Tabor Lake

Round Trip Distance: 6.4 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 10,265 - 12,343 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 5 hrs.
Trailhead: Tabor Creek
Fee: none
Attractions: alpine lake

Tabor Lake is located in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area of the White River National Forest east of Aspen, Colorado. The route begins off of the Lincoln Creek Road, following the Tabor Creek trail, where it crosses Lincoln Creek and climbs steeply for the first half mile before leveling off to a more moderate climb along Tabor Creek. The trail is very pleasant as it continues up the valley traveling out in the open on the tundra slopes for much of the way. At the 2.5 mile point there is a junction marked by two cairns where the route to Tabor Lake branches off on the right for the remaining 0.7 miles to the scenic alpine basin that holds the lake.

To get to the trailhead follow Highway 82 east out of Aspen for 11 miles and turn right onto the Lincoln Creek Road. A high clearance vehicle will be required from this point. Continue for 4.1 miles to the trailhead. If you enter 'Tabor Lake' into your driving app and choose the one in the White River National Forest you can get turn by turn directions that will get you within a few hundred feet of the trailhead.

The trail starts out by crossing Lincoln Creek. For this post the crossing was made toward the end of July when the water was less than boot deep. At times when the creek has a heavier flow there is a large tree that is fallen across the creek that might make a more preferable crossing.

After crossing the creek the trail climbs up the side of the mountain for just over a quarter mile where it crosses a road and the buried New York Collection Canal that takes water from Tabor Creek and New York Creek and delivers it to Grizzly Reservoir.

The easy to follow trail continues along the mountain side above Tabor Creek remaining mostly secluded within the conifer forest.

Near the 0.8 mile point the trail crosses to the west side of Tabor Creek.

After crossing Tabor Creek the trail steepens for a hundred yards or so as it climbs up to the tundra slope where it moderates as it continues up the valley slowly revealing the higher peaks and ridges. Truro Peak (13,282 ft.) is the first prominence on the east side of the valley to catch your attention.

Near the 2.5 mile point the route to Tabor Lake branches off on the right from the Tabor Creek trail. There is a small cairn erected on top of a boulder and a larger one on the ground that are the only clues to mark the spot.

Currently as soon as you turn off onto the trail to Tabor Lake it seems to completely dissolve into the tundra and disappear. Don't despair though and give up too quickly. If you look up toward the picturesque jagged peaks that are being spotlighted by the sun in this photo you might be able to pick out the next cairn that is mostly obscured by a group of trees. After hiking in that direction for a short distance the cairn comes more into view and so does the trail.

The trail gets steeper as it begins stepping up the benches until it ultimately reaches the basin below Tabor Peak that cradles the lake. In this photo from the bench just below the lake the trail can faintly be seen angling up towards the jagged ridge on the right where it comes to a switchback and begins its final assault on the basin.

Sitting at 12,340 feet, with Tabor Peak (13,281 ft.) in the background, the pleasant shores of the lake offer its infrequent visitors plenty of places for repose.

Looking at the valley end of the lake it has the awesome perspective of hanging on the edge of the world. Tabor Lake is one that has a waterfall at its outlet that plunges down a cliff. Of course, the times when the waterfall is most majestic are the same as when the Lincoln Creek and Tabor Creek crossings are at their worst.

On the day that we took the photos for this post, once the sun got high enough in the sky to shine down into the Tabor Creek drainage, it was nice and sunny. As we reached the lake a short drizzle rolled in and by the time we got about half way back down the trail it was nice and sunny again. While living in Alaska we learned that carrying our raincoats and taking whatever came along was far preferable to always staying at home. There were two more vehicles once we got back to the trailhead but their occupants didn't have plans to go to the lake. It is a little surprising that Tabor Lake isn't more popular. It's a nice medium length trail with beautiful scenery and hikers that make it all the way to the lake are well rewarded for their effort. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.