trestles of Moffat Road.
    • When visiting in the warmer months, bring bug spray.

    Getting to the King Lake Hike Trailhead

    The King Lake Hike begins at the Hessie Trailhead. Parking is limited so arrive early!

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground

      Yes, permits required.

    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly

      Older Children only

    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    King Lake Hike Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather

    King Lake Hike Reviews

    Add a comment

    You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Nearby Trails

    Nearby Regions

    Get travel inspiration and discounts

    Join our weekly travel newsletter