Elevation: 9,611 ft - 10,323 ft (max), 10,200 ft (at the lake)
Elevation Gain: 712 ft (net) 1,082 ft (cumulative)
Dogs: Off Leash
|Serene Lost Lake|
In my eternal quest to find Forest Service trails where we can let Ginger, the hyper one, run off leash, I discovered Lost Lake (one of the many with that name in the state) above Vail. The route to the trailhead alone was fun as it travels up a bumpy dirt road on the north side of Vail Valley. Wildflowers covered the green hillsides and verdant meadows appeared out of no where along the way.
|Heartleaf Arnica and Lupine|
The trail itself traverses a ridge covered in Ponderosa Pines and occasionally Aspen. Having never done the trail before I was fearful there would be no views but this is not true. At 1.8 miles, there is a social trail heading off to the right with deep-sigh views of the Mount of the Holy Cross. It looked much larger from this vantage point than it did from Game Creek, which I found very interesting because I could see the Game Creek area across the valley. A little farther up the main trail, and there is an area of clear cut that also allows you this view.
|Looking southeast at the Mount of the Holy Cross|
I was enthralled by the carpet of Heartleaf Arnica and Lupine that blanketed the stark forest floor with blinding color. With all that yellow, the dead Ponderosas were hardly noticeable. My Id wanted to romp through them with wild abandon, but alas I figured the sight of a middle-aged woman frolicking in flowers would scare the local wildlife.
There is a small (200 ft elevation gain) hump in the middle of the trail. The descent from this small hill provides phenomenal views of the back side of the Gore Range. That was another pleasant surprise.
All in all, Lost Lake is a pleasant excursion particularly on a day when getting above treeline is problematic. That was another reason I chose this trail. The storms were going to start early. If you do go to Lost Lake, be sure to take the additional 15 minute drive and visit Piney Lake. The scenery there will knock your socks off.