Pitkin Lake

Vail, Colorado 81657

Pitkin Lake

Pitkin Lake Professional Review and Guide

"Located on the southern flank of the Gore Mountains, this trail is typical of hiking trails in the area. The route takes you up into a steep, heavily glaciated valley, through a series of hanging valleys with stunning scenery, and finally ends at a small lake nestled against the steep ridge in the center of the range.

Although not all of the valleys have lakes in them, this same basic pattern is repeated again and again by trails in the Gore Range. With a few exceptions, the trails all dead-end high in the long glaciated valleys because there is no practical way out."

More Pitkin Lake Professional Reviews and Guides

"Pitkin Creek and Pitkin Lake are named for Frederick W. Pitkin, governor of Colorado from 1879 to 1883. The Pitkin Creek drainage is a narrow, steeply rising glacial bowl that ends in Pitkin Lake with its memorable backdrop of jagged Gore Range peaks.

These mountains have not been fully explored by mountaineers to this day. Isolated, seldom-visited valleys lie among the peaks. The Pitkin Lake Trail penetrates this imposing and visually beautiful range. Perhaps because of the paucity of explorers, these peaks have few written descriptions and their names are letters of the alphabet."

Pitkin Lake Reviews

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8/4/2018
There are still a lot of amazing wildflowers here! The spread is incredible. There are quite a few water-crossings, too, but they are not troublesome. The elevation gain is definitely challenging, but worth every labored breath. Spectacular.
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8/2/2011
This is a great hike! beautiful and very few people on the trail. it is a very long climb though, but well worth it. My dog loved it!
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8/3/2010
Incredible trail devoid of people in the middle of the week. It gets you up high quick and affords spectacular views of the Gore Range from the lake. Trailrunners, lace up, this is an incredible 10 mile jaunt that is great for running. Bring a camera and plenty of water. Have fun!
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9/7/2008
This was a perfect hike for late summer. The lake is absolutely beautiful and made me wish I fished! I agree on bringing plenty of water and a camera we didn't have a camera and the ol phone didn't do it justice. A little steep at first and a few places towards the end.
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8/5/2008
5.1 miles each way. The first 1/2 mile is steep, then easier. Spectacular wildflowers on August 5, 2008. Mosquitoes and flies at the lake itself.
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2/24/2008
Only made it about halfway up. Snow was getting too soft.
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6/16/2007
This hike provides great scenery and good cardio. Bring plenty of water and a camera. Sturdy waterproof boots are advisable during late spring and early summer. There are 2 beautiful waterfalls that would make nice destinations for those desiring a shorter trip. I made it to within a half mile from the lake but turned around because of fairly deep snow on the trail. I encountered 3 other hikers on this trail.
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Pitkin Lake Photos

Trail Information

Vail
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
9.4
Distance
2,980 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Difficult
Skill Level
6.75 hours
Duration
Midsummer through mid-fall. The upper part of the trail is covered with snow most years from early July through mid November.
Season
Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, White River National Forest
Local Contacts
Vail East (USGS)
Local Maps