Woodland Lake, Hessie Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado

Woodland Lake - 9.1 miles

Hessie Trailhead

Woodland Lake (10,972')

Woodland Lake (10,972')

Round-Trip Length: 9.1 miles
Start-End Elevation: 9,009' - 10,972' (10,982' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,963' net elevation gain (+2,117' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Woodland Lake - 9.1 Miles Round-Trip

Woodland Lake is located 4.55 miles from Hessie Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It lies at treeline in a narrow valley that drains into Jasper Creek. It covers 6 acres at a maximum depth of 7', with nice openings on the west side ideal for camping and fishing.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Woodland Lake sees lighter traffic than other destinations in this travel zone, a good choice during peak summer months:

 The trail begins on a steep dirt road that merges with South Fork Middle Boulder Creek at the King Lake - Devils Thumb Bypass Trail split (.85 miles : 9,455').

It rises along the creek to the Lost Lake Trail split (1.1 miles : 9,582') and eases into a meadow at the King Lake - Woodland Lake Trail split (1.3 miles : 9,600').

The trail enters a large meadow on level double track across the Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary (1.45 : 9,611'). It follows the old wagon road through intervals of forest and meadow, first loosely, then closely beside Jasper Creek to the Devils Thumb Trail - Woodland Lake Trail split (2.35 miles : 9,747').

Note that social trails circumvent washed out areas along Jasper Creek up to this split.

The Woodland Lake Trail bears left and steepens up Woodland Creek to a footbridge (2.8 miles : 10,022'), past which climbing intensifies on a rugged, shifting path. It moderates briefly in a tranquil forest braided with streams and dotted with glades (3.2 miles : 10,395').

The oft-wet trail inches back toward Woodland Creek and rises fast to another flat (3.5 miles : 10,609'). This attractive section is highlighted by converging streams, cascades, flowers and mushrooms.

Travel eases with intermittent clarity away from the creek to a small pond (3.8 miles : 10,737') and up the north edge of a marshy meadow in the upper valley.

The trail enters a small spruce stand on the meadow's west end (4.0 miles) and emerges in open space at the base of Woodland Lake's outlet stream (4.3 miles).

It levels beside the outlet to Woodland Lake, partially hidden a few dozen yards off trail by thick willow and krummholz (4.55 miles : 10,972').

Access and views are limited from its north shore, but crossing the narrow outlet to its southeast shore leads to grassy slopes and better views.

From this point you may also see the spillover from Skyscraper Reservoir (11,220') in the upper northwest corner of the valley. Continue on the main trail .15 miles to social trails around Woodland Lake's open west shore.

Facebook Comments

Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 57.100 W105 35.696 — 2WD Parking Area for Hessie Trailhead
  • N39 57.278 W105 36.192 — Hessie Trailhead
  • N39 57.330 W105 36.780 — .85 miles : King Lake - Devils Thumb Bypass split
  • N39 57.265 W105 37.000 — 1.1 miles : Lost Lake Trail split
  • N39 57.251 W105 37.193 — 1.3 miles : King Lake - Woodland Lake Trail split
  • N39 57.773 W105 37.961 — 2.35 miles : Devils Thumb - Woodland Lake Trail split
  • N39 57.732 W105 38.387 — 2.8 miles : Cross bridge over Woodland Creek
  • N39 57.602 W105 38.644 — 3.2 miles : Trail levels in forest; head toward creek
  • N39 57.474 W105 38.861 — 3.5 miles : Trail levels in scenic plateau
  • N39 57.441 W105 39.075 — 3.8 miles : Trail levels beside meadow
  • N39 57.372 W105 39.258 — 4.0 miles : Lengthy meadow ends; re-enter forest
  • N39 57.335 W105 39.407 — 4.2 miles : Nearing Woodland Lake
  • N39 57.289 W105 39.734 — 4.5 miles : Trail runs adjacent to Woodland Lake
  • N39 57.270 W105 39.768 — 4.55 miles : Woodland Lake

Worth Noting

  • Anticipate heavy runoff and lingering snow through late summer. Use the trail's proximity to Woodland Creek for navigational guidance.

  • Woodland Lake primarily supports cutthroat trout, but some grayling have also been stocked.

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 at Woodland Lake and 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.

  • 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 is prohibited in the 4 Lakes Backcountry Zone, the Cascade Backcountry Zone above Cascade Falls, and on the Diamond Lake Trail #975.

Directions to Trailhead

Woodland Lake is accessed from the Hessie Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Nederland, Colorado.

From downtown Nederland, go north 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).

2WD drive conditions end 4.8 miles from the Highway 72 turnoff. 4WD vehicles may veer left at this demarcation and continue another .5 miles to the trailhead. Others will have to park at one of the limited roadside spaces and walk the 4WD road to the Hessie Trailhead.

Contact Information

Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Great hike, I'd rate as moderate to hard difficulty because of the elevation gain. Towards the top there was a lot of mud and a few snow banks. At one point we got lost in the marshy area, plus there was abfelled tree straight down the path. Not a ton of good camping spots as well due to how wet everything was so I would recommend getting there early to get a good spot if camping overnight. "
Lauren  -  Aurora  -  Date Posted: June 25, 2018
"@ Meagen.... please, please, please stay on the trail even when wet and muddy- hiking around only widens the trails, negatively impacting it."
mary  -  colorado  -  Date Posted: September 16, 2015
"This is a beautiful hike, steep and very rocky in places, but well worth the trip. My friends and I noticed that after the last split in the trail, there was no additional signage, and there were places that were not easily determined which way to go. Be careful on the way up making those direction decisions. Coming down, it was a breeze, as the trail just flowed nicely. Didn't seem that way going up. Also, we saw over 20 dogs that day, and exactly 3, including ours, was leashed. We were pretty much annoyed by most of the people with their dogs, as they seemed to not care in the least that their dog was wandering or annoying other people/dogs. We chose to follow the law, and leash our extremely well behaved dog who would lie down and wait for all the others to pass. Clearly, others seem to feel they are above the law. Frustrating to say the least, but it didn't ruin our day. ENJOY!!"
Sharon Heinzerling  -  Englewood, Colorado  -  Date Posted: September 9, 2015
"We began the hike early morning around 8am and the parking was already filling up. Make sure to park between the parking signs or a nice $35 parking ticket will ruin your day (yup...true story). We found a lot of the lower elevation trails were washed out and extremely muddy causing us to maneuver off trail or using some side trails that were less of a mess. This is how we found ourselves on Woodland Lake instead of up to Jasper as we had planned. Trails seemed to be marked at the intersections only and not at points along the trail. Even though this wasn't a planned route, it was still amazing. You'll see many waterfalls and pools during the trek up the mountain. A large portion of the trail is loose rock and a steep hike. In early July, there was still areas of snow but the temp was perfect for short sleeves. "
Meagen  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: July 6, 2015
"A few of my friends and I made the trip. Snoeshoes become an absolute must at coordinate 8 onwards as the route is very steep at times with a very deep and slippery snowpack. When descending these sections on the way back, take it nice and easy. It's easy to slide and crashing into a tree on the slope would ruin your day. Very beautiful hike with excellent views of various peaks and valleys."
Nicholas Hunter  -  Nederland, Colorado  -  Date Posted: May 31, 2015


Add Comment

Only used to identify you to ProTrails. Will not show on comments list.
Tell us when your experience with this trail happened.