- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
This hike through the Indian Peaks has an awesome reward: Lake Dorothy. Lake Dorothy is a beautiful alpine lake at the base of Mount Neva. The stunning mountain backdrop of Mount Neva is something special.
Join our newsletter
Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers
Route Description for Lake Dorothy
The Lake Dorothy Trailhead begins at the end of Fourth of July Road. At the trailhead you will begin on Arapaho Pass Trail from a well-marked trailhead with a map of the surrounding area. From the trailhead you can look down the valley and see Eldora Mountain Ski Resort. The trail slowly gains elevation as it traverses along the valley below, through the thick pine forest.
As you continue to gain elevation, there is a junction in the trail and a sign; you'll continue to Arapaho Pass / Lake Dorothy. Eventually, the trail rises above the tree line and the views become expansive.
Once you arrive in the flat alpine meadow there is a second junction in the trail. Continue to Arapaho Pass, avoiding the steep switchbacks that lead up to Arapaho Glacier.
Along the way there is a historic mining site with remains of heavy industrial equipment. This area makes for a good rest stop before marching up the sustained climb to the Continental Divide and Lake Dorothy. The path to the top is obvious and straightforward.
A ramp traversing along the side of the mountain becomes rocky and exposed to the elements. Once arriving on top of Arapaho Pass, Lake Dorothy is to the west, or hikers’ left, and sits at the base of Mt. Neva with an elevation of 3,908 m.
You can walk back to the pass and look down onto Caribou Lake, before heading back down the way you came.
Hiking Trail Highlights
Nestled in the southern part of Indian Peaks Wilderness, hikers can find the lopsided heart-shaped Lake Dorothy. This natural alpine lake makes for a fantastic picnic spot, where hikers can rest their legs and enjoy a sandwich or two.
As you walk along the lake, keep eyes peeled for red belly marmots, which can be seen sunbathing on the rocks. Though, it’s best to visit here during late summer, as Lake Dorthy can still be frozen in June— which isn’t surprising considering it’s the highest lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Standing at 3,908 m tall, Mount Neva is rather hard to miss on this hike. Noted as one of the most iconic peaks in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, you’ll want to stop and take in this mammoth throughout your walk. The mountain is actually climbable, but only those with extreme scrambling skills should attempt it, as it requires lots of crawling on hands and feet. For those less risk-averse, we recommend snapping a picture or two from the safety of the well-paved trail.
Insider Hints for Lake Dorothy
- Unimproved camping is available at 4th of July Campground, you might be able to guess how this area came to be named 4th of July, here is a guess; it has to do with snow!
- The pit toilets on the trail are only open during the peak season (6/1-9/15).
- Visit the Town of Nederland, and grab a bite at Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse or a beer at the Very Nice Brewing Company after your hike.
- High clearance 4x4 vehicles are not required to tackle the gravel road up, but it wouldn’t hurt!
- Plan for hiking over rocks and roots, and don’t be surprised if there is water that has collected on the trail. During late spring and summer, water runoff from the high mountains will continue to keep this trail wet; this creates an exciting waterfall crossing with stepping stones to get across.
Getting to the Lake Dorothy Trailhead
To get to the Lake Dorothy Trailhead, from Nederland traffic circle, take the 3rd exit, South onto N Bridge St./Peak to Peak Hwy. Turn right on Eldora Rd. Continue onto Hessie Road where it turns to gravel. Take a Right on 4th of July Rd up to the parking.
Lake Dorothy Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
Lake Dorothy Reviews
Add a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.
- Caribou District Peaks Hike
- Caribou Pass via Arapaho Pass Trail
- Caribou Hill Trail
- Old Baldy Mountain Hike
- Arapaho Pass Trail
- Mount Jasper Hike
- Fourth of July Mine via Arapaho Pass Trail
- Upper Diamond Lake Hike
- South Arapaho Peak via Arapaho Glacier Hike
- Caribou Lake via Arapaho Pass Hike
- Caribou Hill
- Diamond Lake Trail