Hope Lake

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 5 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 10,734 - 11,911 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 5 hrs.
Trailhead: Hope Lake
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic alpine lake




The Hope Lake trail is located in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Telluride, Colorado. The trail begins in Poverty Gulch off of Forest Road #627, in the Trout Lake area. It starts out climbing at a gentle angle through a forest of confers until it reaches a memorable series of switchbacks that take it above treeline and into the open alpine meadows that grace the slopes leading up to Lake Hope. Oddly enough it is the Hope Lake trail that does indeed lead to Lake Hope.


To get to the trailhead measure 10 miles from the roundabout on Highway 145 near Telluride and turn left onto the Trout Lake Road which is marked by a brown Forest Service sign for Priest Lake. Follow the dirt road around the east side of Trout Lake for 1.7 miles to where the Hope Lake Road branches off on the left.


Continue on the Hope Lake Road for 2.5 miles to the trailhead. The trailhead can become very congested on weekends but there is room for a lot of vehicles along the road and in an overflow area nearby.


The trail begins with a gradual ascent on a path along the side of the mountain that is about as pleasant as a trail can be.


The trail makes a little dip as it crosses the drainage at the head of Poverty Gulch. A little past that it gives up another 60 feet or so of elevation gain before starting to climb again.


As the trail continues it comes out in the open at times offering splendid views of the surrounding mountains and glimpses of Trout Lake far below.


A little before the 1.4 mile point the climbing accelerates with the trail gaining around 900 feet of elevation over the next mile.


Numerous switchbacks help to moderate the climb.


The trail levels off for the last quarter mile or so as it works its way around a knob where Lake Hope comes into view in a basin below San Miguel Peak (13,752 feet). The trail continues past Lake Hope for another couple of miles for those that would like to cross the ridge that is around 12,500 feet and drop down to South Mineral Creek. It should only be another half mile if all you want to do is get to the ridge and take in the views.


The colorful Vermillion Peak (13,894 ft.) is captivating from the Hope Lake trail as the sun and the clouds play together to create an ever changing display of shadows and colors. Just on the other side of that ridge are Ice Lake, Island Lake and Fuller Lake although you can't get exactly get to them from here.


The Hope Lake trail also provides one of the best views of the Wilson Group of 14ers that we have had the pleasure of seeing.


As you can see from all of the vehicles strung out along the road near the trailhead the Hope Lake trail is extremely popular. We were told by a few of the locals that the present level of water in the lake is the lowest they had ever seen it get. Those that aren't what we call 'Colorado fit' and accustomed to hiking at high elevations might need to plan on taking an hour or so longer than what we are showing. It is always better to start as early as possible to avoid the lightning that comes with the afternoon thunderstorms that are common in July and August. Also when hiking above timberline you can expect much cooler temperatures. Up here it can snow any day of the year. Besides all the natural beauty of the area the cooler temperatures are one of the things that make a trail like Hope Lake the perfect summer destination. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.