This hike provides one of Colorado's easiest access point to a true wilderness trail. It begins from the Ryan Gulch Road and then passes along the lower slopes of Buffalo Mountain in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. The Wilderness rules exclude snowmobiles.
The trail skirts the southern portion of the Gore Range. It goes south and slightly southwest beginning a minor climb to a stand of pine trees before flattening soon to wind through a frozen wetland of beaver ponds and small lakes, framed in a forest of aspen and lodgepoles.
The route is wide and gentle as it descends through the trees with clearings here and there. After the Salt Lick Trail joins in from the left, the trail to Lily Pad Lake drops slightly into a mixed grove of aspens and conifers. One more little rise and you reach the first lake. The second is not far beyond.
WHERE: Eagle Nest Wilderness, Lily Pad Trail
WHAT: Cross-Country Skiing or Snowshoeing
LENGTH: Just under 3.5 miles out-and-back with snack/turnaround at Lily Pad Lake.
TRAVEL TIME: 70 min from Denver
CARPOOL LOT: Woolly Mammoth Parking Lot Section KK or JJ (exit I-70 #259) , 80401, CO
CARPOOL TIME: (9.15 am & wheels up at 9.30 am)
TRAILHEAD TIME: 10.45 am
FOOD: Somewhere in Summit County (optional)
FITNESS LEVEL [Intermediate]: You should have been snowshoeing or cross country skiing more than once and have the proper clothing. We will stick together, as a group or as subgroups of the larger group, and always communicate with other members of the group. Never hike alone in the winter.
• Trailhead: 39°37'1.17"N,106° 6'37.27"W, 9620 feet
• Distance: just under 3.5 miles out-and-back
• Avalanche hazard: Moderate (on specific terrain features)
• Elevation: 9,620 ft - 9,915 ft (high pt is 10,000 ft)
Elevation gain: 315 ft (net), 900 ft (cumulative)
• Dogs: Wilderness act requires dogs be leashed
Directions to Trailhead: Exit I-70 at exit 205 and take Colorado 9 north (about a block) to the traffic light at Wendy's. Turn left onto Wildernest Rd., just in front of the 7-11, and continue 3.5 miles to the final loop at the end of the road. (Wildernest Rd. turns into Ryan Gulch Road) At the top of the loop you will see a parking area on your left. A dirt road across from the parking area leads up the hill to the trailhead. The trail of 1.6 miles leads to two lakes - Lower Lily Pad Lake and Upper Lily Pad Lake.
Road Conditions: The trailhead is in a residential area and plowed.
Lily Pad Lake Trail Google Earth KML
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DISCLAIMER: Part of the fun in a group is learning new things about the outdoors. We share stories, tips and happily share our knowledge of gear and trails with others. Though we care about your well being is true, your personal safety is 100% your responsibility on a trip. The trip organizer provides an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the event together and has no responsibility or liability for the safety of participants.