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  • Writer's pictureVien R. Guenther

Herman Gulch Trail - Arapaho National Forest, Colorado

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Sign to the trail

The Herman Gulch Trail is rated as a moderate hike, but that depends on who’s hiking. The wildflowers here are also incredibly stunning, if you happen to hike here at the right time. There is a lake at the end of the trail, though not quite as spectacular compared to others. Since this is a popular trail, expect to be leap-frogging with other hikers throughout.


From Denver to the trailhead is about 50 miles, or about a one-hour drive. From I-70 westbound, take exit 218. You will see the parking lot even from the highway. This is a popular trail so it’s better to come early. Although the parking lot can accommodate plenty of cars, it fills up in no time.

HERMAN GULCH TRAIL – 7.5 miles round-trip

Hiking here, there are a couple of steep ascents among the trees - one at the beginning of the trail and then a final ascent to the lake. This trail offers plenty of photo opportunities. There are meadows covered with wildflowers, but the best ones begin above tree line just before arriving at the lake. Our hikes there take longer than usual when the wildflowers are at their peak, so we try to start early.

The trail crossing a meadow
The final steep ascent to the lake
Indian Paintbrush

Before the final ascent to the lake, there is a trail to the right that connects to Continental Divide Loop Trail. Its main trailhead is at Jones Pass Road, but you can follow this trail from here if you are into a long hiking expedition.

The last leg of the trail to the lake is the steepest part. But we linger by the meadows here to enjoy all the wildflowers along this section of the trail, so we don't really notice how steep it is. The meadows here are full of colorful wildflowers, that's why we always have our camera hanging from our necks. We don't want to miss the opportunity to get the best photos yet.

The steep last ascent to the lake
Colorful meadow

Herman Lake (11,979 feet) sits at the basin of Pettingell Peak (13,553 feet). Hikers tend to congregate by this lake but you can get away from the crowd. The area is wide open as you can see on the picture and you have your choice of spots to eat lunch or just relax and enjoy the view before heading back down.

Herman Lake (11,979 feet)


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