We had been anticipating the arrival of the weekend because we had been planning a new hike near Nederland, CO. The quest was really two-fold: a new adventure into the trails on the east side of the continental divide and the Roosevelt National Forest, followed by dinner at Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse. We started the weekend off with our typical espresso beverages, paired with blueberry bread. Aspen had been antsy all morning and kept pressing us to get moving. Once her car harness is put on, she is always ready to go. With the temps hovering in the mid to low 30’s, it was going to be a great fall hike!
Once we had arrived, we parked at the Hessie Trailhead where there appeared to be quite a few vehicles, although I could see parking being even more of a challenge in the middle of the summer. A good plan would be to arrive early or plan on taking a shuttle bus from Eldora to the trailhead. If you are more adventurous and have a high clearance vehicle you could fjord the river and find a slightly closer parking space near the actual trailhead. This would shave about a half mile off your journey to Lost Lake.
Just as we left the parking area, we first trekked through a wooded trail paralleling a riverbed. The area once housed gold mining operations, and is home to the historic Hessie Townsite. From there, the Hessie Trailhead was comprised entirely of rock, seemingly a combination of road and riverbed during the spring runoff. Crossing a bridge over Middle Boulder Creek, we arrived at the trailhead located just to the southeast of the Never Summer Wilderness. One striking difference we had noticed almost immediately was the lack of beetle kill on the trees versus other parts of the Rockies. To see a mountainside comprised of full-bodied, dark green trees is truly a beautiful (and rare) sight.
From that point, the trail became more of a combination of rock and dirt; however, due to the elevation and cooler temps, it was also covered in a thin veil of snow. We continued our trek along the trail crossing a bridge over Jasper Creek. The flowing waters created unique ice sculptures on the rocks above the waterline. I quickly snapped a few photos from above and below the bridge before we continued onward to Lost Lake. Continuing our steady climb, we had crossed a small creek outflowing from Lost Lake. Happening upon a junction in the trail, we kept left and made the final push onto our final destination.
The views from the northern end of Lost Lake were spectacular, and the majority of the lake’s surface was already frozen over. The only thing from Aspen’s perspective, however, was to figure out how break through the ice and go swimming in the water! But, we had to tell her no. After getting a few quick pictures, we headed south along the trail. There were about eight first-come-first-served tenting campsites dispersed along the eastern shore. Our plan was to hike the full loop around the lake. However, the trail past the last campsite seemed to lead further south, and maybe on to a distant peak or pass. Instead, we ventured out onto a bluff over looking the southern end of the lake before determining to turn around and head back down. Later, we discovered that there is a trail that does hug the shoreline around the lake, but we just didn’t see it.
Reversing course, we began our hiking back down with Aspen leading the way with such vigor! One would think that she was two years old, and not going on 12.5 years young. We are ever so grateful that she has retained her puppy spirit and stamina. We only wish that our beautiful Goldie could still be here with us. In her younger years, she loved to hike in the fall. But back to the trek… Unlike the trek up, it would have been a good idea to have had traction devices such as the Yaktrax Icetrekkers or trekking poles because those would have made the descent a bit easier due to the snow on the rocks.
Stella and I would rate this hike on the easier side of moderate, gaining 10,000 feet in elevation as we climbed the trail south of the campsites. Roundtrip, our trek was just over 5.5 miles, with a total gain in elevation of 1,005 feet. Deciding that we were going to return later in the winter to snowshoe, we carefully watched the distance from our parking spot to the paved portion of the road. That would tack on roughly an additional mile to the snowshoe trek depending how far in one is able to get down the the road in the winter months (the road is not plowed). Overall, that was a great hike! The drive alone up from Boulder through the canyon was worth the trip. And to spend time outdoors on a beautiful fall day with Stella and Aspen on a new adventure was priceless.
The reward for that day’s adventure was an artisan wood fired pizza from Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse located in Nederland. Stella and I had found this pizza joint after cross country skiing last year at Eldora Mountain. The pizza could fairly be compared to a pizza place in Fish Creek, WI called Wild Tomato, which we dearly miss. But, Crosscut Pizzeria certainly comes in as a ‘runner up’ in our book! At Crosscut Pizzeria, we shared a salad & the Mario Pizza, minus the Clyde’s sausage. The salad & pizza were fantastic, and we can’t wait to eat there again. I am uncertain if one could actually find better pizza in Colorado.