Lake Dorothy

Indian Peaks
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Lake Dorothy

Distance: 12.1km
Elevation: 594m
Time: 4-6h

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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.

Getting there

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.

About

When to do

Early June to Late September

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, in the Fourth of July Campground

Toilets

Yes, see insider hints

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

The 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 3908m.

You can walk back to the pass and look down onto Caribou Lake before heading back down the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • 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.

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