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    Lake Nighthorse Trail

    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.
    3.7 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.
    56 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Hiking the Lake Nighthorse Trail is a fantastic family-friendly activity outside of Durango, Colorado that will lead you along the shores of a scenic lake. While out on the trail, you will meander along the water’s edge and take in the beautifully scenic views across the water. It may be a quick and easy route, but for the low level of effort required the views are outstanding!

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    Route Description for Lake Nighthorse Trail

    Featuring little in the way of difficult terrain, the Lake Nighthorse Trail is a short adventure that offers some beautiful views across the water. There is a $4 fee to access the area, so make sure to plan ahead and arrive early to secure parking. Additionally, if you are looking to spend some time by the water after your hike don’t forget to bring your swimsuit!

    Although it isn’t the longest hiking route around, the Lake Nighthorse Trail is a relaxing adventure that will see you meander along the shoreline of the lake and take in some wonderfully scenic views of the water. This is a great route for the entire family to get outside and spend some time by the lake.

    Setting out from the parking area, you will make your way to the southeast along the road as it skirts the edge of Lake Nighthorse. Throughout this short route you will enjoy beautifully scenic views that sweep across the calm surface of the water.

    With the tree covered hillside on your left and the open water on your right, you will continue along the route as it winds back and forth along the shoreline. At the far end of the lake to the southwest, you will be able to spot the rugged peak of Basin Mountain standing proudly above the lake.

    After 1.8 km of hiking along the road, you will reach the endpoint of the trail near the Ridges Basin Dam. Forms here, simply turn back along the trail to take in the views once again on the return leg into the parking area where you began the Lake Nighthorse Trail.

    Trail Highlights

    Lake Nighthorse

    Located southwest of Durango, Colorado, Lake Nighthorse is a manmade reservoir created by the Ridges Basin Dam. Construction began in 2003 and the eventual lake that formed was named after the former US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. The lake has been open for recreational purposes since 2018 and has since been stocked with rainbow trout, brown trout, and kokanee salmon.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How much does it cost to visit Lake Nighthorse?

    There is an entrance fee of $4 for a day pass or $80 for a season-long vehicle pass.

    Can you swim in Lake Nighthorse?

    A Variety of water sports, including swimming, fishing, and boating are permitted at Lake Nighthorse.

    Insider Hints for Lake Nighthorse Trail

    • There is a day pass fee of $4 to access the area surrounding the lake.
    • Wear comfortable footwear.
    • Bring your swimsuit if you want to spend some time in or around the water!

    Getting to the Lake Nighthorse Trail Trailhead

    The starting point for the Lake Nighthorse Trail can be found at the Lake Nighthorse boat dock, just south of County Road 210.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Lake Nighthorse Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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    Lake Nighthorse Trail Reviews

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