Linkins Lake, Independence Lake Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado

Linkins Lake - 1.2 miles

Independence Lake Trailhead

Linkins Lake (12,008')

Linkins Lake (12,008')

Round-Trip Length: 1.2 miles
Start-End Elevation: 11,506' - 12,008' (12,008' max elevation at lake)
Elevation Change: +502' net elevation gain (+547' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Linkins Lake - 1.2 Miles Round-Trip

Linkins Lake (12,008') is located .6 miles from Independence Lake Trailhead off Highway 82 in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. It fills a steep-walled bowl along the south ridge of Geissler Mountain. This short, family-friendly hike offers a high alpine lake experience with minimal effort.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail begins at treeline up to the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness Boundary and split for Linkins Lake (.15 miles : 11,615'). The Linkins Lake Trail breaks left and winds steeply up the west valley wall to the east side of Linkins Lake (.6 miles : 12,008'). 

The lake is fairly large with a gentle open shore ideal for fishing and exploration. Social trails lead over the lake to outcrops with great aerial views of the basin, and to scrambling routes that continue up the Geissler ridge. It's also quite easy to explore high alpine meadows over the north shore.

Consider continuing on to Independence Lake (12,487'), a moderate 1.65 miles from the split to Linkins Lake along the Lost Man Loop.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 07.484 W106 34.909 — 0.0 miles : Independence Lake Trailhead
  • N39 07.577 W106 34.996 — .15 miles : Linkins Lake Trail split + Wilderness Boundary
  • N39 07.736 W106 35.037 — .37 miles : Begin short switchbacks
  • N39 07.679 W106 35.238 — .6 miles : Linkins Lake (12,008')
  • N39 08.184 W106 35.072 — Alpine tarn above lake

Worth Noting

  • The name origin of the 'Fryingpan' is uncertain, but one story is that a group of prospectors fled from hostile Native Americans only to run into another, and claimed they had run from the 'fryingpan into the fire'.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry Camping

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. No fees or permits are required.

  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals (or 25 with people + stock).

  • Campfires are permitted in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Location-specific restrictions may also apply.

  • Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or the Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted at Linkins Lake, Independence Lake, Lost Man Lake, Deadman Lake and along all related streams with a valid Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness.

Directions to Trailhead

Independence Lake Trailhead is located 17.3 miles east of Original Street in downtown Aspen along Highway 82 (at the last switchback before reaching Independence Pass).

Contact Information

Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611

Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623

White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670

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