Tellurium Lake

Round Trip Distance: 8.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 9,920 - 10,653 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 5 hrs.
Trailhead: Tellurium Lake
Fee: none
Attractions: Subalpine lake, fishing

Tellurium Lake is located in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area of the White River National Forest east of Basalt, Colorado. The picturesque subalpine lake, that offers a distant view of Savage Peak (13,139 ft.), is a good backpacking destination that also has good fishing for Brook and Lake Trout. The lake can be accessed from the south through Henderson Park as well as from the west beginning off of the Burnt Mountain Road which was the route taken for this post.

From Basalt drive east on the Fryingpan River Road for 27 miles and turn left at the sign in this photo toward the Elk Wallow Campground. Shortly after passing a private lake on the right and just before reaching the Elk Wallow Campground turn left onto the Burnt Mountain Road FSR #506. Due to some steeper sections of the Burnt Mountain Road a 4wd vehicle is recommended. The Last Chance Creek trailhead is at the 4 mile point of the Burnt Mountain Road and 2.6 miles past that is the place to park for the Tellurium Lake trailhead which is another couple hundred feet down the road. The Burnt Mountain Road should be avoided when it is muddy. After the initial uphill climb it smooths out considerably until it reaches the Last Chance trailhead. The last 2.6 miles to the Tellurium Lake trailhead is rough and rocky for the most part.

The parking area is on a turn in the road at the top of a hill. Those that aren't camping at the parking area should try not to block any of the several primitive campsites that are there.

The first half or so of the trail follows an old jeep road that makes for some pretty easy hiking.

The kiosk and registration box for overnight camping comes up quite a ways away from the Burnt Mountain Road.

In two places the trail crosses a swath of basalt boulders that we were thinking were probably easier to drive across than to walk.

Near the 2.7 mile point the trail comes to some verdant mountain meadows where if you approach quietly enough you might be able to spot a few deer near the edge of the trees.

It is at this point that the Woods Lake trail #1928 branches off on the left.

The trail turns right as it passes along the edge of the meadows and begins a relative steep climb through the dark timber. It is here that it passes into the Holy Cross Wilderness Area.

The route levels off considerably as it skirts around the north side of Tellurium Park still remaining mostly within the trees.

A tangle of fallen trees numbering a score or more seeming blocks further progress at one point. Until the Forest Service has a chance to reopen the route there is a surprisingly easy way to get around them to the right. As you do so be sure to keep the trail in sight so as not to get lost in the woods. The detour won't take you more than 20-30 feet at its furthest from the actual trail. Once past this tangle the trail climbs a little more to another park where it makes a short descent down to the lake.

Tellurium Lake sits in a tranquil setting below timberline where there are a few good primitive campsites back in the shelter of the forest. The upper part of Savage Peak (13,139 ft.) can be seen off in the distance. While standing along the shore taking photos we had a lake trout clear the water by what seemed like a good foot while taking aim at a large dragonfly and in the process landing on the opposite side of a submerged boulder. It was quite the circus act to behold. The fish would have been traveling at considerable speed on a collision course with the boulder before leaving the water and clearing the rock. It was a rather large dragonfly though and probably could not be resisted.

We saw deer in several places and  twice we saw bears. One of the bears crossed the road right before we got to the trailhead and was gone before we could get a photo. This one was near a spring and didn't stick around long enough for a good steady photo shot. The deer were all just inside the trees in the meadowy areas near the Woods Lake junction.

Coming up through Henderson Park to Tellurium Lake comes out to about 10 miles round trip but the road to that trailhead doesn't require 4wd. Via the Last Chance trail it should be about 7.6 miles round trip. We have an older map that shows a route that goes right over the summit of Burnt Mountain (11,178 ft.). That route starts where the powerline crosses the Burnt Mountain Road just before the parking area that we used for this post. Whichever way you go about it if you would like to see Tellurium Lake for yourself all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.