Diamond Lake, Fourth of July Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado
Diamond Lake - 5.3 miles
Fourth of July Trailhead
|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)|
Diamond Lake - 5.3 Miles Round-Trip
Diamond Lake (10,940') is located 2.65 miles from 4th of July Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The route follows Arapaho Pass Trail up flower-covered slopes to the Diamond Lake Trail, which drops and rises steeply across the valley to the lake. This popular hike is known for abundant flowers, excellent fishing and postcard landscapes.
Diamond Lake is stocked with rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout. Camping is only permitted at designated, high-demand sites. Contact the Boulder Ranger District (303.541.2500) in advance to secure a permit.
The road is rough between Hessie and the 4th of July Trailhead. High clearance vehicles are recommended:
The Arapaho Pass Trail rises past the Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary (.4 miles : 10,385') with a good look at Diamond Lake's outlet-waterfall across the valley.
It narrows across the midsection of a steep cascade (1 mile : 10,650') to the Diamond Lake Trail split (1.15 miles : 10,752').
The Diamond Lake Trail turns south to cross the valley and drops to a bridge over North Fork Middle Boulder Creek (1.7 miles : 10,602'). A few steps upstream lead to good views of a rumbling cascade.
It levels through a damp, rooted area just past the creek (1.85 miles : 10,585') and turns sharply uphill in a north-facing forest. This steep, twisting segment may be obstructed by deadfall and snow well into summer.
The .65 mile, 350' climb abruptly levels in a damp meadow on the NE side of Diamond Lake (2.5 miles : 10,937'). The trail arcs around the meadow to the Devils Thumb Trail split (2.55 miles : 10,939') and north shore of Diamond Lake (2.65 miles : 10,940').
Campsites are clearly marked, and hikers can use these access spurs to reach different parts of the lake. Large, stream-crossed meadows on the far-west side offer a measure of privacy and are fun to explore.
- 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 N. Fork Middle 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
- 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 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 backcountry camping in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, June 1 - Sept. 15. Permits are limited.
- Permits are $5 per party. Contact the Sulphur Ranger District (970.887.4100) or Boulder Ranger District (303.541.2500) in advance to secure a permit.
- Permits must be picked up in person at either Ranger Station, or ordered in advance by mail. There is no online reservation system for permits.
- 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+stock combined.
- Camping is permitted only at designated campsites in the Diamond, Jasper, Crater and Caribou Lakes Travel Zones.
- Campfires are prohibited east of the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks Wilderness (including Diamond Lake), as well as Caribou Lake, Columbine Lake, Gourd Lake, Crater Lake and in the Cascade Creek drainage above Cascade Falls on the west side of the Divide.
- Camping is prohibited in the 4 Lakes Travel Zone (Mitchell, Blue, Long, Isabelle) May 1 - Nov 30.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of lakes, streams and trails.
- Pets must be on a handheld leash at all times.
- Packstock is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone, in the Cascade Backcountry Zone above Cascade Falls and on the Diamond Lake Trail #975.
- Fishing is permitted at Diamond Lake with a valid Colorado fishing license. Rainbow, Cutthroat and Brook Trout are stocked.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
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.
Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301