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  • Writer's pictureVien R. Guenther

Silver Dollar and Murray Lake - Arapaho National Forest, Colorado

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

This is one of our favorite trails in Arapaho National Forest. We hike here in mid-summer for the wildflowers and in autumn for the fall colors. Either times are the best time of year to hike here. This trail also offers three beautiful lakes and stunning views.


From Denver to the main trail is about 1 hour 15 minutes drive via I-70, the shortest route. Take Exit 228 to Georgetown, driving through town follow the road to Guanella Pass. You will find the sign for the trail on the right with a small parking lot. This is where we park, but there is a bigger parking on the other side of the road. If you want to cut short your hike, follow the Naylor Lake Road to another parking area. It’s less than a mile but you have to have a high clearance vehicle, it’s a rough road.


Naylor Lake below

On the first mile of the hike, you will be in the shadow of the trees. Not much to see among the trees but the view will open soon enough and you will get a glimpse of the first lake - Naylor Lake. You have to veer off the trail a bit to see the lake and you can only look down on it because this is a private lake.

As you get higher, you will get a good view of Naylor Lake. With trees out of the way, you will get a good view of the surrounding terrain also. You will find wildflowers along the trail here as well, but the best ones are above Silver Dollar Lake, going up to Murray Lake.

On the way to Silver Dollar Lake, there is a section on the trail where the snow still lingers late into summer. You have to be careful here since you don't want to slide down into the rocks below.

Trail to Silver Dollar Lake
Avalanche area

Not far beyond this is Silver Dollar Lake, so called due to its round shape when looking down at it from above. Most hikers end their hike here, but they are missing the best views of all on this trail. If you continue hiking the trail above Silver Dollar Lake you will experience the best part of this hike. The trail is quite steep. But higher up, look back and you will see a beautiful view of Naylor Lake and Silver Dollar Lake. The view alone is worth the extra mile to the upper lake. Not only that, along this steep trail is where you will find the best wildflowers on this hike. The slopes are covered with different varieties and colors. The abundance of wildflowers varies every year though, depending on the weather conditions and how much snow the mountains got in the past winter. I' would say that the best time is late July to early August.

View of Naylor Lake and Silver Dollar Lake from the trail to Murray Lake

I can't say which is my favorite aspect of this hike, the wildflowers or the view. I would say both. This area is completely transformed by the seasons, and autumn offers a very different experience for hikers.

Wildflowers along the trail to Murray Lake
View of Naylor Lake from the trail to Murray Lake
To Murray Lake
Murray Lake

Hiking here in Autumn, you will find that the colorful wildflowers covering the meadows are gone, and the green foliage has turned to gold and rust. It's a wonderful and different landscape all together. There are less crowds at this time of year as well. In any season, you will get a great view towards across toward Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt.

Murray Lake and Square Top Mountain in Autumn


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