Sunset Lake Nordic Loop

Round Trip Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9774 - 9846 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 1 hr. 20 mins.
Trailhead: Jumbo Reservoir
Fee: none
Attractions: Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing

Sunset Lake is in the Mesa Lakes Area of the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. By combining sections of several trails with the Summer Homes Road a loop can be formed around Sunset Lake for an easy Nordic trail. The changes in elevation are minor which makes it ideal for snowshoeing. This route takes you away from the crowds that are generally around the Mesa Lakes Nordic area.

In January sunlight doesn't hit the Jumbo Reservoir trailhead until after 9am. For our pictures to show any detail we have to wait for there to be enough light.

We began by following the West Bench trail until we made it across the dam.

After crossing the dam we left the trail and headed up to the road that leads into the campground.

From there we followed the road out of the campground to the road that leads to Sunset Lake. The road coming out of the trees is the old Grand Mesa Road and that is the route we will come back on.

Next we crossed the bridge over the spillway and on across the dam. We have gone ice fishing on several occasions on Sunset Lake and always managed to do well. We usually fish along the east bank. The ice can get a layer or two of slush on it from water that runs over the ice after the initial freeze. It makes it spooky to walk out on so we leave our snowshoes on while we are fishing. The fish aren't very picky either. They hit salmon eggs and lures tipped with mealworms pretty regularly.

Mesa Creek usually has open water even on the coldest of days. It makes for a postcard perfect winter scene.

After crossing the dam, rather than following the West Bench trail to the right, we continued straight ahead through the trees and got on the Summer Homes Road.

The Summer Homes Road makes a very gentle uphill climb as it arcs around the west side of Sunset Lake.

A dozen or so cabins line the sides of the road. They look very picturesque in the snow.

The road continues looping around until it is heading almost east and comes to an end near the Glacier Springs trailhead.

From there we followed the road leading away from Glacier Springs and took the trail up to Mesa Lakes Lodge.

On the east side of Mesa Lakes Lodge we made our way around the equipment they had parked there and got onto the section of the old Grand Mesa Road that leads through the trees toward Jumbo Reservoir.

When we got to the truck we drove back over to the Mesa Lakes Lodge and had a hot bowl of chilli. We could have parked at the lodge and began snowshoeing from there. It would have shortened the outing by over a half mile or more. At times moose can be seen around the Mesa Lakes area but on this outing we didn't even see any fresh tracks. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.