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 is located 2.65 miles from the Fourth of July Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It's one of the area's most popular alpine lakes, celebrated for prolific wildflowers, excellent fishing, and numerous backcountry campsites. 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 Backcountry board (.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 notoriously 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').
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N39 59.714 W105 38.052 — 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
- The Fourth of July Trailhead is named so because the lakes and high passes it accesses are typically not clear until after The Fourth of July. Locals have played on this name and claim its origin is tied to magnificent wildflower displays reminiscent of fireworks on The Fourth of July. Both interpretations are valid: anticipate lingering snow through mid-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 is permitted at Diamond Lake with a valid Colorado state fishing license. Rainbow, Cutthroat and Brook Trout are stocked.
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