Colorado is filled with incredible hikes waiting to be explored. If you’re planning a trip to the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the Devil’s Thumb Trail should be on your list of hikes to make. Learn more about this hike below!
Start at the Hessie Trailhead, which acts as a popular access point to US Forest Service Lands and great trails, including the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Devils Thumb, Lost Lake, Diamond Lake, and several others. Keep in mind that parking is limited along the road, and it will be difficult to get parking in the busy season. An alternative is to park at the RTD Park-n-Ride in Nederland and take the free shuttle to the trailhead. From the Hessie Trailhead, cross the footbridge. You can choose to follow the somewhat shorter Devil’s Thumb Bypass to the right or continue on the Devil’s Thumb Trail (#902) to the left. Something to take into consideration when deciding which trail to follow is time of year—the bypass was made for spring and summer hikers so they could avoid the mud and water from snowmelt. If you take the Devils Thumb Trail on the left, you’ll come to a second intersection with signs for Lost Lake and King Lake to the left and Devils Thumb Lake, Jasper Lake, and Woodland Lake to the right. Follow to the right to continue on Devils Thumb Trail. You’ll come to another intersection where you can go left to Woodland Lake or right to continue to Devils Thumb and Jasper Lakes. Continue on the right-hand trail which will lead you to the point where the bypass meets up with the main trail. The trail continues to increase in difficulty from here—it’s almost nonstop elevation until you reach Jasper Lake. It’s worth stopping by Jasper Lake to catch your breath! The lake is beautiful, and so is the surrounding scenery. Be careful if you are hiking during summer when thunderstorms are common because you will be exposed, as you’ll be about 2,000 feet above sea level.It’s only one more mile from Jasper Lake to Devil’s Thumb Lake, where you will be able to see the famous landmark. Take a moment to prepare yourself here, because the next part of the trail climbs up the side of a ridge to reach the Continental Divide. From there, it’s about half a mile to the Devil’s Thumb Pass. Once you reach the pass, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramas of Winter Park and Mary Jane to the west and the Front Range and the plains of Colorado to the east. At this point, you can either double back or continue to King Lake Trail, which will take you back to the Hessie trailhead. Either way, the total length of the trip will be around 15 miles, and it presents quite a challenge. Make sure you’re prepared for this hike both physically and supplies-wise. Make sure you are aware of the dangers of altitude sickness. You’ll also need a permit if you’re hiking in a group or planning to stay overnight in the wilderness.
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