- Date hiked: 08/08/2021
- Hiked from: Colorado River Trailhead
- Distance hiked: 14.21 miles round trip
- Total elevation gain: 2,779 ft
- Maintained trail: There is a maintained trail until the last 3/4 of a mile, then it’s boulder hopping.
- Overall Difficulty: 7/10 – It’s a pretty long and steep day hike. Lots of boulder hopping at the end. Route finding can be tricky but with the right path it’s not that bad.
- Overall Views: 7/10 – It’s an amazing, rocky alpine lake. There’s a great chance you will get to enjoy the up close views of Mount Cirrus and Howard Mountain in peace.
Hiked to Lake of the Clouds mid summer. This one has been on my bucket list for a long time, mostly because I really like the name of the lake. It’s the western most lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, and only one of two named lakes in the Never Summer Mountain area of the park.
Lake of the Clouds Hike Video
The hike begins at the Colorado River trailhead. Which is right near the part of Trail Ridge Road that closes during winter. In most cases, this trailhead should be open. Bad winter conditions may shut it down though. Follow the sign to the Red Mountain trail. Where you will cross the famous Colorado River on a well built bridge. Follow the rocky trail for a few miles, crossing the Opposition Creek, and hiking up to the Grand Ditch.
Walk down the relatively even road for about 2 miles until you see the small log bridge. Cross over and look for the trail sign for Lake of the Clouds. There is also a campsite this way, reservations only.
Hike up the trail for about a mile and enjoy the scenery of the Never Summer Mountain range when you reach the meadow. The hike steepens here and this is right before you reach the massive boulder field.
The boulder field is massive and it’s pretty easy to get lost or go up the wrong path. Aim for the waterfall and stay way to the north of it. There’s routes out there, like on Alltrails, that will lead you up through some pretty tough class 2 climbing. There’s no need for this though. It’s a pretty easy boulder hop if you just stay north of the waterfall and south of Mount Cirrus’s ridge.
Right before reaching Lake of the Clouds is probably the prettiest views of the hike. Lead mountain and a defined saddle to some unnamed 12,000 ft+ peak.
When we reached Lake of the Clouds it was incredibly windy. We were still greeted by a small group of friend marmots, and one other hiker. The only one we saw on the way up.
It would be pretty fun to navigate around the lake but we knew we had a long (but not too difficult) hike back to the trailhead. Plus the wind was borderline brutal on this day.
Snapped several photos and shot some video footage and decided to call it a day. We were thinking about returning via the Grand Ditch to Lulu city but we were crunched on time and didn’t want to hike the extra 2-4 miles that may have added. In the future though Lulu city is on the radar.