Anderson/Petroleum Lakes

Round Trip Distance: 4.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 11,194 - 12,306 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Petroleum/Anderson
Fee: none
Attractions: Alpine lakes

The Anderson/Petroleum Lakes trail is in the White River National Forest east of Aspen, Colorado. Beginning off of the Lincoln Creek Road, at an elevation already around 11,200 feet, the trail climbs along Anderson Creek for one mile where it reaches Anderson Lake which sits in a scenic basin just above timberline. From there the trail continues up the alpine tundra for another mile to a higher scenic basin where Petroleum Lake sits at an elevation around 12,300 feet.

To get to the trailhead drive east from Aspen on CO-82 for 10 miles and turn right onto the Lincoln Creek Road which requires a high clearance vehicle. Follow the Lincoln Creek road for 6.4 miles to the Lincoln Portal Campground.

It will take a 4wd to make it the remaining 3.4 miles from the Portal Campground to the Anderson/Petroleum Lakes trailhead.

The trail starts out climbing an old 4wd road making it pretty easy to hike as it gradual climbs up the drainage along Anderson Creek.

After passing the ruins of the third cabin along the trail the route becomes a little more primitive. As the trail passes above timberline the rocky crags of Anderson Peak (13,631 ft.) begin coming into view.

On this day a few fish could be seen jumping as we approached the placid Anderson Lake where near the middle of July the morning temperature was hovering just above freezing.

From Anderson Lake the trail cuts across the alpine tundra and wraps around the shoulder of the mountain to the drainage below Petroleum Lake.

After passing by an unnamed lake in a basin below Larson Peak (12,908 ft.) the trail makes a steep but short climb that serves as the final assault to Petroleum Lake.

Looking over the east end of Petroleum Lake Anderson Peak can be seen once again.

The high point of the ridge looking in the other direction is Petroleum Peak (13,505 ft.). The ridgeline above Petroleum Lake serves as the boundary between Pitkin and Gunnison Counties as well as the National Forest boundary and the Wilderness boundary. There is a trail that climbs higher above the lake where the surrounding views are said to be worth the effort but on this day smoke from California wildfires was too thick to encourage the prospects.

On the return trip there is a nice view of the unnamed lake as you look back down the trail from Petroleum Lake where across the valley on the left is Grizzly Peak, which at an elevation of 13,988 feet just missed landing on the list of Colorado 14ner's. To the right is Garfield Peak at 13,731 feet.

We saw fish jumping in all the lakes including the unnamed one. The only fishermen that we saw were at Anderson Lake. On the drive in we had stopped to look at the 'Frenchman's Cabin c. 1894'. From there it wasn't much more than another half mile to the trailhead so that is where we began hiking. We spoke with one couple that had begun their hike all the way back at the Portal Campground. If you can't find a spot at the Portal Campground there are a handful or more primitive campsites between there and the trailhead. From wherever you start Anderson and Petroleum Lakes are a good option in the Lincoln Creek area. If you would like to see them for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.