Friday, July 16, 2010

Lost Lake (near Vail)

Distance: 7 miles round trip
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

Lost Lake near Vail Colorado is a great hike for dogs
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.

While mostly in the pines, the trail did contain some Aspen
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.

A blanket of Heartleaf Arnica
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.

A trail segment after the big views showing a young pine forest
Two trail segments showing the pine forest and easy-going dirt trail

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.

The view of the Gore Range from part-way down the small hill
The turn off to the lake
The lake itself does not have any dramatic background, but it was incredibly serene. There were large logs to sit on and eat lunch, and the seclusion was only marred by the occasional Jay trying to get to our sandwiches.

Views of Lost Lake

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.


Linda said...

Oh go on, frolick. And repeat after me, "I am not middle aged." (even if it's technically true).

What about these storms you mention - are they a daily happening at this time of year? Do they build up in the afternoon? Curious again.

PS some smaller Scottish mountains chez moi this week.

sylvia murphy said...

Hi Linda,

The storms are thunderstorms. They have a tendency to occur daily and bathe the upper peaks in lightening. I have had several "blessed be" (translate that into whichever explicative you prefer) moments scurrying down to treeline myself. Not fun.

Parts of the year can be totally dry while during the summer monsoon, the storms can really occur daily.

The rule of thumb is to be off the mountain by 1PM which means many folks climbing 14ers start between 4 and 7 am. We are a hardy (foolish?) lot here!