Lily Pad Lake, Buffalo Mountain - Lily Pad Lake Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Lily Pad Lake - 3.2 miles

Buffalo Mountain - Lily Pad Lake Trailhead

Lily Pad Lake

Lily Pad Lake

Round-Trip Length: 3.2 miles
Start-End Elevation: 9,824' - 9,928' (10,009' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +104' net elevation gain (+409' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Lily Pad Lake - 3.2 Miles Round-Trip

Lily Pad Lake is located 1.6 miles from Buffalo Mountain Trailhead in the Eagles Nest Wilderness. This short, family-friendly hike leads through a rich montane forest to adjacent lily-covered lakes in the shadow of Buffalo Mountain (12,777'). Visitors will enjoy 3-4 season access, mild grades and several beaver ponds en route to the lake.

The trail begins at the south end of the Buffalo Mountain - Lily Pad Lake parking area. Follow the service road up and keep right of the utility station to pick up the trail in a thick lodgepole forest (.15 miles : 9,905'). The path is initially wide, level and softened by pine needles.

It moves quickly past the Eagles Nest Wilderness Boundary (.3 miles : 9,912') to a large beaver pond on the right. The trail skirts a second pond and passes through a grassy clearing, a good place to look for deer, elk and moose (.75 miles : 9,859').

The grade steepens on a rockier path to the Salt Lick Trail junction (1.1 miles : 10,003'), near which several beaver ponds can be found hidden in the forest. Here the trail levels along its highest point and drops gradually to the edge of Lily Pad Lake #1 (1.55 miles : 9,942'), a small depression blanketed in pond lilies. The trail continues on a high embankment between the first and second Lily Pad Lake (1.6 miles : 9,928').

The second lake is significantly larger, with excellent views north of Buffalo Mountain. Social trails circle each, with access to sandy openings along the main lake's shore that are suitable for fishing.

Those seeking a longer outing and a bit more solitude may continue south on the Lily Pad Lake Trail to Meadow Creek and the Meadow Creek Trail junction (2.65 miles : 9,560'). This hillier section passes through a gorgeous aspen forest and open sage-filled hillsides with sweeping views across the Dillon Reservoir and Ten Mile Range.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 37.142 W106 06.627 — 0.0 miles : Lily Pad Lake Trailhead
  • N39 36.902 W106 06.670 — .3 miles : Cross Eagles Nest Wilderness Boundary
  • N39 36.592 W106 06.782 — .75 miles : Undulating climb in lodgepole forest
  • N39 36.329 W106 06.815 — 1.1 miles : Salt Lick Trail junction
  • N39 36.044 W106 06.942 — 1.55 miles : Lily Pad Lake #1
  • N39 36.009 W106 06.962 — 1.6 miles : Lily Pad Lake #2
  • N39 35.438 W106 06.806 — 2.55 miles : Meadow Creek Trail junction

Worth Noting

  • Mosquitoes are prevalent in the Lily Pad Lake vicinity. Long sleeves and repellants are recommended.

  • Runners and winter athletes will enjoy the Lily Pad Lake Trail's mild grades and wide track. The full trail stretches 2.65 miles from the parking area to the Meadow Creek Trail junction (5.3 miles roundtrip).

  • Autumn travelers should continue south of the lakes to a thick aspen grove known for its brilliant foliage.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. No permit is necessary. Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.

  • Free flowing water is limited along the Buffalo Mountain Trail. Adequately treat all water and be sure pumps are working to capacity prior to setting out.

  • Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.

  • Contact the Dillon Ranger District (970.468.5400) for the latest on weather, trail conditions and trail-specific usage guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.

  • For those not wishing to camp in the backcountry, there are several developed campgrounds within the White River National Forest. Contact the Dillon Ranger District for information on these sites.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted with a valid Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are permitted on the Lily Pad Lake Trail and within the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6'.

  • Horses are permitted on the Lily Pad Lake Trail.

  • Bikes are not permitted on the Lily Pad Lake Trail. There is a $525 fine for riding bikes on this trail.


Directions to Trailhead

Lily Pad Lake is located within the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest. The Buffalo Mountain - Lily Pad Lake Trailhead is located 3.6 miles west of Silverthorne, Colorado on Wildernest Road.

From I-70, exit #205 at Silverthorne and travel north on HWY 9 to the first traffic light, which is Wildernest Road. Turn west on Wildernest Road, which turns into Ryan Gulch Road. Continue on Ryan Gulch Road up the winding hill past numerous condo complexes. At the top of the hill there is a parking area on the left. The Lily Pad Lake Trail begins at the south end of the parking area. A 2nd trailhead, 50 yards north of this parking area, leads to Buffalo Mountain.

Contact Information

Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
M - F from 8am - 4pm

White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"We hiked this trail today with a 3.5 year old and 5 year old. There were some muddy spots, so you’ll want to wear old shoes or hiking boots. The kids had a blast. There are 3 small bridges and various other obstacles that are easy to navigate. The lake is beautiful and gives a good view of the mountain peaks."
Tom  -  Silverthorne  -  Date Posted: June 19, 2019


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