Grizzly Lake, Lincoln Creek Road - Grizzly Lake Trailhead, Aspen - Snowmass, Colorado

Grizzly Lake - 7.3 miles

Lincoln Creek Road - Grizzly Lake Trailhead

Grizzly Lake (12,523')

Grizzly Lake (12,523')

Round-Trip Length: 7.3 miles
Start-End Elevation: 10,610' - 12,523' (12,532' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,913' net elevation gain (+2,147' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Grizzly Lake - 7.3 Miles Round-Trip

Grizzly Lake (12,523') is located 3.65 miles from Lincoln Creek Road in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. It fills a steep-walled cirque carved from the base of Grizzly Peak (13,988') just west of the Continental Divide.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

This relatively moderate hike follows long stretches of alpine meadow beside Grizzly Creek until veering away across high alpine terraces on the final ascent.

The lake is hemmed by tight cirque walls but tall knolls on the open side have nice vantages over the lake and valley. Fishing is also quite good at Grizzly Lake, which sees lighter traffic than others near Aspen due to the difficult drive up Lincoln Creek Road:

The trail climbs 365' in just .45 miles to an expansive meadow where travel moderates for the next 1.7 miles across big, open slopes over Grizzly Creek. This fast stretch features great views across the valley, ideal camping terrain and wildflowers that rival any during their mid July - August peak.

It arcs SE down to the creek, crosses to the west side (2.15 miles : 11,435') and steepens toward the west valley wall. The trail edges away from the creek before turning sharply west and leveling across an alpine terrace from 3.0 - 3.35 miles (12,080 ' - 12,290'). 

This abrupt deviation from the creek may seem counter-intuitive and hard to read with snow cover. Carry a good map and be patient with route finding past the 2.15 creek crossing. Look for elk and goat in high alpine meadows and craggy walls on this attractive segment.

The trail heads straight across to a switchback notched in the west valley wall (3.35 miles : 12,290'), which turns south on a steep run to Grizzly Lake (3.65 miles : 12,523').

Level ground is limited on the shore, but tall knolls with clear social trails are easy to scale with great views across the basin, valley and meadows you pass from 3.0 - 3.35 miles.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 04.642 W106 36.692 — 0.0 miles : Grizzly Lake Trailhead
  • N39 04.601 W106 36.269 — .45 miles : Steep climb levels into meadow
  • N39 04.546 W106 35.710 — 1.0 miles : Fast, level travel across meadow
  • N39 04.304 W106 35.275 — 1.5 miles : Begin SE arc in valley
  • N39 04.008 W106 35.132 — 1.9 miles : Pass through small patch of timber
  • N39 03.819 W106 35.108 — 2.15 miles : Cross Grizzly Creek to west side of valley
  • N39 03.512 W106 35.119 — 2.5 miles : Travel steepens up west side of creek
  • N39 03.297 W106 35.250 — 2.8 miles : Steep push up west side of valley
  • N39 03.237 W106 35.337 — 3.0 miles : Trail veers away from creek to tundra bench
  • N39 03.299 W106 35.602 — 3.35 miles : Switchback up west valley wall on final push
  • N39 03.089 W106 35.593 — 3.65 miles : Grizzly Lake (12,523')

Worth Noting

  • Portions of the last mile can be difficult to follow when covered by snow.
  • Loose rock and snow can make the descent from Grizzly Lake to the switchback quite slick.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Campgrounds and Designated Sites on Lincoln Creek Road:

Camping and campfires are only permitted at Lincoln Gulch Campground (7 sites), Portal Campground (5 sites) and in 22 designated pull out sites along Lincoln Creek Road. Dispersed camping is not permitted along the road between these 22 sites (3 mile mark) and the Portal Campground.

Backcountry Camping:

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. No fees or permits are required.

  • Camping is prohibited within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals (or 25 with people + stock).

  • Campfires are permitted in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any trail, lake or stream. Seasonal and location-specific restrictions may also apply.

  • Contact the Aspen Ranger District (970.925.3445) or Sopris Ranger District (970.963.2266) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted on Grizzly Lake, Grizzly Creek and the Roaring Fork River with a valid Colorado fishing license. Contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife or the Aspen | Sopris Ranger Stations to learn more about potential restrictions and limits on the Roaring Fork.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
  • Camping and campfires are only permitted at Lincoln Gulch Campground (7 sites) Portal Campground (5 sites) and in 22 designated pull-off sites along Lincoln Creek Road. Dispersed camping is not permitted along Lincoln Creek Road between the 3 mile mark and Portal Campground.

Directions to Trailhead

Grizzly Creek Trailhead is located on Lincoln Creek Road off Highway 82, 15.7 miles east of downtown Aspen.

From Original Street in Aspen, turn east on Highway 82 toward Independence Pass and travel 9.5 miles to Lincoln Creek Road. Turn right and continue 6.1 miles to Grizzly Reservoir. Follow signs left for Portal Campground at the reservoir.

The trailhead parking lot is on the left, marked by a small "Trailhead' sign.

Lincoln Creek Road is a very rough road. 4WD is not necessary but high clearance is a must. 4WD is preferable. If uncomfortable driving at any point, use a pullout and walk or bike the road (it may not take much more time to walk / bike than drive).

Contact Information

Aspen Ranger District
806 West Hallam
Aspen, CO 81611

Sopris Ranger District
620 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623

White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521 | 970.319.2670

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