© DuranGO Outdoors
Hope Lake Trail Are you looking for a moderate hike that will take you to a high mountain lake? Do you like hikes above timberline surrounded by massive peaks and carpets of wildflowers? Well then there is hope for you. Lake Hope that is. The Hope Lake trail is a wonderful and very popular hike that sits in the San Juan Mountains right between Mineral Creek on the Silverton Colorado side and just above Trout Lake on the Telluride Colorado side.  In fact, you can get to Hope Lake from either side by following the trail of your choice and making the lake your destination. Another popular trip is to make the hike as a shuttle (using two vehicles) where you start at one side and through hike down to the bottom of the other and take the second vehicle back to the first. This trail is rated as a solid moderate and you will get an average elevation gain of about 1,900 feet during the hike. Your highest point is at the top of the pass above the lake 12,458' and your starting elevations are about 10,700'. The distance to the lake is the same from either side which is about 2.44 miles and both sides are fairly rocky and moderately steep.  This trail is at a fairly high altitude but it is common to see people of all ability levels including children hiking it. It's a little less than five miles round trip which makes it very appealing to people of intermediate levels and above. Since this hike is so popular, beautiful and easy to get to, quite a few people visit it every day especially during the weekend. The busiest trailhead tends to be on the Trout Lake (Telluride) side and parking can get a bit tight during peak season (July & August). Even though the trail is only about 2 ½ miles give yourself at least two hours at a leisurely pace to reach the lake.  The road leading up to the trailhead on the Trout Lake (Telluride side) is fairly rough and is best suited for an OHV. From the Mineral Creek side the road is a fairly well maintained rough gravel road. Both roads can get muddy in the spring or after a good rain. When to Hike to Hope Lake? As with most trails above timberline your window of opportunity is short and can vary based on snowpack accumulated during the winter. Generally the season is late June through September with occasional opportunities into October. Expect short afternoon rains during the monsoon season which is usually Late July through August and it can snow above timberline at any time of the year so always bring rain gear and extra clothes. Getting an early start in the morning is a good idea to try and avoid the rains and the crowds. Did You Know? Lake Hope is actually a man made reservoir built in the early 1900's that is one of the main sources of water for the Ames Hydroelectric Power Plant located near Ophir Colorado! The Ames Power Plant came online in 1891 providing the first industrialized AC current electricity and setting the standard of AC current in the United States today. Water from Hope Lake flows down into Trout Lake and then directed into a penstock (big pipe) for over 2 ½ miles to the Ames Hydroelectric Plant where the electricity is generated. Awesome piece of history that is still generating electricity to this day! Activities around Hope Lake.  The Hope Lake trail in itself is worth the hike to get there but more things await the adventurer once you reach your destination.  Fishing is a HUGE attraction with clear waters showing large schools of the native cutthroat trout that bring anglers out to test their skills on landing a big one. Wildflowers and photography opportunities that are absolutely amazing will keep professional and amateur busy for days.  Hikes above the lake like the saddle (top of the pass) summit of Mineral Creek, offer some spectacular views. You can also reach the trailheads to climb 13,752' San Miguel Peak and 13,342' Beattie Peak from the Hope Lake area. Mountain climbers should seek further information for class levels of these peaks before attempting a summit.  Many people bring their kids on the Hope Lake trail because it offers a good challenge that might be the next level in making them a good strong hiker in the future. It has tons of natural beauty and interesting wildlife to keep kids attention and wear them out in a great way! Camping for backpackers is available and there are some spectacular sites near the lake. Be sure to pack in pack out and try to find a place that has already been utilized in order to minimize impact on the delicate high mountain tundra. You should camp at least 300 feet away from all lakes and streams and be bear aware with your camping practices. Since you will be above timberline there will be minimal or no wood to burn so plan on bringing food that does not need to be cooked or pack in your own cooking stove. Camping is available in primitive sites above Trout lake, Priest Lake campground (fees may apply) near trout Lake and the Mineral Creek Campground (fees may apply) on the Silverton Colorado side.  Conservation and minimal impact. Since Hope Lake is so popular and is visited by so many people it is VERY important that everybody have the courtesy to pick up after themselves and their pets. Pack in and Pack out is critical and staying on the trail is very important in order to avoid damage to plant life or causing erosion. This trail remains beautiful because people like you care enough to keep it that way. "One of our personal top five" Hope Lake Trail is magnificent in many ways. Surrounded by massive mountains, deep blue waters, carpets of wildflowers, majestic waterfalls and views to the horizon. There is Hope for us all!
logotype Hope Lake 	Photographer:  James Hobby logotype
Photographer:  James Hobby  Trail summit at 12,458 feet