Waterdog Lakes


Elevation Gain1,356ft
Trailhead Elevation10,350ft
Elevation Min/Max10350/11395ft
Elevation Start/End10350/10350ft

Waterdog Lakes

Waterdog Lakes is a hiking trail in , Colorado. It is within San Isabel National Forest. It is 1.5 miles long and begins at 10,350 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,356 feet.

Waterdog Lakes Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Ania Savage
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"If you and your dog are constant hiking and backpacking companions, then a quick day trip or an easy overnight backpack to Waterdog Lakes may be fun. The trail is easy to reach and the hike elevation is modest. The scant 2-mile-long trail follows a stream as it winds its way upward through an evergreen forest. In the meadows and clearings, wildflowers are abundant during July and August. The lakes are at timberline and beneath the rock wall of the Continental Divide."
100 Classic Hikes in Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Scott S. Warren
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"For a short but sweet hike in the Monarch Pass area, try the 2-mile trail to Waterdog Lakes. Located near timberline, these two lakes are surrounded by scenic alpine ridges. In addition, they offer some good fishing opportunities. While Waterdog Lakes are regularly stocked with Mackinaw trout, brook trout are caught there as well."
Winter Trails: Colorado-The Best Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Trails (Falcon Guides)
Andy Lightbody and Kathy Mattoon
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"The short, steep, and semi-strenuous trail to the three lakes that make up Waterdog Lakes is a favorite with local snowshoers and skiers in the Salida and Poncha Springs area. Named for the tiger salamanders (aka waterdogs) that are found in these lakes, this trail features a 1,059-foot elevation gain in just less than 2 miles. Because the trail is ungroomed and may be covered in a foot or more of snow, it’s a favorite for snowshoers and some skinny-ski aficionados looking to enjoy the hike up to catch stunning views of the Continental Divide."

Waterdog Lakes Trip Reports

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It's a pretty short hike, but definitely steep, and mosquitoes are ravenous. Beautiful view at the top!
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Other than the brief road-like sections, this trail was beautiful. The final section before the first waterdog lake was a particularly lovely spot for lunch, on a grassy hillside studded with wildflowers with gogeous views. The trail to upper waterdog lake was difficult to find (we're not sure we ever did really find it, but we did eventually find the upper lake, which was strikingly beautiful, particuarly in the misty conditions the day of our hike).
Perhaps it was just the particular day we went, but we also found very few other hikers at the lake - fewer than 10 other people on the entire hike.
Great hike for children IF your children are used to hiking. Our 6 year old loved it, except one stretch toward the top that looked like a steep gravelly road. This section is very short - what you see from the start is all there is, and above it is beautiful, so if you can keep the kids going over this very short discouraging part, it will be worth the effort.

Waterdog Lakes Photos

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Trail Information

San Isabel and Gunnison National Forests
Local Contacts

Trail Log