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High Lonesome Loop

Difficult
 4.8 (116) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A backcountry trail providing the best of high alpine running, with stunning views along the Divide.


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Map Key

15.7

Miles

25.2

KM

84%

Runnable

12,035' 3,668 m

High

8,988' 2,740 m

Low

3,162' 964 m

Up

3,162' 964 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

41%

Max Grade (22°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Organized day-use groups are required to have a permit. Day-use permits are free. Overnight campers are required to have a permit. Campfires are prohibited.

Overview

This trail traverses between the Front Range of Colorado and the ski resort of Winter Park. If you catch good weather, you can see both sides of the Continental Divide and stunning views that go for miles.

The Hessie trailhead can be a parking nightmare. On a weekend, plan on taking a free shuttle. If you can manage a weekday run, you'll miss huge crowds. The trail is congested near the trailhead, but if you do the loop you'll often leave much of the crowd behind by the time you reach the Divide.

Need to Know

There have been car break in's at this trailhead. Don't leave valuables visible in car.
Start your run early. The top is exposed and lightning can be a major concern. If you're out in the early season, such as June or early July, be prepared for a massive snow cornice above Devil's Thumb. You may have to route-find a bit to get around the cornice to the trail and traverse above.

Runner Notes

Prepare for high altitude, rocks, and roots.

Description

At the Hessie Trailhead, follow the main dirt road. It is well signed and points you in the right direction. Continue as the dirt road becomes quite steep and rocky.

At mile 1.4, you'll hit a trail marker for the Devils Thumb Bypass. Take this right turn onto singletrack and continue to climb at an easier and steady grade. You'll pass through open meadows and lush scenery.

At mile 2.7, you'll continue straight on Devils Thumb Trail and start to climb a little more in earnest. The terrain will be rocky at first, but begin to even out as you reach the grassy areas of alpine lakes. Take in the scenery as you ascend and you'll be rewarded with waterfalls and wildflowers.

Take a breather as the trail levels out by Jasper Lake and then Devil's Lake. As soon as you pass the end of Devil's Lake, the climbing begins in earnest. Through thick brush and very skinny singletrack, you'll quickly gain elevation to the top of the Divide. This may require some hands-on-knees hiking as you crest over the final pitches.

Recover at the top by taking in the magnificent views. Hopefully, you have good weather and a storm isn't chasing you down. The trail will continue to traverse along the Divide for roughly 3 miles.

Rounding a corner on the far side of the traverse, you'll drop into King Lake. You might even see some skiers coming down the glacier into the basin from this altitude. Start the fast descent as it quickly brings you off the divide into the meadows of King Lake.

Just after mile 10, stay right and continue on King Lake Trail. In less than half a mile, you'll once again stay right to remain on King Lake Trail. At 14.5 miles, Devil's Thumb Trail will meet up with you, and continue straight on what is now Devil's Thumb Trail. Continue to maintain your straight course all the way down to the trailhead. You'll see the Devil's Thumb Bypass Trail on your left and know that you've completed your lollipop. Take your tired legs back across the rocky and steep dirt road that you began on, and you'll find yourself back at the Hessie Trailhead and your car.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers cover the ground in July and August, with wildlife throughout the meadows. Catch a glimpse of the elusive ptarmigan or moose, and see plenty of marmots and chipmunks.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tiffanie Beal with improvements by Ed Quesada

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 116 votes

#6

Overall
  4.8 from 116 votes
5 Star
85%
4 Star
12%
3 Star
3%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#4

in Colorado

#6

Overall
143 Views Last Month
67,878 Since Aug 3, 2015
Difficult

0%
0%
9%
16%
74%
0%

Photos

Looking toward Devil's Thumb Peak, yeah!
Aug 25, 2015 near Fraser, CO
King Lake.
Aug 25, 2015 near Fraser, CO
View from the top
Aug 23, 2019 near Fraser, CO
A nice runnable section at high altitude
Aug 25, 2015 near Fraser, CO
Views to the east just prior to heading down on the Devil's Thumb Trail (taking loop clockwise)
Sep 28, 2018 near Fraser, CO
Continental Divide Trail 08/07/18
Sep 28, 2018 near Fraser, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 80 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Aug 24, 2022
Sarah E
Jul 30, 2022
Jenny Carson
Jul 22, 2022
Trevor Edie
Barely any snow left. 14.7mi
Jul 9, 2022
lizklevy Levy
16.2mi — 4h 59m
Oct 4, 2021
Morgan Milazzo
15.6mi
Oct 3, 2021
Levi Perigo
14mi — 4h 20m
Jul 18, 2021
Mary prunty
Wildflowers were on fire. Felt pretty terrible when I got up high, but best views I've ever seen on a run. 15.7mi — 4h 44m
Jul 16, 2021
Alexander Haeger