Hiking Lily Pad Lake

I was excited for this weekend because I had a friend visiting me from out of town and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take a scenic hike and see some wonderful parts of Colorado. I decided on Lily Pad Lake because someone recommended it and said it was an easy hike with beautiful views. It is located in the city of Silverthorne and took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there. Silverthorne itself is a popular destination for outlet mall shopping so I hope to go back there one day and check all that out. When we got to the trailhead, I was surprised to see that even for a weekend day, it wasn’t that crowded. I also saw a lot of families, so that gave me the confidence that if a little kid could do it, I could do it too! We also brought my Lab, Owen, because what is a hiking adventure without his entertaining antics?


The first hundred yards or so is straight up and I was told this is the hardest part of the trail, so it made me feel better knowing that the trail doesn’t continue like that the whole way through. When you get to the top, you are rewarded with the first breathtaking view. I was surprised to see the hundreds of trees that were chopped down, which I found out was due to a pine beetle outbreak.


The terrain itself is interesting as the roots from the trees are exposed and almost act as staircases to lead you up the trail. It was also very rocky and muddy in some areas from all the streams that flow through. Because of all the water, there were a ton of bugs and mosquitoes. We would have been able to enjoy it a little bit more if we sprayed ourselves with bug spray beforehand!


The first body of water you come to is a cute beaver pond. I was hoping to see a beaver at work on one of the dams, but unfortunately, I learned later that beavers typically only come out during dusk and dawn. Continuing on the trail, there were bridges and fallen trees to help you cross the more wet, muddy areas. Of course, Owen embraced the mud.


After crossing streams, bridges, and leaping across mud ponds, we were starting to realize the trail isn’t exactly what I would say “easy”. The input I received was, “Oh you won’t even break a sweat!” But in reality, our heart rates were up and there was definitely some perspiration. In fact, we were really starting to regret that stop at Wendy’s for cheeseburger snacks before starting our nature hike.

The trail is really easy to follow, and there was only one fork. You would practically have to try to get lost. We also passed by some park rangers and I heard that is pretty common. So if you are bringing your furry tail-wagger, be sure to keep him/her on a leash!


Salt Lick Trail is a neighborhood trail that leads back into town, so don’t go that way.

Once you get to Lily Pad Lake, it is truly magnificent. There were hundreds of lily pads and it looked so unreal, like something that could only be seen in a National Geographic magazine. IMAG0342

OK I admit I broke the rules and let Owen off his leash once we got to the lake. He immediately surged in and looked so happy swimming around until he accidently got a mouthful of water after he tried to retrieve one of those lily pads.


After you enjoy Lily Pad Lake, you can continue on down where there is a second lake with a beautiful view of Buffalo Mountain in the backdrop. We found a big rock and ate our packed lunches in a hurry so we didn’t end up being a snack for the relentless mosquitoes.


We trekked back the way we came which was not as bad; by that point we mastered the art of long jumping across mud ponds. At the end of it all, we both somehow managed to keep our feet dry and free of mud. (But I can’t say the same for Owen!) Because of all the different features of this trail, I would recommend it for anyone of all types. Especially for out of town visitors, like my friend, because she thoroughly enjoyed it. I also read that lily pads bloom in the late spring and early summer, so we picked a perfect time to see them. The next time you want to venture to a unique, less crowded trail and is doggie paradise for your four-legged companion, I suggest giving this one a try! Just don’t forget the bug spray.

Details: Round trip the hike is 3.3 miles long with 400 feet of elevation gain. Skill level is (somewhat) easy. The trail is at an elevation of 9,800 – 10,000 feet, so it could pose a challenge for effortless breathing.

Getting there: Take I-70 to exit 205. Turn north (right if you’re coming from Denver), and then make a left at the first light onto Wildernest Road. Wildernest Road becomes Ryan Gulch Road. After you go about 3 1/2 miles, you will see cars parked on the left side of the road and the trailhead will be on your right.


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