Diamond Lake, Fourth of July Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado

Diamond Lake - 5.3 miles

Fourth of July Trailhead

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake

Round-Trip Length: 5.3 miles
Start-End Elevation: 10,172' - 10,940' (10,957' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +768' net elevation gain (+1,222' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Diamond Lake - 5.3 Miles Round-Trip

Diamond Lake is located 2.65 miles from Fourth of July Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It's one of the area's most popular alpine lakes, celebrated for abundant wildflowers, excellent fishing and numerous backcountry campsites.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Social trails circle the lake with panoramas of the basin and Continental Divide, and up the lake's north shore to its inlet, where a moderate x-country route leads to Upper Diamond Lake:

The trail rises steadily past the Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary (.4 miles : 10,385') to a series of pitched switchbacks (.55 miles : 10,461').

In .8 miles (10,595') the trail levels across steep, open slopes with southerly views of Mount Neva (12,814') and its distinguished east ridge.

A waterfall across the valley - Diamond Lake's outlet - reveals its location, and useful perspective on the route you'll take to reach it. Wildflowers on this stretch are famously abundant by mid-July.

The trail narrows across the midsection of a steep waterfall (1 mile : 10,650') and climbs to the Arapaho Pass - Caribou Pass Trail split (1.15 miles : 10,752').

The Diamond Lake Trail turns south to cross the valley and drops briskly to a bridge over The North Fork of South Boulder Creek (1.7 miles : 10,602'). A few steps upstream lead to good views of a turbulent waterfall.

Wood planks run over a marsh just past the creek (1.85 miles : 10,585'); once through, the trail turns sharply uphill in a dark, north-facing forest. This steep, twisting segment may be obstructed by deadfall and lingering snow well into summer.

The .65 mile, 350' climb abruptly levels in a damp meadow on the northeast edge of Diamond Lake (2.5 miles : 10,937'). Raised wooden planks skirt the meadow to the Devils Thumb Trail split (2.55 miles : 10,939') and north shore of Diamond Lake (2.65 miles : 10,940').

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 59.714 W105 38.052 — 0.0 miles : Fourth of July Trailhead
  • N40 00.036 W105 38.346 — .55 miles : Begin switchbacks
  • N40 00.197 W105 38.616 — 1.0 miles : Cross mid-section of steep falls
  • N40 00.252 W105 38.785 — 1.15 miles : Arapaho Pass Trail junction
  • N40 00.191 W105 39.234 — 1.7 miles : Bridge over North Fork of S. Boulder Creek
  • N40 00.102 W105 39.142 — 1.85 miles : Marshy travel beyond creek crossing
  • N39 59.859 W105 38.979 — 2.25 miles : Steep climb to lake
  • N39 59.701 W105 38.898 — 2.55 miles : Devils Thumb Trail junction
  • N39 59.649 W105 38.945 — 2.65 miles : Diamond Lake
  • N39 59.648 W105 38.876 — Diamond Lake : Backcountry Campsite #9
  • N39 59.616 W105 38.861 — Diamond Lake : Backcountry Campsite #10

Worth Noting

  • The Fourth of July Trailhead is named so for the purported silver lode discovered by C.C. Alvord on July 4, 1872 in a mine along the south flank of S. Arapaho Peak. While the story details are disputed, the Fourth of July theme has taken on a more colloquial meaning for hikers - specifically that the lakes and high passes it accesses are typically not clear until after The Fourth of July. Some also attribute the name to brilliant wildflowers reminiscent of fireworks on The Fourth of July. No matter the origin, hikers should anticipate lingering snow through early-summer, and bar-none wildflowers once it clears.

  • Diamond Lake is stocked with Rainbow, Brook and Cutthroat trout.

  • A false switchback bears left off-trail .75 miles from the trailhead. Take note, as it can easily be mistaken for the real trail on the return.

  • Diamond Lake is reached by a heavily used trail artery. Get an early start to secure parking and avoid crowds, especially on weekends.

  • Road conditions between the Hessie Turnoff and 4th of July Trailhead can be rough. 4WD or all-wheel drive and high clearance is recommended.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Permits are required for all overnight campers June 1 - September 15.

  • Permits are required year-round for day and overnight use by large groups (8+) or organizational groups such as scouts, churches, schools and hiking clubs.

  • Group size is limited to 12 people or people and packstock combined.

  • Campfires are prohibited east side of the Continental Divide, as well as Caribou Lake, Columbine Lake, Gourd Lake, Crater Lake and in the Cascade Creek drainage above Cascade Falls.

  • Pets must be on a handheld leash at all times.

  • Camping is permitted only at designated campsites in the Diamond, Jasper, Crater and Caribou Lakes Backcountry Zones.

  • Camping is prohibited in the 4 Lakes Backcountry Zone (Mitchell, Blue, Long, Isabelle) May 1 - Nov 30.

  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of lakes, streams and trails.

  • Packstock are prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone, in the Cascade Backcountry Zone above Cascade Falls and on the Diamond Lake Trail #975.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted at Diamond Lake with a valid Colorado state fishing license. Rainbow, Cutthroat and Brook Trout are stocked.

Directions to Trailhead

Diamond Lake is accessed from the Fourth of July Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Nederland, CO.

From downtown Nederland, go south on Highway 72 for .5 miles to County Road 130 and make a right. You will see a sign for Eldora Ski Resort at this junction. Continue on Highway 130 through the town of Eldora, just past which it becomes a dirt road (4 miles).

Continue on the dirt road (past the Hessie Trailhead) another 4.8 miles and take the right fork at the Buckingham Campground up into the designated parking area. Though suitable for most 2WD cars in good condition, the road between the Hessie turnoff and Fourth of July Trailhead can be rough. High clearance vehicles are recommended.

Contact Information

Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301
303.541.2500

Comments

"Still too much snow to hike. You can follow footprints about a mile in, and then the trail disappears. It's still pretty impossible to find the lake. We encountered several groups of hikers who had the same experience. Road up to the trailhead is clear - no snow. "
Bria Schecker  -  Boulder, CO  -  Date Posted: May 23, 2016
"I've hiked this trail a couple of times, but never this time of year. Didn't make it to the lake due to snow and unclear trail. Pretty sure we were within a half mile or so, but trail was covered with snow and when we tried to find our way, snow was too deep for just hiking boots. Had I had snowshoes and poles, I probably would have explored more and found my way up. Trees are not maked in this area along the trail, so as more snow falls it will be extremely hard to know you are on the trail to the lake. The day was sunny and mild- perfect for a November hike. We stopped on the way back down and had lunch by the large waterfall, which was still running somewhat. I love this hike and highly recommend it during wildflower season. And yes, best if you have true 4x4 vehicle for the road up to the trailhead. AWD cars can make it, but the road will be hard on them."
Ann  -  Boulder, CO  -  Date Posted: November 8, 2015
"Yes, high clearance is definitely necessary on the road up to Fourth of July Trailhead. Another option for reaching Diamond Lake, albeit longer, leaves from the Hessie Trailhead. Check out this link for details! http://bit.ly/1uu4q3o"
ProTrails Admin  -   -  Date Posted: August 14, 2015
"Do you need a high clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead, or can you drive a sedan up there?"
Sue  -   -  Date Posted: August 13, 2015
"Lake view mediocre compared to other lake trails in Colorado. Lots of wildflowers. Wear waterproof shoes because you'll cross a couple waterfalls and streams. Bitten by mosquitoes because we forgot to spray mosquito repellent. Parking was full by 9AM. Rough rocky road driving from Hessie trailhead up to July 4th trailhead. I hike for views, not just to do a hike so overall, it's a nice hike if you want something easy. I wouldn't have gone if it wasn't for the fact that I needed something easy to hike with my son. Crowd on trail wasn't bad. Views not worth the following reasons: difficulty finding parking, rocky driving terrain (unless you have a beat up car or truck), traffic and distance from denver to trailhead. I wouldn't go again. "
Susi  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: July 22, 2015
"The hike was gorgeous! Lots of wildflower in bloom, though one more week or two would've probably been best for peak blooming. There were very sporadic patches of snow at the lake (easily avoidable- we're talking little patches), and the entire trail was completely free of snow. There seemed to be a lot of runoff this year, so the waterfalls were heavier than normal, but just made for a more beautiful hike. Definitely going to put this on my list of all time favorite hikes in CO! Absolutely beautiful!"
Jazz  -  Arvada  -  Date Posted: July 12, 2015
"The trail was dry and rocky until a certain point. Then mushy and even snow. The last 1/4 mile is all snow until the Lake. Still worth doing just dress with closed toe shoes. Absolutely beautiful. "
Stacy  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: July 4, 2014
"Hey there Willa - I snowshoed it last weekend. Without snowshoes, I can imagine some post holing and slippery/snowy conditions. It's do'able but will require some good effort. - Eric in Denver "
Eric  -   -  Date Posted: October 24, 2013
"Planning to hike to Diamond Lake tomorrow, 10/25/13. Has anyone hiked there since the flood? I'd like to know what the trail conditions are. Thanks"
Willa Pendergrast  -  Boulder  -  Date Posted: October 24, 2013
"Great hike. Got out early and saw very few people on the way up. The way down (noonish) there were a lot more people out and heading up to the lake. Be aware that the trip lengths (seems to be for all hikes) on this site are listed as shorter then the actual hike. I believe they base the length off of the GPS coordinates which gives a straight point A to point B distance, yet with hiking there is always turns and switchbacks that add to length. Total Length of this hike: 7.25 Miles Roundtrip"
Chris  -  Colorado  -  Date Posted: September 4, 2013
"When I first moved to Colorado I lived up in Nederland. This was the first trail I hiked. I will be doing it again Saturday. It is worth the trip up the mountain. Be ready to see some wild life (at least I saw some). I usually bring a pack with water, protein bars and for sure a camera. :) This is such a beautiful view once you reach the lake!"
Jenni  -  Littleton  -  Date Posted: August 30, 2012
"This trail was picked for 5280's "Top of the Town" this year, so my wife and I decided to check it out. Though it was a little crowded, there was plenty of parking on the road if you don't mind walking a quarter mile or less to get to the trailhead. The hike was gorgeous and had a ton of variety. You do go over a number of streams, so be prepared to have a little water on your shoes, but you'll be relatively dry as long as you don't fall in. Overall, great combination of forest, valley views, waterfalls, streams, and of course, the lake."
 -   -  Date Posted: July 15, 2012
"We arrived to the parking lot at 7:20 am and snagged one of the last few parking spots. So FYI, arrive early on busy weekends! Saw very few people on the way up but way down was very, very crowded. Extremely beautiful and fun hike though!"
 -   -  Date Posted: July 5, 2012
"Just hiked this yesterday on a whim and it was gorgeous! I didn't expect the "road" between Hessie and and the 4th of July trailhead to be as rough as it was, very rocky. Minimal people, minimal bugs (I forgot any kind of spray and I wasn't bitten at all!) and for this time of year the weather was perfect. Note to self: wear shoes with actual traction next time. Crossing some streams mean you're bound to get wet and a bit muddy, and the trails are covered with rocks so be careful!"
Ken  -   -  Date Posted: July 5, 2012

 

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