Devils Thumb Lake - Hessie Trailhead

Difficulty level - Moderataneous Plus to strenuousitous

Trail Length 10.9 miles

Start-End Elevation 9,009' - 11,138' (11,154' max elevation)

Elevation Change +2,129' net elevation gain (+2,345' total round trip elevation gain)


We will meet at the BOULDER COUNTY JUSTICE CENTER by 8AM to coordinate/ carpool, etc., (NOT AT Hessie Trailhead).


Boulder County Justice Center

1777 6th Street, Boulder (6th and Canyon)


IMPORTANT! - Please try to be at the Pre-meet

location BY 8:02am



From Nederland, head south on Colorado Highway 119 for 0.5 miles.

Turn west onto CountyRoad 130 (Eldora Ski Resort sign). Stay on the main road through the town of Eldora.

Once the pavement ends, continue for another mile. Look for a sign and vehicles parkedabove a side road heading sharply down and to the left.

This side road leads to Hessie TH andis a cobblestone creek bed that carries water year round. Vehicles without high clearance
should park at this junction. From here, it is a 0.25-mile walk to the trailhead.

This trailhead sees high use, especially on weekends, and parking is limited.

Trail Highlights

From the trailhead cross the footbridge and take the Devil's Thumb Trail #902, which climbs steeply for about 0.5-miles on an old road.

The shorter Devil's Thumb Bypass turns right (north) in 0.8 miles, just before the second bridge and crosses open meadows to the north.

In 1.5 miles, the Diamond Lake Trail #975 forks right to the north (#975 leads past Diamond Lake to connect to the Arapaho Pass Trail). From the Diamond Lake Trail junction it is another 0.6 miles to Jasper Lake, a very popular camping area with limited, designated sites.

The trail continues for a mile to Devil's Thumb Lake. Several switchbacks lead up the steep side of a ridge to reach the Continental Divide.

From the top, it is 0.6 miles to the north to Devil's Thumb Pass and three miles to the King Lake Trail #901. It is not difficult to see the High Lonesome Trail below and west of the Devil's Thumb Trail.

Finding the Devil's Thumb Trail from the High Lonesome Trail is challenging.

"Devils Thumb Lake is located 5.45 miles from the Hessie Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It lies at treeline in the northwest corner of an idyllic alpine valley below the Divide and eponymous Devils Thumb spire.

The lake's east shore is shrouded by krummholz, but open along its south and west shores. Visitors will enjoy serene forests, rich meadows, and climactic alpine landscapes on the hike to Devils Thumb Lake:

The trail begins on a steep dirt road lined with aspen and wildflowers, merging with the South Fork of Middle Boulder Creek at the Devils Thumb Bypass Trail split (.85 miles : 9,455'). Bear right on the Devils Thumb Bypass Trail.

Moderately steep switchbacks twist through dense forest to a broad meadow ringed by aspen, braided with streams, and dotted with wildflowers (1.25 miles : 9,625'). This is a good place to look for deer, elk, bear, and beaver. The trail levels past the Wilderness Boundary (1.4 miles : 9,650') back into the forest (1.65 miles).

A moderate, rocky path climbs through intervals of timber, meadow, and marsh to the Devils Thumb Trail - Woodland Lake Trail split (2.2 miles, 9,792'). Veer right toward Jasper Lake on a steeper grade that's intermittently obscured by runoff and snow through mid-July.

Be patient with route finding, follow signposts, and ignore social trails that ostensibly offer an easier passage. Anticipate one sudden, poorly marked left turn over a tributary at 2.85 miles (10,215').

The trail methodically climbs a south-facing valley wall to the Diamond Lake Trail split (3.75 miles : 10,675'), past which it undulates in a thinning forest to the first of two spurs for Jasper Lake (4.35 miles). Note that Jasper Lake is not immediately visible from this point; follow the short spur up the bank to view it.

The Devils Thumb Trail continues below Jasper Lake, crosses its outlet stream on a dilapidated footbridge and rises back toward its southwest shore. A Devils Thumb - High Lonesome Trail sign (4.5 miles) and spur for Backcountry Campsite D (4.7 miles) indicate you're on track.

The trail - now periodically faint and obstructed - passes a large pond and weaves unpredictably through dark forest to a meadow with useful topographic perspective on the upper valley (5.0 miles : 10,908').

The trail circles right of this meadow (5.1 miles) and winds up a steep ridge to a high flat near treeline (5.4 miles : 11,034'). Devils Thumb Lake sits just off trail to the right from the ridge-crest (5.45 miles : 11,138').

The lake is guarded by thick krummholz on the east shore, but more accessible further up the trail on its south and west shores.

Travel beyond Devils Thumb Lake leads into vast open tundra highlighted by ponds (5.95 miles : 11,230'), wildflowers, and incredible panoramas. The trail continues south and above these ponds to the High Lonesome Trail atop the Continental Divide. The High Lonesome Trail runs south along the Divide to King Lake, and north to Devils Thumb Pass (11,775')."

Contact information:

If you need to contact me[masked] (If you text me, please identify who you are anonymously).




We will determine the approximate rendevous time for Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery once we gather at the lake/ trails end.

Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery

70 East 1st Street, Nederland, CO


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