Round Trip Distance: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate (primitive trail)
Elevation: 10,043 - 10,213 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs
Start: 11:00 End: 12:30 Elapsed: 1 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Griffith Lake Trail
Attractions: Wildlife, wildflowers, alpine forest
View Griffith Lake in a larger map
Griffith Lake is located in the Grand Mesa National Forest between the Mesa Lakes and Lake of the Woods areas. Water from the lake passes from Griffith Lake into Mid Griffith Lake and then into West Griffith Lake which drains into Coon Creek.The area around the Griffith Lakes is a year round home for moose and during the warmer months the area is home for deer and bear.
The turnout for the Griffith Lake trail is just before the hairpin corner, where Highway 65 makes its final climb to the top of the mesa, and the turnoff for the Lake of the Woods trailhead. The only indication of the trail is this post that sits just off the pavement.
The trail doesn't look like it has had any maintenance done in quite some time. In the spots where there are fallen trees the paths around the trees appear to be as well established as the original trail was.
It is only about a tenth of a mile from the pavement, down the hill, to Griffith Lake. I didn't see any obvious trails going in either direction around the lake. Looking around it appeared that about half of the shoreline looked like it would be pretty easy hiking. I wanted to walk all the way around the lake so I took on the toughest looking section first and headed around the east shoreline.
The lack of trail around the east side of the lake made for a pretty tough hike. The ground close to the lake was too soft and mucky to walk in so I moved up into the trees. There were enough beer cans that I could tell that other people were going the same way.
The east side of the lake wasn't at all pleasant to hike but there were a lot of fresh moose tracks and twice I could hear animals thrashing around in the trees. Of course, I don't know for sure what kind of animal was making the noise, breaking branches and such, but all the fresh tracks looked like moose. There was some fairly recent bear scat but I didn't see much in the way of tracks.
While crossing the dam there was a nice view down to Mid Griffith Lake. There was a game trail heading that way with several fresh moose tracks.
There was an actual trail along the west side of the lake. The hiking along the west shoreline was about as good as it gets anywhere. I saw several areas that I will probably come back and investigate further at some time.
The south shoreline was the same tough going as the east side. All the ground that you can see in the picture was pretty soft. I had to retreat back up into the trees and make my own trail. My GPS came in handy to find the spot where I needed to head back up the hill to the highway.
I don't post most of the hikes that I do when there is no well established trail to follow. This hike does have a trail marker and there is a paved pullout along the highway and that is enough to lure a hiker. It lured me anyway, not that it takes that much, and if you have ever been curious about the trail maybe this information will help. If you like roughing it a bit then you probably won't mind the lack of good trail that much. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.