lost lake trail buena vista colorado

New Lost Lake Trail near Buena Vista Colorado

followtiffsjourney affiliate disclosure

Lost Lake is one of Buena Vista’s best hikes and is beginner-friendly; it’s short and easy with some of the best views in Colorado. On a clear day, you can even see Pikes Peak! The lake is a beautiful green-turquoise color and is located in San Isabel National Forest.

If you are visiting Cottonwood Pass, this is a worthwhile hike to add to your trip. We hiked this trail as a quick detour on our way home to Denver after seeing the famous lupines in Crested Butte.

HIKE TO: Lost Lake
Lost Lake Trailhead
MILES: 3.5 miles out and back
TIME: 1.5 hrs
DATE I WENT: 6/28/24
ELEVATION: 11,869 ft
LOCATION: San Isabel National Forest — Buena Vista, Colorado
alpine lake colorado

New Lost Lake Trail 1532

In 2022, the trail was closed for restoration so it could be rerouted on dry ground to protect the fragile environment. According to The Chaffee County Times, traffic from the old trail had caused “soil and sediment loss, damaged and decaying vegetation, and additional negative impacts to the wildlife habitat and watershed.”

In August 2023, Lost Lake Trail #1532 reopened with a new and established parking lot just next to where the old pullout lot used to be, and a wide and maintained trail that eventually connects to the old trail near the end of the hike.

Lost Lake Trail Directions

Lost Lake Trail #1532 is located about 17 miles outside Buena Vista, Colorado. The trailhead is only 2 miles from Cottonwood Pass, off a sharp curve on Hwy 306, so drive slow and be careful not to miss it.

Click here for the trailhead pin.

Hike Lost Lake Near Buena Vista

When I went in late June, there were still some small patches of snow along the trail but nothing to make a fuss about.

The trailhead sits at an elevation of 11,541 ft.

The hike to Lost Lake is only 1.75 miles one way with 328 ft of elevation gain; however, if you are up for a little challenge and comfortable with steep scrambles up boulders, I’d recommend hiking around the lake and climbing another 200 ft to get a nice view of the lake and peaks below.

We started the hike at 10:19 am on a summer Friday, reached the lake at 10:53 am, spent some time exploring around the lake, and got back to the car by 12:15 pm. It took us 1:21 hrs to hike: 33 mins to hike to the lake, 10 mins to hike around and above the lake, and 38 mins to hike out.

This hike starts on a flat and wide road for the first 0.8 miles with just a little bit of mellow ups and downs. This took us about 13 mins to hike (longer if you are moving slower with kids).

Note: after recent rain, this trail can be wet and muddy.

For the next 0.95 miles to the lake, the trail is a narrow dirt path. At 1.38 miles, the trail opens up to views of the mountains and a boulder field-like trail but it’s always clear to find.

At 1.68 miles, you will connect with the old (and closed) Lost Lake trail. You will cross a small stream just before you reach the lake at 1.75 miles from the trailhead.

Lost Lake sits at an elevation of 11,869 ft and has a small island in the middle. When the water levels are higher like it was when we went, it’s a bit trickier to hike around the left side of the lake as the rocks you step on and the trail may be slightly submerged.

Pro Tip: Hike to the lake on a sunny day. When it’s sunny, the lake is a vibrant green color but when it’s cloudy, the lake color is dramatically different with a dull turquoise hue. It was a cloudy day on our hike but we waited for a few glimpses of sunlight to see the lake in its natural green color.

Once you are done exploring the area, head out the way you came in.

Gear List for a short lake hike

Download new Lost Lake Trail GPX track here.

Download new Lost Lake Trail
GPS Track

Subscribe to download the Lost Lake GPX track so you can hike with confidence and not get lost to Lost Lake.

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Where to Stay Nearby: Buena Vista Hotels 

    Things to do near Buena Vista


    • Collegiate Peaks Overlook is a great spot to visit for sunset. You don’t even need to get out of your car to see these incredible views but there are picnic tables for you to enjoy.
    • Visit Cottonwood Pass: the pass is 18 miles from Buena Vista but only 3.4 miles from Lost Lake Trailhead. It sits at an elevation of 12,126 ft and offers vast views of both sides of the Continental Divide


    • Half-Day Rafting Adventure at Browns Canyon National Monument: whitewater rafting in Colorado is a must-do summer activity. Book your tour here
    • Granite Via Ferrata Climbing Experience – book here

    Must-try eats

    Salida is a small town not too far and they have an amazing little Bakery, Little Red Hen Bakery. Highly recommend checking this out if you like carbs!

    Alpine Lakes in Colorado

    If you enjoy hiking to alpine lakes, here are a few others you may enjoy.

    Booking travel soon?
    Please consider using my affiliate links below. It costs nothing additional for you but helps me maintain the ever-increasing costs of running a travel blog:

    General travel through Tripadvisor here.

    Book your flights here.
    Book your accommodations here on Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and VRBO.
    Book your car rentals here.
    Book your tours here.

    Book your travel insurance here.

    Subscribe to Tiff’s Newsletter

      We respect your privacy and won’t spam you. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      Leave a Comment

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

      Scroll to Top