Native Lake

September 2, 2018 · San Isabel National Forest

The hike to Native Lake is one of the many Family Friendly trails just outside of Leadville, just past Turquoise Lake. That it is couched as a Family Friendly trail is kind of funny, documented maps show this trail as short, but very steep, nearly straight up. The trail has since been fixed to not be straight up, it has many switchbacks in it, but it is a steep trail nonetheless. This hike came in at 6.1 miles roundtrip for me.

I chose this trail for day-two, after a long hike the previous day to Brown's Pass. When I think of Family Friendly trails, I think of relatively smooth gently rising trails with plenty of views to keep kids visually engaged. The majority of this trail is in tall thick stands of conifers and is dark. I can easily see this trail being a bit scary for smaller children and boring for pre-teen and teen-aged kids.

Due to the grade of this trail I could easily see this as a forced march for little kids. On the way out, after finishing the steepest part of the trail the Family Friendly thing came to mind again, and as if on que, I heard a tiny set of lungs wailing and screeming "IIIIII Waaaaant Toooo Go Hooooome! Nooooow! Pleeeeease!!!" A family with two young kids, a pre-teen boy and small girl with a beet red face crying and wailing at the top of her lungs. As I passed the parents I smiled, and they returned with a "Having the time of our lives! Really!" smile.

Aside from what I felt was a mis-categorization of this trail, the switchbacks help with tackling the steep inclines. The weather started out questionable and the forecast called for rain in the afternoon. The thick canopy and dark colors of the first part of the trail have a Medieval-European forest feel to it.

Once you breakout of the thick canopy, there is an impressive view of the ridgeline for Hagerman Pass and a bow in the ridge and the top of Mt. Massive is barely visible. The trees give way to an impressive vista of knee and waist-high shrubs that have rusted to golden Fall colors.

The weather changed quickly and often from cloudy to big blue skies, changing the colors of Mt. Massive dramatically. I did not make the decent down from the vista to Native Lake but could see it on the valley floor at the foot of Mt. Massive. It's truly deserving of its name; the peak and the Continental Divide that disappears behind Mt. Massive are massive against a bright blue sky.

If the weather forecast was better, I would have stayed on this vista longer. There was a mild breeze and it was very peaceful. I only ran across one couple at the vista. A very peaceful day in The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness - on this Family Friendly trail.


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AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness10
Eagles Nest Wilderness10
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness12
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness3
Indian Peaks Wilderness17
James Peak Wilderness1
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness2
Pike National Forest1
Raggeds Wilderness1
Rocky Mountain National Park41
San Isabel National Forest6
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness2
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

TRAILS BY MONTH

January3
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October6
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SEASONS ON THE TRAIL

2021

The 2021 Season has started. Though the pandemic created a challenging 2020 season, I am looking forward to building on the 2020 season to create an incredible 2021 season. The pandemic has taught me a few things about when and where to go hiking. As such planning for the 2021 se...

2020

The 2020 hiking season has been incredible, even in the face of adversity. The pandemic has made for a logistically challenging season. Somehow, I was still able to piece together an incredible 230+ miles on the trail this season and able to see some truly spectacular places. Enj...

2019

The 2019 hiking season was an interesting season, this was the first season that I started and ended the season snowshoeing and a full summer of hiking for a total of just under 225 miles on the trail. What this season has taught me is that it's winter in the mountains for a long...

2018

The 2018 Summer Hiking Season has come to an end. What a season, incredible views and just over 230 miles on the trail. Even with 230 miles, this season seems short to me, perhaps I'll add something to it during the winter season - snowshoeing perhaps. In the meantime, I hope you...

2017

The 2017 hiking season was interesting, I was able to explorer more of Colorado's National Forests and get in some camping, not as much camping as I would have liked, but hopefully next year I'll able to get in more multi-day hikes. This season came in just under 129 miles roundt...

2016

The 2016 hiking season was about spreading out and exploring more of Eagles Nest Wilderness, Indian Peaks Wilderness and touching on White River National Forest - and of course a few trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. These are amazing National treasures. This season came i...

2015

The 2015 hiking season was a big hiking season, I decided to do a fundraiser for The Red Cross (I learned a lot about fundraising - it was very interesting) with my pledge to hike over 200 miles for this season, I came in at 217 miles for the season; what a great time out on the ...

2014

The 2014 hiking season was almost all about exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, it really is a beautiful park. What I learned during the course of this hiking season is, although people may roll their eyes when you say you're going on a hike in RMNP, it really is spectacular ...

2013

2013 is the year this all started. The hike to Pitkin Lake started it all. Although it was a difficult trail, I was hooked immediately. However, I didn't have the right gear and the seasons were changing quickly. So, even though this season only brought two hikes, I new this was ...