Herman Lake, Herman Gulch Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Herman Lake - 6.5 miles

Herman Gulch Trailhead

Herman Lake (11,987')

Herman Lake (11,987')

Round-Trip Length: 6.5 miles
Start-End Elevation: 10,332' - 11,987' (12,018' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,655' net elevation gain (+1,815' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Herman Lake - 6.5 Miles Round-Trip

Herman Lake (11,987') is located north of Bakerville, CO in the Clear Creek Ranger District of the Arapaho National Forest. It lies at the head of a broad valley in open, rolling tundra just east of the Continental Divide. The Herman Gulch Trail, which is part of the Continental Divide Trail, follows Herman Gulch through scenic meadows to treeline, where it branches off on a well-defined path to Herman Lake.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Visitors will enjoy good trail conditions, open alpine landscapes and a chance to see bighorn sheep and mountain goat in their natural habitat:

The Herman Gulch Trail begins in a fir-aspen forest to the Watrous Gulch Trail split and bears north (.17 miles : 10,376'). It steepens on a wide, rocky track to Herman Gulch, where it bends northwest and moderates along the creek and string of slender glades (.5 miles : 10,690').

The trail rises steadily beside the creek into a long meadow in the lower gulch (1.05 miles : 10,940'). Travel moderates with emerging views of the Continental Divide between Pettingell Peak (13,553') and Hagar Mountain (13,195').

Look for moose along the willow-lined creek, and deer and elk on the grassy slopes of Mount Bethel (12,705') to the south.

The trail moves quickly up-valley, gaining only 300' between the first and second mile (2.0 miles : 11,288'). At 2.45 miles (11,464') it edges back into forest and climbs steeply above the gulch, passing treeline just before reaching the CDT - Jones Pass Trail split (2.85 miles : 11,838').

Follow signs west to Herman Lake. The Herman Lake Trail climbs steadily into an expansive alpine landscape, easing across open tundra flats to Herman Lake (3.25 miles : 11,987').

Herman Lake is framed by the steep east wall of Pettingell Peak, but is free of major obstacles and easy to explore. The main trail continues past the lake, eventually fading in the tundra on an informal run up to the Divide. Climb knolls over the east shore for panoramas across the basin, and scan valley walls for bighorn sheep and mountain goat which inhabit this area.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 42.151 W105 51.256 — Herman Gulch Trailhead
  • N39 42.187 W105 51.064 — .17 miles : Herman Gulch - Watrous Gulch Trail split
  • N39 42.372 W105 51.374 — .5 miles : Trail bends northwest beside creek
  • N39 42.712 W105 51.622 — 1.0 miles : Travel moderates beside a long meadow
  • N39 42.964 W105 52.087 — 1.5 miles : Level travel through an expanding valley
  • N39 43.202 W105 52.572 — 2.0 miles : Trail continues on more rugged course
  • N39 43.276 W105 53.029 — 2.5 miles : Steep climb above lower gulch thru treeline
  • N39 43.370 W105 53.274 — 2.85 miles : Herman Lake - Jones Pass Trail Split
  • N39 43.421 W105 53.661 — 3.25 miles : Herman Lake

Worth Noting

  • Moderate grades and good trail conditions are well-suited for families and winter recreation. Accommodating camping terrain with running water can be found along the first 2.45 miles of the trail.
  • Arrive early to secure parking, avoid crowds and afternoon storms. Be mindful of changing weather and aim for treeline before storms develop.
  • Seasonal hunting is permitted in the Arapaho National Forest. Wear bright colors and remain on designated trails to ensure your safety.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Arapaho National Forest. No permit is necessary.

  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.

  • Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Contact the Clear Creek Ranger District for current conditions, use restrictions and fire regulations.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted along Herman Gulch and at Herman Lake with a valid Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs, Horses and Bikes are permitted on the Herman Gulch Trail. Dogs must be leashed at all times.

  • Mechanized vehicles are not permitted on the Herman Gulch Trail.

Directions to Trailhead

The Herman Gulch Trailhead is located .1 mile north of exit #218 from I-70. It's located between Bakerville, CO and the Eisenhower Tunnel.

From westbound I-70, exit #218 and bear right (east) on the short service road that dead-ends at the Herman Gulch Trailhead.

Contact Information

Clear Creek Ranger District
101 Chicago Creek Road
P.O. Box 3307
Idaho Springs, Colorado 80452
Open daily 8-4:30, open holidays

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Great hike and workout. Two hours to the lake from the trail head at a moderate pace. There are sections that are shaded. It was a beautiful day that was cloudy for a while which gave a break from the sun. It looked like a storm was coming in on the way down with a little rain, but it didn't happen and the sun came back out. An hour and a half coming back down from the lake at a quicker pace. The flowers were spectacular, reminded me of the Indian Peaks area in places. "
Paul  -  Boulder  -  Date Posted: August 10, 2019
"Everything you want in a Rocky Mountain hike- aspens, pine forests, wildflower meadows, waterfalls, mountain creek, panoramic views, and an alpine lake at the top! The last mile is where you'll get your workout in, but the view is worth it. A great training hike for a 14er, since you reach 12,000 ft at the top. "
Erin H  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: July 5, 2018
"We took the day off from skiing since there's only so many times you can do the same runs @ Loveland - where's all the snow?!?!? Turned out to be a great decision - this lake is awesome, and I can't wait to bring the family back in the summer. There's definitely snow on the trail but very manageable with decent snowshoes. Just allow enough time because the days are definitely getting short and you don't want to have to rush like we did on the way back. Try to start around 9 so you have plenty of time to get there and enjoy the open lake area. It's also pretty high, so expect some cold winds and slow going as you push above treeline."
Chris Caster  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: November 27, 2017
"can anybody tell me how will the weather be like or is like in October. Will i need my snowshoes or not? thank you"
Ariela  -  golden, Colorado  -  Date Posted: October 8, 2016
"This is an excellent trail that has some steep challenging parts at the beginning and end. It passes through some amazing meadows and clearings then finishes off in an open alpine lake. Lots of wildlife viewing potential. I went at 530am on a Friday and by 10am the parking lot was almost full."
John  -  Westminster, CO  -  Date Posted: August 19, 2016
"We started about 8AM. It took us two hours & five minutes to get to the lake. It sprinkled on us most of the way up. Everything was SO LUSH and we were shocked by the number of wild flowers still present in Aug. What a great hike. We stopped a lot for pics & video and it took us four hours. I've now seen this landscape in three of the four seasons and I highly recommend it in each! "
Melanie  -  Denver CO  -  Date Posted: August 6, 2016
"We started this hike a little later than we intended (around 11am), it definitely had a lot of hikers (i'm assuming it's busier on weekends vs. weekdays) and I saw about 4 mountain bikers along the trail. Finding parking was no problem. The first part of the hike is pretty steep and so is the last part up to the lake but the views, wildflowers, and Herman lake are well worth it. Suggestion - go in the morning and get out of there before any storms start. "
Suzie  -  CO - Colorado  -  Date Posted: July 25, 2016
"This was a great hike. The wild flowers are gorgeous and everywhere right now. I would definitely recommend this trail… Stunning views, a great workout and a great payoff!! "
Corie  -  Littleton CO  -  Date Posted: July 27, 2015
"Did this hike today with my dog. It was very fun with rewarding views at the top. The trail head was easy to find just off I-70 exit 218. The wild flowers are out right now and the valley was covered with them. There is still a little snow at the top but the lake was completely thawed. Once at the top I hiked up the knoll just east of Herman Lake and was able to get some panoramic shots of Herman Lake with Mt Bethel, Hager Mountain and Pettingell Peak in the background. I started down around 2 because it started thundering and didn't want to get caught in any lightning. "
Mandy  -  Lakewood Colorado  -  Date Posted: July 5, 2015
"Anyone have the directions on how to get up Hagar Peak from Lake Herman?"
J Forney  -   -  Date Posted: August 8, 2014
"Amazing wildflowers up there right now. Also tons of snow if you know where to look. Skied a line off the Citadel with everyone at Herman Lake hooting and hollering. Sent it big."
Lil Jimmy Norden  -  Mile High  -  Date Posted: August 7, 2014
"Tons of snow up here still. Would definitely suggest waiting at least a couple weeks before attempting this one. Couldn't even make it to the lake because the trail disappeared under the snow :("
Eileen  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: June 23, 2014
"We started off using only traction, and while I made it all the way up doing so (breaking trail near the top), snowshoes would have been very useful the last 3/4 of a mile or so (I think everyone else put theirs on). They were definitely FUN to have on coming back downhill, playing in the butter-powdery snow that was anywhere from 1 – 3 feet deep. It was relatively calm at the lake (rare), but still likely around or below zero with wind chill when the wind did rise. On the way back we had 20s, which were pretty perfect. http://coloradotrailpost.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/good-day-over-12000-herman-lake/ "
Thunderable  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: December 29, 2013
"Hiked on Sat 9/21, trail in great condition, some wet areas in the lower sections, with a bit of trail just above the switchback washed out ( center of trail had a 3-4 inch deep crevice down the center) Ground around the lake wet if you sit or kneel. Parking lot fairly fully at 9AM, talked with others, they were there due to inaccessibility of most front range trails. (US 34, 36 and highway 7 closed) but on the way back CDOT sign on Ebound 70 indicated Peak-to-Peak highway is open to Estes. "
Paul  -  Eastlake  -  Date Posted: September 22, 2013
"It's always best to call the Ranger District for the latest, but we're hearing that Clear Creek County's impact was spotty. The further west (like Herman Lake), the better things look. Enjoy your hike and let us know what you find!"
ProTrails Admin  -   -  Date Posted: September 20, 2013
"Did the recent rains have an adverse affect on the trail conditions?"
Jerry  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: September 20, 2013
"Alan, I hiked this on Saturday and it was beautiful. Warm at the trail head with a chilly winds up at the lake. I'm bad at guessing but I'd say it felt like 65 degrees or so up top with the breeze...not bad at all. "
Erik  -  Boulder CO  -  Date Posted: September 4, 2012
"Moderate may be the "Skill Level" for hikers, but NOT for bikers. Almost 95% upward slopes and constant large roots and rocks make it very difficult to master the constant uphill over the obstacles. For a biker, I would rate this as difficult."
Kenny J  -  Denver, Colorado  -  Date Posted: July 4, 2012
"Anyone know the conditions near Herman Lake? Considering camping the next weekend or the one after (late April). Thanks! - Alan"
Alan  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: April 9, 2012


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