LOST LAKE LOOP
posted by Bill Houghton
WHAT TO KNOW: The trail depicted on the USGS map is not a loop. You must be a bit adventurous, have good map reading skills, come properly equipped to deal with adverse environmental conditions, deal with stream crossings and go dancing with the willows to follow the route shown here. If you are comfortable with bushwhacking, don’t mind a bit of off trail adventure, and are prepared to deal with wet conditions, this route is for you. The alternative, obviously, is to go out and back on the depicted trail on the USGS map. (Key hike details and images follow.)
GETTING THERE: From the intersection of Hwy 24 and I-25 in downtown Colorado Springs, take Hwy 24 west to the town of Buena Vista. In the center of town at a traffic signal is the left turn to Cottonwood Pass (County Road 306). Drive west on 306 for 17.3 miles to a sharp hairpin turn with a short paved side road at the turn. Park here.
ON THE TRAIL: From the description above, it should be apparent that there is no trail to start. The short side road ends at a locked gate but continues on the other side as a dirt road. Shortly thereafter the road splits, take the right fork. The dirt road continues with slight up and downs for about 1/2 mile. When you come to the stream that comes down from just north of Lost Lake, leave the road and follow the stream on the north side. If you are observant, you will note orange diamonds on an occasional tree. Watch across the stream for a diamond because you do eventually have to cross. Following the diamonds will lead you to a large field of willows. Do not be quick to assume you have to cross the willows here but continue to follow the diamonds. The trail on the map is across the willows. The diamonds should take you up a ridge above the marsh and eventually join the trail on the map. There are a couple of steep sections just before the lake and you will have to cross the outflow but hopefully above the willows. The official trail on the return does cross several marshy areas without the benefit of a bridge. The reward is a small, lovely unnamed lake. Once you reach the Cottonwood Pass Road (CR 306) turn right and descend along the road to the hairpin turn and your car.
Let us know how you liked this hike! Thanks, Bill.