Kroenke Lake

July 28, 2019 · Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

What a beautiful hike in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. This is a pretty easy trail for coming out to 12 miles roundtrip. The first two miles are shared with the trail to the 14er - Mt. Harvard, so the trail is very well-worn and basically flat. After the split to Mt. Harvard the trail is less worn but still pretty flat, though there a couple of moderate inclines all the way up to Kroenke Lake. The trail does get steep if you go up behind Kroenke Lake and onto Brown's Pass. And Kroenke Lake is spectacular from the shoreline and from high above.

The lake has a small island in the middle and viewing the lake from above gives a very different perspective of the lake and the island in it. I believe the island in the lake is the result of one or more rockslides from millions of years ago during the last ice-age melt; about 2.6 million years ago...give or take a million years. The Spring runoff is finally beginning to subside and while the rivers are still very full and fast moving, they don't sound like freight trains, and are clear and you can see the copper color riverbeds now. They are beautiful to look and soothing to listen to on this gentle hike.

Since the trail to Kroenke Lake is shared with the trail to 14er Mt. Harvard, parking at the small trailhead is complicated and fills up very fast. A 4WD vehicle is strongly recommended to get to the trailhead. While the road is not a crazy over-the-top 4WD road it will do damage to an in-city vehicle. Driving this road in the Jeep was a lot of fun.

It was a beautiful sunny day for the entire hike with a light gentle breeze for most of the hike. The wind did pick up a little once above treeline and above Kroenke Lake. With the late snows and the late Spring thaw everything is so very green along the trail. I can't remember a hiking season with everything being so lush and green. Granted mid-to-late July and all of August usually have the most "Wow! Look at the view!" factor, but this is amazing.

The snow has finally thinned out enough that you won't be on snow once get above 11,300 feet, which is great. It makes it feel like Summer hiking when you don't get snow in your hiking boots in July. However, there were a few patches of snow along the side of the trail above treeline and it just didn't seem right to not step on some snow for this Summer hiking season.

Hopefully that is the last of being on snow until October. That's just 60 days away. It feels like the Summer hiking season has been compressed and now that the trails look like Summer trails I'm reminded of a line from a great movie, Never Cry Wolf ~ "...As the time grows short, I'm reluctant to even sleep, for fear of missing something." At best, only 15 more Summer hikes this season. It doesn't seem like there is enough time to get to everything I had hoped for this Summer hiking season.

However, I remind myself of something I heard from a local on this trail at the split to Mt. Harvard. It was pretty early in the day and he was on his way back down from Kroenke Lake. I had asked him how long he had been out. And his response was classic, "...When I got to this part of the trail, I left my mind here and went up that trail." Pointing to Kroenke Lake. "But I was supposed to go up that trail." Pointing to Mt. Harvard. "But it's okay, Mt. Harvard will still be there." ...Yes, it will still be there. But I have a lot of trail I want to see this Summer.

I didn't see many people on the way to Kroenke Lake, but I did encounter a lot of people coming down in the morning from camping the previous night. Unfortunately, many of them did not have a "We had a great time!" look on their faces. It had rained heavy the night before; you could tell by the texture of the trail; they must have been mini rivers the night before.

Just before reaching Kroenke Lake I thought to myself, this would be an excellent place to camp. However, the mosquitoes are super thick, even on the windward side of the lake. I can't image how bad they are on the leeward side of the lake. They are so thick in places it looks like cotton in the breeze. Even though I thought I did a pretty good job of covering myself with insect repellent, they managed to find the three spots I missed - my left wrist and just behind my left ear. However, the worst bug bite was just above my lip on the left side of my face. It swelled up and felt like a nonvaccine shot from the dentist.

Aside from the famous 14ers in the area, including Mt. Harvard, Mt. Columbia and Mt. Yale, one of the best named peaks overlooks Kroenke Lake, it is called Birthday Peak. So, if you have a Summer birthday, you should go to Birthday Peak and have...a power bar. I suspect anything sweeter would attract unwelcomed four-legged visitors.

It was a beautiful 12-mile hike with perfect weather, and even though the first part of the trail is shared with a trail to a 14er, it was a very peaceful hike. The only reason why I would not call this hike easy is that 12 miles roundtrip can be a bit challenging for some and the push above Kroenke Lake will wake you up.


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AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness9
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 Wilderness1
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

TRAILS BY MONTH

January3
February2
March2
April3
May5
June16
July26
August26
September27
October5
November4
December3

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 ...