Devils Thumb Lake, Hessie Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado

Devils Thumb Lake - 10.8 miles

Hessie Trailhead

Devils Thumb Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Devils Thumb Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Round-Trip Length: 10.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 9,009' - 11,138' (11,154' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,129' net elevation gain (+2,345' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Devils Thumb Lake - 10.8 Miles Round-Trip

Devils Thumb Lake (11,138') is located 5.4 miles from Hessie Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. This slender 11-acre lake is hemmed by the north valley wall and bound by krummholz near the outlet, but opens along the south and west shores to big, level meadows under the Continental Divide

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Devils Thumb Bypass and Devils Thumb Trail follow Jasper Creek to Jasper Lake (4.3 miles), where the forest and valley open on several short, steep spurts over the next mile to Devils Thumb Lake (5.4 miles).

Visitors will enjoy excellent fishing and alpine landscapes on the hike to Devils Thumb Lake:

The trail begins on a steep dirt road that meets South Fork Middle Boulder Creek at the Devils Thumb Bypass Trail split (.85 miles : 9,455'). Bear right on the Devils Thumb Bypass Trail, which twists steeply into a large meadow at the Indian Wilderness Boundary (1.35 miles : 9,625').

It moderates on a rocky path through timber and glades to the Devils Thumb - Woodland Lake Trail split (2.15 miles, 9,780').

Veer right toward Jasper Lake on a steeper grade that may be obscured by runoff and snow through mid-July. Anticipate one sudden, vaguely marked left turn over a stream at 2.8 miles (10,215').

The trail climbs steadily up the north valley wall to the Diamond Lake Trail split (3.7 miles : 10,675'), past which it undulates in a thinning forest to the first of several spurs for Jasper Lake and campsite access (4.3 miles).

The Devils Thumb Trail continues below Jasper Lake, crosses the outlet stream on a makeshift bridge and rises back to a sign for Devils Thumb - High Lonesome Trail and a spur for Backcountry Campsites (4.7 miles) on the west end of the lake.

It passes a large pond and climbs to a meadow with upper valley views (5.0 miles : 10,908'). The trail winds up a steep ridge and gradually moderates through treeline to Devils Thumb Lake (5.4 miles : 11,138').

Hop the outlet on a makeshift bridge to reach open points on the south shore and large meadows between the lake and Divide. The trail continues up to Devils Thumb Pass (11,775') on the Divide where it meets the High Lonesome Trail (CDT).

Turn south on the High Lonesome Trail to King Lake and return to Hessie for an exciting 14.75 mile loop.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 57.100 W105 35.696 — 2WD Parking Area for Hessie Trailhead
  • N39 57.278 W105 36.192 — Hessie Trailhead
  • N39 57.330 W105 36.780 — .85 miles : Devils Thumb Bypass Trail junction
  • N39 57.364 W105 37.187 — 1.25 miles : Enter Meadow
  • N39 57.410 W105 37.301 — 1.4 miles : Indian Peaks Wilderness Boundary
  • N39 57.543 W105 37.547 — 1.65 miles : Exit Meadow
  • N39 57.848 W105 37.935 — 2.2 miles : Woodland Lake Trail junction
  • N39 58.133 W105 38.434 — 2.85 miles : Turn left over small creek
  • N39 58.409 W105 38.892 — 3.5 miles : Travel along south-facing valley wall
  • N39 58.475 W105 39.107 — 3.75 miles : Diamond Lake Trail junction
  • N39 58.461 W105 39.604 — 4.35 miles : Jasper Lake spur
  • N39 58.488 W105 39.615 — Jasper Lake
  • N39 58.494 W105 39.730 — 4.5 miles : Devils Thumb - High Lonesome Trail marker
  • N39 58.543 W105 39.856 — 4.7 miles : Backcountry Campsite 'D' spur
  • N39 58.521 W105 40.160 — 5.1 miles : Circle to right of meadow
  • N39 58.448 W105 40.359 — Travel to base of steep ridge
  • N39 58.416 W105 40.543 — 5.4 miles : Devils Thumb Lake
  • N39 58.298 W105 40.941 — 5.9 miles : Alpine Ponds above Devils Thumb Lake

Worth Noting

  • Jasper Lake and Devils Thumb Lake are popular destinations accessed by a heavily used trail artery. Get an early start to avoid peak-season congestion. Parking is limited and fills up very quickly on the weekends.

  • Jasper Lake is also a reservoir, whose water rights are owned by Caribou Ranch.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Permits are required for backcountry camping in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, June 1 - Sept. 15. Permits are limited.
  • Permits are $5 per party. Contact the Sulphur Ranger District (970.887.4100) or Boulder Ranger District (303.541.2500) in advance to secure a permit.
  • Permits must be picked up in person at either Ranger Station, or ordered in advance by mail. There is no online reservation system for permits.
  • Permits are required year-round for day and overnight use by large groups (8+) or organizational groups such as scouts, churches, schools and hiking clubs. Group size is limited to 12 people or people+stock combined.
  • Campfires are prohibited east of the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks Wilderness (including Jasper Lake), as well as Caribou Lake, Columbine Lake, Gourd Lake, Crater Lake and in the Cascade Creek drainage above Cascade Falls on the west side of the Divide.
  • Camping is permitted only at designated campsites in the Diamond, Jasper, Crater and Caribou Lakes Travel Zones.
  • Camping is prohibited in the 4 Lakes Travel Zone (Mitchell, Blue, Long, Isabelle) May 1 - Nov 30.
  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of lakes, streams and trails.
  • Pets must be on a handheld leash at all times.
  • Stock is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone, in the Cascade Backcountry Zone above Cascade Falls and on the Diamond Lake Trail #975.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted in the Storm Lakes, Jasper Lake, Devils Thumb Lake and Jasper Creek with a valid Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Directions to Trailhead

Devils Thumb Lake is accessed from the Hessie Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Nederland, Colorado.

From downtown Nederland, go south on Highway 72 for .5 miles to County Road 130 and make a right. You will see a sign for Eldora Ski Resort at this junction.

Continue on Highway 130 through the town of Eldora, just past which it becomes a dirt road (4.15 miles). 2WD drive conditions end 4.9 miles from the Highway 72 turnoff.

4WD vehicles may veer left at this point and continue another .5 miles to the trailhead. Others will have to park at one of the limited roadside spaces and walk the 4WD road to the Hessie Trailhead.

Contact Information

Boulder Ranger District
USDA Forest Service
2140 Yarmouth Ave.
Boulder, CO 80301

Sulphur Ranger District
9 Ten Mile Drive
P.O. Box 10
Granby, Colorado 80446

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Nice hike with not too many people on a Friday in summer, but be aware that Jasper Lake (a reservoir) gets drained this time of year (like Lake Isabelle up in Brainard Lake Rec Area). We found a nearly empty lake when we arrived, but had planned on continuing to Devil's Thumb Lake anyway, which was quite nice. The hike, while a little long, is pretty moderate throughout with a bit of rockiness in many areas, so watch your footing. It is in and out of the trees, so a good mix of sun and shade, and no issues with exposure/dropoffs. Overall, I recorded round-trip stats of 13 mi/2,600' elevation gain from the 2WD TH to the end of Devil's Thumb Lake."
Alex  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: August 17, 2018
"First, I saw a Ranger issuing parking tickets at Hessie and flagging anyone with a dog off leash. Definitely only use legal spaces - the last thing you want is a ticket (or worse, a towed car) when you get back. Very nice hike to Devils Thumb Lake and up to the pass (snow patches at this point are just easy walk-overs). I left early and saw only a few people on the way up, but tons on the way down. Seems like it's getting harder to avoid crowds up here, even on weekdays."
Rich Stansfield  -  Boulder  -  Date Posted: July 14, 2017
"Does anyone know how much snow is on the trail to Jasper and Devils Thumb? Can I make it without snowshoes or is it way too early?"
Todd T.  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: April 20, 2017
"Great hike, beautiful views, moderate to strenuous."
Bodie  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: July 18, 2016


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