Hike Profiles for Rocky Mountain National Park and Surrounding Areas

Lake of the Clouds

Tucked away in a remote basin in the Never Summer Mountains, this high alpine lake is a
blue-green jewel in a sea of boulders and talus fields.


Distance: 7.0 miles one-way

Lake elevation: 11,430 feet

Trailhead elevation: 9,040 feet

Net elevation gain: 2,390 feet

Colorado River Trailhead

Rocky Mountain National Park
Lake of the Clouds
The red star in the map above shows the relative location of the lake to RMNP boundaries (in green) and major roads (in gold)
Major Trail Landmarks
Red Mountain Trail junction (0.5 miles one-way from trailhead)
Grand Ditch Road (4.0 miles one-way from trailhead)
Hitchens Gulch junction / Grand Ditch crossing (5.6 miles one-way from trailhead)
Principal Destinations Near Lake of the Clouds
Mount Cirrus (8.1 miles one-way from trailhead) - via off-trail route past Lake of the Clouds
Backcountry Campsites Near Lake of the Clouds
Hitchens Gulch [PDF Link] - (5.8 miles one-way from trailhead) - elevation 10,480' - 2 individual sites
Dutch Town [PDF Link] - (6.2 miles one-way from trailhead) - elevation 10,760' - 1 individual site
The Colorado River Trailhead is on the west side of the Continental Divide between Grand Lake and Milner
Pass. Follow Highway 34 (Trail Ridge Road) either 10 miles north of the Kawuneeche Visitor Center
or 7 miles south of Milner Pass. The large trailhead parking area is on the west side of the highway.

Follow the trail north to a junction at 0.5 mile, then turn left (west) on to the Red Mountain Trail. Cross the bridge above the Colorado River and follow the trail another 3.5 miles to the Grand Ditch service road. Turn right (north) and follow the road as it winds on level ground generally north for another 1.6 miles. Look for the trail in to Hitchens Gulch, cross the bridge over the canal, and head west past two campsites. Past the campsites, the trail begins to fade out as the terrain becomes increasingly rocky. Continue west and follow cairns across a massive boulder field. Scramble up a steep bouldered ridge, just west of the outlet stream, to the lake.
Sample photographs of the hike to Lake of the Clouds
The Grand Ditch
Trail in Hitchens Gulch
Boulder-strewn ridge en route to the lake
Howard Mountain, Lake of the Clouds
Lake of the Clouds topographic map
Principal summer trail marked by solid red line; unmaintained trail/route marked by dashed red line.
Map is oriented with north to the top of the map

USGS Quad Map: Mount Richthofen - Latitude: 40.433 deg. N - Longitude: 105.892 deg. W

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Topographic map is property of and copyrighted by Maps a la carte, Inc., and is used on this site with permission.