Island Lake Trail

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 10,224 - 10,267 feet
Cellphone: 0-1 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Island Lake Campground
Fee: $6/vehicle to park at campground or fishing area.
Attractions: Forest hike, fishing




The Island Lake trail is located in the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail closely follows the south shoreline of Island Lake from the Island Lake campground to Highway 65. Most of the trail has been in place for many years but it has recently been reconstructed by the Forest Service and many of the sections of trail that were once somewhat difficult to hike are now smooth and flat. Island Lake is a popular fishing destination on the Grand Mesa.


There is a trailhead at each end of the Island Lake trail. Parking is more readily available near the east trailhead on Highway 65 and near the Grand Mesa Visitor Center. This post begins at the west trailhead near the Island Lake campground. The Island Lake campground is also relatively new. Electrical hookups are available at some of its sites.


Tall stands of trees along the lake filter the sunlight providing an abundance of shade. Temperatures here can be as much as 30 degrees cooler than the surrounding valleys.


Two sections of trail that are wheelchair accessible make it easier for everyone to have a place to fish. This spot is near the fishermen parking area and boat ramp where there is also a restroom, drinking fountain and fish cleaning station.


The trail seems to disappear at the boat ramp and fishermen parking area but you can pick it up again by following the path across the dam.


As the trail comes to the Little Bear campground stay to the left and continue along the shoreline.


The trail becomes paved for a short distance at the wheelchair accessible section near Little Bear campground.


The island that gives the lake its name is near the east end of the lake. When the water is high the island appears to be two separate islands.


The east trailhead is just across the highway from Cobbett Lake and the Visitor Center. It doesn't cost anything to park near the east trailhead. Fees are only charged for parking at the campgrounds and fishermen parking area near the boat ramp. An additional fee is charged for each campsite and the price varies by location and whether there are electrical hookups.


With keen eyes a boat dock can be spied across the lake along the north shoreline. Here you will find row boats, canoes and maybe even a paddle boat. These can be rented from the folks at Grand Mesa Lodge. The lodge has a small convenience store and they also rent cabins and rooms. During the winter months they rent snowmobiles and also do tours making this a year round destination.


The lake has 3 species of fish, rainbow trout, white suckers, and splake. A splake is a cross between a female lake trout and a brook trout. The state record, that was almost 19 pounds, was caught from these waters.


You might also be able to spot one of the long tailed weasels that make their home in the area. They don't seem to like standing still and posing much for the camera but we managed to get a few shots of one anyway.


Island Lake is one of the most beautiful places that you will see anywhere. The Grand Mesa seems to have more than its share of majestically scenic lakes. Families with small children will find the trail perfect for hiking. The mosquitoes can be very thick during the early summer months at various points along the trail but a little bug spray works great for keeping them at bay. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.