Lost Lake Nordic

Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9765 - 10,139 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Jumbo Reservoir
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic winter wonderland

The Lost Lake trail is located in the Mesa Lakes area of the Grand Mesa National Forest near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Mesa Lakes Shoreline trail where it climbs through the forest to South Mesa Lake and then up and over a divide to the secluded pocket that holds Lost Lake. With about 557 feet of overall elevation gain the Lost Lake trail is a great wintertime workout in a beautiful setting.

The Highway Department keeps the parking area open at Jumbo Reservoir to accommodate the many visitors that want to access the nordic trails around the Mesa Lakes area. The one alternative is to park at Mesa Lodge and begin from there. Mesa Lodge rents snowshoes and cross country skies as well as serving up a pretty good bowl of chili, hamburgers and other things.

During the summer months we could simply drive to the Glacier Springs trailhead and begin hiking from there but since the roads are all snowed in this time of the year the alternative is to begin at Jumbo Reservoir, (or Mesa Lodge), and find your way from there. For this post we crossed the dam and then cut through the Jumbo Campground to get on the road.

From the campground the road leads along the east shore of Sunset Lake. Stay to the right near the inlet. The left fork leads to the lodge.

The Glacier Springs trailhead is just under 1 mile from Jumbo Reservoir. Keep going past the parking area toward the south side of the lake.

There are trail signs on the south side of the dam that point the way to Lost Lake. The right fork at this spot is for the Glacier Springs Cutoff trail.

Follow the Mesa Lake Shoreline trail to the point where the Lost Lake trail begins. This is about 1.06 miles from where we began at Jumbo Reservoir.

The easy to follow trail makes a gentle climb through the forest. The first part of the trail is in perpetual shade during the winter but the sun manages to peek through the trees a bit as the trail approaches South Mesa Lake.

At 1.31 miles from Jumbo Reservoir the trail reaches South Mesa Lake where the elevation is now at 10,015 feet.

The trail travels east along the north shore of the lake. At the end of the lake the trail turns toward the southwest and begins climbing the side of the mountain over the divide between South Mesa Lake and Lost Lake. At this point some sections of the trail are a bit steeper but all in all it isn't too bad.

Even though most people turn around at South Mesa Lake there are generally enough that continue past there to make a good trail to follow. A good high wind can drift it shut in nothing flat though.

At the top of the divide the trail descends about 90 feet in elevation to the lake and the turnaround point. An interesting thing about Lost Lake is that it doesn't have a surface stream that runs out of it. It would eventually fill the pocket it sits in if water wasn't able to seep through the basalt boulders to escape.

Sunset Lake is a great place to do a some ice fishing. One thing to note is that as the lake freezes water flowing into the lake can run over the top of the ice and form a layer of slush. What you can end up with is a layer of slush sandwiched between two layers of ice. It can make for some rotten conditions at times so exercise care when venturing out.

Since Lost Lake will take you away from the rest of the people around Mesa Lakes it is a good idea to make a little extra preparation. We have a little 'Go bag' that we carry a couple of days worth of food in with a fire starter and some other items. Of course, we have our GPS with 2 extra batteries and we could always use our SPOT communicator to request Search and Rescue but the whole idea of needing someone else to carry me off the mountain doesn't sound like my cup of tea. For some good winter fun Lost Lake might just be your cup of tea. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.