Lonesome Lake, Lonesome Lake Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Lonesome Lake - 10.4 miles

Lonesome Lake Trailhead

Lonesome Lake (11,571')

Lonesome Lake (11,571')

Round-Trip Length: 10.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 10,020' - 11,571' (11,585' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,551' net elevation gain (+1,965' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Lonesome Lake - 10.4 Miles Round-Trip

Lonesome Lake (11,571') is located 5.2 miles from Homestake Reservoir in the Holy Cross Wilderness. It sits just above treeline surrounded by grassy slopes, large boulders and tree-topped knolls.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Lonesome Lake Trail follows East Fork Homestake Creek through large meadows with slow oxbows and rich habitat for wildlife. Sunny glades throughout support a full spectrum of flowers, and give it an airy feel.

Most hikers in this area head for Missouri and Fancy lakes, and overlook this attractive destination. Visitors will enjoy great camping and lighter crowds at Lonesome Lake:

The trail rises quickly past the dam to a crest, then drops to a skinny, elevated bridge over the creek (.65 miles : 10,340’). Crossing in the water may be easier/safer if wet or with a heavy pack.

Travel moderates up the west side of the creek to the first of three large meadows (1.5 miles : 10,455’). This damp, diversely vegetated area is a great place to see wildlife and fish oxbows in the center.

The trail runs through open space before undulating away in the forest. It’s possible to stay in the meadow and follow a social track across, knowing at some point you’ll need to improvise back.

The main trail reaches a high point at the far end of the meadow (2.25 miles), and resumes mild-moderate undulations through bands of timber and glades. It drops to a second meadow and toggles between the forest and open space (2.7 miles : 10,585’). You may continue in this meadow as well, but terrain is more uneven and cluttered than the first.

Grades steepen past the second meadow on a variously faint, shifting and rooted path (3.5 miles : 10,725’). Travel is still generally moderate to a third meadow (4.55 miles : 11,225’), at the far end of which is a steep slope that you’ll scale through treeline into a postcard-like setting.

The trail loses clarity in places, but is intuitively followed up-valley to Lonesome Lake (5.2 miles : 11,571’). Rolling meadows, ponds, pockets of krummholz and large boulders surround the lake, offering privacy and fun nooks to explore.

Scale slopes for an aerial view of the basin, and continue all the way to a low ridge on the Continental Divide, where you can peer down on Timberline Lake in a large cirque near Leadville CO.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 22.445 W106 27.374 — 0.0 miles : Lonesome Lake Trail - Homestake Reservoir
  • N39 21.974 W106 27.070 — .65 miles : Cross bridge to west side of creek
  • N39 21.731 W106 27.198 — 1.0 miles : Fast, mild grade in young fir forest
  • N39 21.408 W106 27.351 — 1.5 miles : Drop to edge of first large meadow
  • N39 20.992 W106 27.336 — 2.0 miles : Undulating travel above meadow
  • N39 20.594 W106 27.295 — 2.5 miles : Mild-mod undulations between meadows
  • N39 20.223 W106 27.260 — 3.0 miles : Toggle between the woods and meadow
  • N39 19.846 W106 27.210 — 3.5 miles : Grades steepen past second meadow
  • N39 19.453 W106 27.281 — 4.0 miles : Travel is more rugged on shifting path
  • N39 19.125 W106 27.610 — 4.5 miles : Reach edge of third meadow near treeline
  • N39 18.935 W106 27.983 — 5.0 miles : Steep climb through treeline on final pus
  • N39 18.778 W106 28.195 — 5.2 miles : Lonesome Lake (11,571')

Worth Noting

  • Portions of the trail can be faint through meadows and on the final ascent, especially during the summer thaw and periods of rain. Keep track of the trail near the lake - it can be hard to regain when you depart.
  • This is a particularly good trail for seeing wildlife. Large meadows and verdant forests support moose, elk and deer. Look for signs of mountain lion and bear in the meadows. Steep slopes and ridges in the upper valley are home to bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
  • Mosquitoes can be a nuisance on this trail. Long sleeves and repellants are recommended. 
  • Homestake Reservoir is a 45,000 acre-foot reservoir in the Colorado River basin. The Homestake trans-mountain diversion system collects water from the Homestake Creek watershed and stores water in Homestake Reservoir for delivery through the 5.2 mile long Homestake Tunnel under the Continental Divide into Turquoise Reservoir near Leadville, CO.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry Camping

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. Self-registration permits are available at the trailhead and/or Wilderness Boundary. There is no fee or limit to the number of permits issued. Backpackers must carry a completed registration form with them for the duration of the trip.

  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.

  • Campfires are permitted in the Holy Cross Wilderness for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

  • Gold Camp is a developed campground on Homestake Road. There are also many undeveloped campsites along Homestake Road with no fees. These are not marked but the turnoffs for each are fairly clear. Be mindful of adjacent private property.

  • Contact the Holy Cross Ranger District (970.827.5715) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted at Lonesome Lake and along East Fork Homestake Creek with a valid Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed or under strict voice control at all times.

Directions to Trailhead

The Lonesome Lake - Homestake Reservoir Trailhead is located on Homestake Road, 10.0 miles west of Highway 24.

From I-70, take Exit 171 (just west of West Vail) and follow Highway 24 south 12.4 miles to Homestake Road (right turn). Anticipate this turn, as it comes quickly on a bend in the road.

Take Homestake Road to its terminus at the reservoir. Park in designated spaces and follow signs (left) along construction fencing to the trailhead about 100 yards ahead. Watch for wildlife on the road, especially at dawn and dusk.

Contact Information

Holy Cross Ranger District
24747 US Highway 24
Minturn, CO 81645

White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Trailhead years ago was 1 1/2 mile closer up from Reservoir road, followed old road to pond. But moved it down hill north of stream. So must hike moderate-steep climb, then cross over wooden bridge to first meadow that opens vista of valley. There are many beavers, blue grouse. I agree with alex comment above, this is rare gem. Understand name. First sight of valley vista after crossing bridge is breathtaking; trail stays along edge into treeline 4 miles. "
John Wickham  -  Conifer CO 80439  -  Date Posted: August 21, 2017
"This lake is a gem! (shhhh) We only saw one person early on and then had the trail and lake to ourselves on a Wednesday in summer. I have done dozens of lake hikes, and this is perhaps the best. Very moderate trail except for the beginning and end, plus a bit of a sketchy stream xing listed above. We opted for the rocks, but they are few and far between. However, if I can make it with my poor balance, anyone who is careful (and with hiking poles) should be OK. The meadows are glorious with a greater variety of wildflowers than I think I have ever seen on one hike, and this has been a generally poor wildflower year. Lots of soft pine-needle paths, water features and a very explorable lake. Wish we had more time, but storms were moving in, and we sped quickly back to the trailhead starting at noon, though we did get a little wet (but were prepared) and encountered some thunder, but no lightning near us. We stopped to eat in Minturn after, and none of the locals had heard of this lake, so it's a hidden jewel for sure (let's keep it that way!)."
Alex C  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: August 3, 2017


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