If I said we went for a hike to Lost Lake here in Colorado, your next question might very well be:
Turns out there are at least seven different Lost Lakes around the state, including one here near Nederland. But then that’s nothing compared to Oregon, where there are 19 lakes named Lost Lake.
We’ve had the privilege to visit a few of the Lost Lakes here in Colorado — Cottonwood Pass, The Grand Mesa — and found them all to be quite breathtaking.
I’m not sure why they were named Lost Lake — because they didn’t seem that far off the beaten path to me. Of course, depending on who first discovered and then named them, maybe they were way out there. Or maybe the folks that first named them were lost themselves.
The Lost Lake outside of Nederland is an easy hike that can be done in the evening after work. It’s one of my favorite places to take the dogs for an evening walk.
By driving to the Hessie Trailhead past Nederland’s high school, you’ll walk up an old mining road across the footbridge before seeing the spur trail to Lost Lake. It’s a mere 1.8 miles from where you parallel park on the road to Lost Lake.
It’s a peaceful setting with some backcountry campsites bordering the lake and a view of the Indian Peaks in the background. I’ve often thought that Lost Lake makes the ideal beginner backpack. You don’t need a permit because it’s not located within the wilderness boundary. It has some lovely, easy-to-find campsites right along the lake that are first come, first serve. And the climb is only about 700 feet gain in elevation over a couple of miles.
For the effort, you’ll be rewarded with a quiet respite from city life, with a chance for some brilliant night skies. Lost Lake also has its share of mining history that you can still discover by walking to the far end of the lake. There you will find piles of tailings, the waste rock from the gold mining operation that began in the 1890s.
The discovery of gold led to the development of the town of Eldora. First named Eldorado, the last two letters were dropped when the Postal Service informed the settlement that a town of Eldorado already existed.
Eldora’s gold rush ended prematurely, when it turned out the gold discovered was worth far less than originally thought. Still, the village still exists with many residents living part-time during the summer months. One vestige of its mining heyday is the Gold Miner Hotel, which has been continually operating for over 120 years, and now treats guests to a bed and breakfast experience.
If you want to start getting your hiking legs ready for the summer, consider Lost Lake. In summertime, it can be pretty busy, and parking is quite challenging on weekends. A shuttle from the Nederland Park and Ride to the trailhead is a good alternative.