Boulder’s Best Kept Secret: Hessie Trailhead
So it is indeed getting chillier… but SO WHAT. You are a devout outdoorsman or outdoorswoman and nothing less than apocalyptic plague of locust would stop you from racing up mountains, rambling through rivers, or taking Zibeon, your falcon, out for a jaunt. A great place to start is at the Hessie Trailhead, which leads into the Indian Peaks Wilderness, no matter your level of outdoorsy-ness. I list several hike options below ranging from easy to difficult.
- First Waterfalls on Middle Boulder Creek: A very short hike from the actual trailhead, and just over 0.6 mile from parking along the easy access road, you can access the Boulder Creek which hosts Rainbow Trout fishing and a beautiful view. After walking over the bridge on the creek, walk past the trailhead and continue until coming to a very obvious fork. (There are several small social trails, along the main trail, but this one will be larger and more obvious). Head to your left for the waterfalls. You will pass an old abandoned log cabin on the way to the falls and soon after there the beautiful falls will be.
- Short Hike to Scenic landscapes: Simply following the main trail (right at the fork) will lead you to a valley where the trail opens up to great views. While the leaves have mostly dropped now, this is beautiful view in the fall. Once you get back into thicker woods there won’t be any sprawling views for a while. This trail is pretty much all up hill but not too rocky and is fairly wide.
- Middle Boulder Creek Hike: The distance is 1.2 miles from the fork of the trail (go left) to the next intersection of the creek and main trail just before Lost Lake. This is moderate because of the uneven and terrain and less obvious path to take. Continue hiking past the waterfalls. This is a popular rout for anglers who plop down every few hundred yards to try their luck once more.
- Lost Lake: This hike is 1.75 miles from the trailhead (total of 2.35 miles from the low-clearance vehicle parking). It is all uphill and the trail narrows to singletrack after the second bridge across Middle Boulder Creek. The lake hosts several camping spots (Indian Peaks Wilderness camping is by permit only) and fishing. This out and back trail means its total of 4.7 miles.
- Woodland Lake or Skyscraper Reservoir: 5.4 or 5.8 miles one way (respectively) from low clearance vehicle parking. These hikes are through pristine wilderness and gain some elevation from starting at about 9000 ft at the trailhead to about 11,000 ft. I would expect snow at this time of year. Dayhike or get a permit for camping.
- Jasper Lake or Devil’s Thumb Lake: This is a 6.5 or 7.5 mile hike (respectively) one way from the low clearance vehicle parking. There are camping spots at Jasper lake (sitting at 10,800 ft) to make this into a full backpacking experience.
- Big Loop Back Packing Hike: From the Hessie Trailhead you can take the Devil’s Thumb Pass Trail to the Continental Divide on the High Lonesome trails back on the King Lake Trail for a total of a round 16 miles. This is sure to be chilly and without proper gear is not recommended at this time of year.
Directions to Trailhead: Hessie Trailhead is located near Nederland. Continue towards Eldora Ski Resort, drive past it, then through the tiny town of Eldora which will soon turn into a dirt road. Follow the road until you end up at the port-a-potties and a sign for Hessie Trailhead and 4th of July Trailhead. You Can park on the road (be very aware of no parking signs, as tickets are given out). During the summer, on weekends to avoid parking issues there is a free shuttle from the Nederland High School. If you have a 4 Wheel Drive vehicle with high clearance you may choose to drive along the jeep road the 0.6 mile to the actual start of the trailhead where there are about 4 parking spots. There is a nice short trail through the woods if you do not want to walk along the water logged jeep road to the trailhead.