Flat Tops Scenic Byway (10,343′), Flat Tops

Flat Tops Scenic Byway (10,343′), Flat Tops

Flat Tops Scenic Byway (10,343′), Flat Tops

Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway (County Road 8), runs through the northern portion of the Flat Tops Wilderness. The Flat Tops is Colorado’s second largest Wilderness, spanning a total of 235,214 acres.

The Flat Tops are part of the White River Plateau, with an average elevation of 10,000 feet. Approximately 110 lakes and ponds, often unnamed, dot the country above and below the numerous flat-topped cliffs. The valleys and relatively gentle land above the cliffs offers over 160 miles of trails to explore.

Trappers Lake is located at the halfway point, and is well worth a short detour.

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GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

 Starting from the east side in Yampa, take County Road 8 to the west.

The road soon begins to climb until you reach Dunkley Pass at 9,763′.

After descending the pass, the road begins to climb again very quickly until you reach the highest point on the byway, Ripple Creek Pass 10,343′.

Continuing west you soon reach the Trappers Lake turnoff. This marks the 1/2 point of the byway.

Soon after the Trappers Lake turnoff the road becomes paved the rest of the way to Meeker. Its a slow decent with large ranches in the lush valley.

Trailhead Directions

Trappers Lake (9,627′), Flat Tops

Trappers Lake (9,627′), Flat Tops

Trappers Lake (9,627′), Flat Tops

Roughly a mile and a half long and half a mile wide, reaching depths of 180 feet, Trappers Lake is the second largest natural lake in Colorado after Grand Lake. You reach the lake by taking the Flat Tops Scenic Byway from Yampa or Meeker.

The area is as wild today as it was when it was first discovered. In 1891 White River, which includes the Flat Tops, became one of the first two National Forests in the U.S.

The trail around the lake is named for Arthur Carhart, whose survey near the lake in 1919 inspired him to recommend preserving the area without development for future generations to enjoy. Arthur Carhart’s efforts set the stage for the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the National Wilderness Preservation System which includes Trappers Lake and the rest of the Flat Tops Wilderness.

The trailhead is adjacent to the beautiful Trappers Lake Overlook.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

From the end of Trappers Lake road, take the Arthur H Carhart Trail in either direction around the lake. The trailhead is next to the Trappers Lake Overlook. The trail is easy to follow in summer conditions.

Trailhead Directions

Hanging Lake (7,290′), Glenwood Canyon

Hanging Lake (7,290′), Glenwood Canyon

Hanging Lake (7,290′), Glenwood Canyon

Hanging Lake, in Glenwood Canyon, is a beautiful travertine lake formed high up in Deadhorse Canyon. The lake was formed when an acre and a half of the valley floor sheared off from a fault and dropped to what is now the shallow bed of the lake. This travertine lake is extremely sensitive, so please respect the special regulations to preserve the lake.

The beautiful turquoise colors of the lake are produced by carbonate minerals that have dissolved in the water. The fragile shoreline of the lake is composed of travertine, created when dissolved limestone is deposited on rocks, logs, and shoreline. Hanging Lake was designated a National Natural Landmark in 2011.

Hanging Lake is closed due to the impact from a 2020 wildfire. More information can be found here.

Weather

GPS Route with Elevation

Video Tour

Trail Directions

The trail is a steep and rocky scenic trail that climbs from the bottom of Glenwood Canyon, up through Deadhorse Creek Canyon, to the Lake.

The Spouting Rock trail at Hanging Lake will take you to a towering limestone wall and the source of Hanging Lake.

Trailhead Directions