|Elevation Gain||253 ft|
|My Time||50 min|
|Food Nearby||Trinidad Smokehouse|
Trinidad Lake State Park Loop
The Trinidad Lake State Park Loop is an easier trail through the self guided Levsa Canyon trail and provides some amazing views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. While it is easier there is a small amount of elevation gain and some rocky terrain.
The hiking trails in Trinidad Lake State Park start at a small trailhead in the Carpios Ridge campground. There is parking for a few cars and the trail heads are opposite of the larger building at the campground. The trails start with a wide trail that leads past a park and towards the ridge.
About a tenth of a mile down the trail the trail splits. The trail to the right is what takes you on the main Trinidad Lake loop. I of course continued straight and took the very long way around. While the long way has some nice views, there is a relatively steep trail to continue from here and the trail might be closed but more on that next.
Continuing down the trail to the eastern loop the trail descends immediately from the junction and in a tenth of a mile you will drop down about 50 feet of elevation. Nothing too bad but the terrain is rock and the footing gets a little challenging. at the bottom of the hill the trail will narrow and cut across the middle of the hill you are on. From here you have some pretty impressive views of the lake.
The trail across the middle of the hill gradually increases in elevation and runs across the hill for a tenth of a mile. The incline across of the hill does get to a 12% grade so it gets a little steep. After the tenth of a mile the trail comes back up at a campsite at the campground. There was a sign that said the trail was closed but it wasn’t blocking the trail so I am not sure if the trail is closed or if that is just a temporary sign they can put up depending of the weather.
Once you make it up to the campground there is a small fence and the trail becomes paved and takes you through the campground and past some gathering areas and to the main ranger station. From there you can take the short walk back to the trailhead to start the loop all over again.
If I would have gone to the right at the junction I would have taken the proper loop. The proper loop is the Levsa Canyon self guided tour. The trail passes through a couple of the outer campsites and then into the woods. There are markers are the trial to point out some of the sights from the self guided section. The trail will travel through the woods for about a third of a mile to the north before turning and following the top of a ridgeline. From here you are still in some woods but will have sporadic views of the surrounding mountains and the lake.
As you head south and start to turn back to the east, the views really open up from the top of the ridge overlooking Trinidad Lake. The trees mostly clear out and the views are spectacular from this southern point of the ridge. There is a relatively steep descent, around 12%, to get to the southern point that is rocky so take your time.
The southern ridgeline lasts for another three tenths of a mile and the views get better with each step.
As you move closer and closer to the eastern point of the ridgeline the view of Fishers Peak starts to come into focus. Fishers Peak is the largest peak in Trinidad so it looks to tower over the whole park.
When you make it to the eastern edge of the ridge you will turn to the north and head back towards the campground and you will again be in the woods for the rest of the hike. As a side note, I took this hike late in the evening close to sunset and it made the views of the lake that much more amazing. A nice shorter hike that is relatively easy and the views can’t be beat.
I have put together this video of the western loop of the hike. This is a time-lapsed version of the hike to ggive you a feel for what the hike would be like. If you enjoy this video make sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel. It is free and will give you the latest updates.
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 1.94 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 253 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 6,435 feet. I was also moving for a total of 50 minutes.
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The accidental loop that I took to begin the hike was a bit challenging. The trail took be down beneath the campground and took me across the middle of the hill on a narrow path. When I came up on the other side of the trail near the campground there was a trail closed sign so I am not sure if this trail was really open.
The proper side of the loop was wider and a bit easier to handle. There was some elevation gain and a rocky path but it isn’t overly challenging. For those who aren’t comfortable on trails there might be a bit a tough spot on the far western section of the loops where the trail narrows a bit. Overall, I think most moderately experienced hikers will be able to handle the trail.
For the most part the trails are hard packed dirt but as you get closer to some of the inclines get a little rocky. The trail on the eastern hill his pretty narrow as you go up the hill. I would suggest a good pair of hiking shoes or boots that have some grip to help with traction on the inclines and rocky sections.
Trinidad Lake State Park is just west of downtown Trinidad in Southern Colorado. There is a fee of $9 per vehicle to enter the park or you can enter with a yearly state parks pass. The parking area for the trailhead is within the campground. It has about 4 or 5 spots available and there was no restroom available for the hikers. It is a small area directly across from the large building in the campground.
Wrapping up the Trinidad Lake State Park
I really enjoyed my time at Trinidad Lake State park. The views from above the lake are pretty amazing and the view was present for the majority of the hike. The hike isn’t too challenging but there is a few tricky spots with some bigger elevation that might be a challenge for some.
I think for most people the west loop would be the more appropriate hike to take. I don’t know that the East loop is always open so make sure you check before making your choice. Otherwise just enjoy some amazing views of the lake and if you can go around sunset it is that much better!
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