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Jasper Lake from Hessie Trailhead

Distance10.58 mi
Elevation Gain1,955 ft
My Time5 hr 19 min
DifficultyModerate to Hard*
Distance and terrain
Closest TownNederland
Food NearbyNed’s

Jasper Lake from Hessie Trailhead

The Jasper Lake from Hessie Trailhead hike is a very popular trek for hikers and campers. The Hessie area is extremely popular and gets very busy because of the beautiful hiking and series of alpine lakes in the area. The trail has some steep hills and the terrain is rocky so while it is good for most, there is some challenging portions of the hike.

Hessie Trailhead

The Hessie Trailhead is a very popular trailhead that originates several hikes just outside of Nederland, Colorado. The first portion of the hike is actually up Hessie Road. The road is passable at some points with a high clearance vehicle but spends much of the summer flooded with large boulders so most people park and walk through this section.

Hessie road with a few feet of water flooding it out and a smaller bypass trail to the right.
Hessie Road just past the Hessie Trailhead

The road isn’t too hard to hike down for the first half mile but just after the half mile point is one of the more challenging hills of the hike. The half mile long hill has inclines up to a 16% grade on a wide path with loose gravel. The gravel is almost as challenging as the incline as footing can get tricky on the loose rocks. When you get towards the top of the hill the view back toward the trailhead is pretty amazing of the valley.

A view back down the valley towards the Hessie Trailhead. There are hills on either side covered completely with tall green trees.
The view from the first big hill at Hessie

After the hill, the trail gets a bit easier and you find yourself near a waterfall and will follow the creek for another half mile until you come to the Devils Thumb Bypass trail. You can cross the creek and take this towards Lost Lake or head north and head towards Jasper Lake.

Middle Boulder Creek to the top of its banks and running with all white water from the Hessie Trail.
A fast moving Middle Boulder Creek

Heaven’s Meadow

Taking the Devils Thumb bypass to the north, next to the creek, will include a quick section of steep trail that reaches a 20% grade but is only about a tenth of a mile. It is more like steps so you can take your time. After this steep section the trail turns to more of a manageable grade for the next mile. Within that mile is one of the most lovely spaces I have seen.

A large meadow with Snow capped mountain peaks in the distance and trees on either side. A narrow trail runs down the middle of the meadow.
A big Meadow I have dubbed Heaven’s Meadow

I don’t think this really has a name but I have dubbed it Heaven’s Meadow. About 500 yards of open with trees on either side and mountain peaks in the distance. The thin and narrow trail makes the meadow seem bigger somehow. This is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Colorado. worthy of a second picture.

A large meadow with Snow capped mountain peaks in the distance and trees on either side. A narrow trail runs down the middle of the meadow.
The Indian Peaks Wilderness sign in Heaven’s Meadow

In the meadow you will cross into the Indian Peaks Wilderness before finding yourself back into some heavier trees. The heavier trees will eventually lead to a trail junction where The Devils Thumb Bypass will meet with Devils Thumb trail. Take the Devils Thumb Trail to the right to be on your way to Jasper Lake.

The Trail to Jasper Lake

Once you join the Devils Thumb trail it will be about 1.7 miles to get to the Jasper Lake/Diamond Lake split. Devils Thumb trail is pretty steep with a fairly consistent grade above 10% and close to 1000 feet of elevation gain over the 1.7 miles.

The trail becomes much more narrow here and also a lot rockier. The snow melt also uses the path as a creek in the spring and early summer causing a wet and rocky track.

The Devils Thumb Trail on the way to Jasper Lake from the Hessie Trailhead is very rocky and flooded with a few inches of water.
The rocky trail that is also a creek sometimes

This section of the trail is a combination of woods and small clearings with a couple of views but not much other than trees to look at for most of the hike. That all changes about halfway through this section of Devils Thumb when the trees fade away and give a perfect view of Skyscraper Peak.

Skyscraper Peak visible on the way to Jasper Lake from the Hessie Trailhead.
Skyscraper Peak

This strip makes the entire grind of the section worth it. After steep rocky trails to have this view kind of makes you forget about the pains in your feet and knees and be able to get reenergized again! Four and half miles from the Hessie Trailhead, and after one last steep incline, you finally come to the Jasper/Diamond Lake junction.

Jasper Lake

From the junction it is only about a half mile more to Jasper Lake. The best part is that it is the flattest half mile of the hike! The trail takes you through some thicker woods before coming upon the lake.

Jasper Lake with tall pine trees on the opposite bank in front of a rocky ridegeline.
Jasper Lake

Jasper Lake is shaped like a kidney bean and is pretty large for an alpine lake. Camping is allowed at designated sites only and campfires are not allowed. Permits are also required to camp at the lake between June 1st and September 15th.

Jasper Lake with a ridgeline in the background and trees on the surrounding banks.
Jasper Lake

For day hikers there are plenty of places around the lake to stop for snacks or a picnic and anglers enjoy fishing at the lake. There are also trails continuing on to Devils Thumb lake and Storm lake from Jasper if you are interested on a longer hike. For me, it was a perfect distance and difficulty for a longer day hike and I was happy to just enjoy some time and head back down the hill.

Distance and Elevation

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 10.58 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,955 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 10,860 feet. I was also moving for a total of 5 hours and 19 minutes.

Effort

The to Jasper Lake from the Hessie Trailhead can be pretty challenging. The trail has a good amount of elevation to it with about 2000 feet total in the 5 miles out. The path is also very rocky with some loose rock. While not overly challenging the rocks do take extra time and care to make sure the footing is good so a little bit extra effort on this one. As an out and back I would say this is close to a hard hike but I am going to list it as Moderate as a lot of people do this as an overnight and stop at the lake.

Terrain

The trails differ a bit in width and size but for the most part they are all rocky between Hessie and Jasper Lake. The Hessie area is also very crowded so be ready to deal with lots and lots of people. In the spring and early summer the river runs high and the trail can often be flooded or wet and in the winter this area gets a lot of snow so snow shoes may be necessary. The spur between the Devils Thumb Bypass trail and Jasper lake gets very steep and rocky. I would recommend a good pair of waterproof hiking boots to deal with the uneven and often wet terrain.

Access

The Jasper Lake Trail begins from the Hessie Trailhead in Nederland, Colorado. The trailhead has room for about a dozen cars on the side of the road and a couple of port-o-potties. There is a shuttle bus system on the weekends that picks up from Nederland High School and drops off at the trailhead. This is an extremely busy trailhead and it fills up very fast.

Wrapping up Jasper Lake from Hessie.

The hike to Jasper Lake from the Hessie Trailhead was a really enjoyable hike. Hessie is always busy and popular but Jasper still gave me a bit more solitude the further I got from the trailhead. The hike is longer and there are definitely some challenging sections but it was still really enjoyable.

If you are a new hiker this might be a little tough for one of your first hikes. You will also want to make sure that you have good shoes to deal with the inclines and possible water on trail. If the trail seems to be too much to you you can always turn it into a loop after the meadow and head back towards lost lake for a bit of a shorter hike. Otherwise, enjoy the lake, the meadow, the views and the challenge that makes up the Jasper Lake hike.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. Or follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

2 thoughts on “Jasper Lake from Hessie Trailhead”

  1. I saw Jasper Lake last summer while hiking the High Lonesome Loop, but it was late in the season and it had been drained quite a lot, so I was unimpressed. It looks much prettier full of water!

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