1. Hessie Trailhead
This may be a little daunting for some, but if you have a high clearance vehicle, you can scoot past the crowds parked in the limited roadside space at the 4th of July junction and take the left fork down into the cobblestone creek bed. After driving through Middle Boulder Creek, continue along the road to the small parking lot at the end. The water can be deep in early summer, but drains down later in the season. A footbridge over the next creek is the start of your hike. Otherwise, park with the masses and start hoofing the half mile to the Hessie Trailhead.
2. Lost Lake
Only one and a half miles in, Lost Lake is easy access if you’re getting a jump on the weekend by starting Friday after work. There are seven designated campsites; the nicest is the most remote on the southwest side of the lake. Set up camp and kick back and enjoy your first night away from the hubbub of work and home.
3. King Lake
Here’s the thing with thunderstorms are known to form in the afternoon in this area in the summer. If you get an early start out of Lost Lake you’re timing will be well suited to punch past King Lake and onto and over the Continental Divide before a storm starts to brew. If you’re looking for a more leisurely itinerary consider making this Camp II and explore the nearby ponds and beautiful cirques. If you are feeling ambitious, have a good headlamp, and the weather is favorable, then crank out the 5.4-mile, 2,400-foot vertical gain to get here for your first night.
4. The Divide
If you opted to camp at King Lake (good call!), you’ll probably have the 2.5 miles along the divide to yourself the next morning and the amazing views of James Peak to the south, Corona Lake right below you as you crest the divide, and the magnificent Gore Range to the west. Take your time. After all, it’s all downhill from here.
Climbers on this route will be eyeing this famed jut of rock. Routes range from a single pitch 5.4 to a 4-pitch 5.10a. The 1,000-foot exposure to Devil’s Lake below and the pristine nature (no bolts or pitons needed) makes this tower climb a favorite. There are plenty of chockstones at the summit to enable your descent. Mind the weather.
6. Devil’s Thumb Lake
For those punching over the divide instead of camping at King Lake, this is where you’ll want to stay that night. As is true with all backcountry camps, your tent site must be 100 feet from all lakes, streams and trails. From the lake, you’re only 5.5 miles from the car. Well done!
Camping permits are required June 1 – September 15 from the Boulder Ranger District (303-541-2500).