Herman Lake, Herman Gulch Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Herman Lake - 6.5 Miles
Herman Gulch Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||6.5 Miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||10,332' - 11,987' (12,018' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,655' net elevation gain (+1,815' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Herman Lake is located north of Bakerville, CO in the Clear Creek Ranger District of the Arapaho National Forest. It lies in the open tundra of a capacious valley just below the Continental Divide. The Herman Gulch Trail, which is part of the greater Continental Divide Trail, traces Herman Gulch through luxuriant meadows to treeline, where it branches off on a well-defined path to Herman Lake. Visitors will enjoy good trail conditions, remarkable alpine landscapes, and an excellent chance to see bighorn sheep and mountain goat in their natural habitat.
The Herman Gulch Trail begins on a mild grade through fir and aspen to the Watrous Gulch Trail split and bears north (.17 miles : 10,376'). It steepens considerably on a wide, rocky track to Herman Gulch, where it bends northwest and moderates along the creek and string of slender glades (.5 miles : 10,690'). The trail rises steadily beside the creek and bursts into a long, wide meadow in the lower gulch (1.05 miles : 10,940').
The grade relaxes up a widening valley with emerging views of the Continental Divide between Pettingell Peak (13,553') and Hagar Mountain (13,195'). Look for moose along the willow-lined creek below, and deer and elk on the broad slopes of Mount Bethel (12,705') to the south. The trail moves quickly up-valley with a picturesque backdrop, gaining only 300' between the first and second mile (2.0 miles : 11,288').
At 2.45 miles (11,464') it edges back into a healthy spruce forest and climbs steeply above the gulch, passing through treeline just before reaching the Jones Pass Trail split (2.85 miles : 11,838'). Follow signs west toward Herman Lake. The Herman Lake Trail climbs steadily into a mesmerizing alpine landscape, easing across a flat in the open tundra to the edge of Herman Lake (3.25 miles : 11,987').
Herman Lake is framed by the steep east wall of Pettingell Peak, but is free of major obstacles and easily circumnavigated. The main trail continues past the lake, eventually fading in the tundra on an informal run up to the Divide. Climb a knoll over the lake's east shore for sensational panoramas across the basin and expansive upper valley, and scan the valley walls for bighorn sheep and mountain goat that inhabit this area.
GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View these GPS points on a Google Map
- N39 42.151 W105 51.256 — Herman Gulch Trailhead
- N39 42.187 W105 51.064 — .17 miles : Herman Gulch - Watrous Gulch Trail split
- N39 42.372 W105 51.374 — .5 miles : Trail bends northwest beside creek
- N39 42.712 W105 51.622 — 1.0 miles : Travel moderates beside a long meadow
- N39 42.964 W105 52.087 — 1.5 miles : Level travel through an expanding valley
- N39 43.202 W105 52.572 — 2.0 miles : Trail continues on more rugged course
- N39 43.276 W105 53.029 — 2.5 miles : Steep climb above lower gulch thru treeline
- N39 43.370 W105 53.274 — 2.85 miles : Herman Lake - Jones Pass Trail Split
- N39 43.421 W105 53.661 — 3.25 miles : Herman Lake
- Moderate grades and good trail conditions are well-suited for families and winter recreation. Accommodating camping terrain with running water can be found along the first 2.45 miles of the trail.
- Carry versatile layers, and anticipate changing weather conditions throughout the day. Prepare for cooler temperatures, strong sun and wind in the open tundra.
- Arrive early to secure parking, avoid crowds and afternoon thunderstorms. Be mindful of changing weather patterns and aim for treeline well before storms develop.
- Look for elk and moose in the lower gulch, and bighorn sheep and mountain goat along ridgelines in the upper valley above Herman Lake.
- Seasonal hunting is permitted in the Arapaho National Forest. Wear bright colors and remain on designated trails to ensure your safety.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Arapaho National Forest. No permit is necessary.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
- Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Contact the Clear Creek Ranger District for current conditions, use restrictions and fire regulations.
- Fishing is permitted along Herman Gulch and at Herman Lake with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs, Horses and Bikes are permitted on the Herman Gulch Trail. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
- Mechanized vehicles are not permitted on the Herman Gulch Trail.
The Herman Gulch Trailhead is located .1 mile north of exit #218 from I-70. It's located between Bakerville, CO and the Eisenhower Tunnel.
From westbound I-70, exit #218 and bear right (east) on the short service road that dead-ends at the Herman Gulch Trailhead.
Clear Creek Ranger District
101 Chicago Creek Road
P.O. Box 3307
Idaho Springs, Colorado 80452
Open daily 8-4:30, open holidays