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Camping: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Salida Ranger District

Quick Facts

Waterdogs Lakes Trail

Beginning Elevation: 10,200 Feet (3179.6 Meters) Monarch Pass
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 10,420 Feet (3248.1 Meters)
Elevation Gain, One-way: 1,300 Feet (405.2 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,500 Feet (3584.8 Meters) Waterdogs Lakes
Length: 2.0 Miles (3.2 Kilometers)
Other Maps: San Isabel National Forest, Trails Illustrated 130
Recommended Season: Summer
Trail Number: 1417
Vehicle Accessibility: Passenger Vehicle

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

This is an easy hike of 2 miles, that begins on the western side of Monarch Pass at 10,200'. The trail climbs to 11,500' where the upper lake is located. The lakes are stocked every two years with mackinaw, and brook trout are also present. The Continental Divide can be accessed with a bit of effort. This is a nonmotorized trail. Camping is permitted no nearer than 100 ft from the lake shore. Do not drink from the lake without purifying.

Directions from Poncha Springs: Drive west on Highway 50 to road that leads to Monarch Park Campground (West of Garfield). Park your vehicle at the side of the highway and walk about 125 yards down the pass. There will be a sign directing the way to Waterdog Lakes.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: May through October .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Nancy
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This hike is very nice. We enjoyed the stream running next to the trail and the beautiful lake at the end. We went with 2 kids, 9 & 10 yrs old, who found the climb difficult but rewarding. It was hard to find the trail head. It is located between mile marker 202 and 203. Park on the south side of the road and cross the street. The trail is on the north side of the road. Once you find the trail head, the rest of the trail is easy to follow.
Conditions: The weather was cool (compared to Arizona). A rain storm formed when we got to the top of the trail. It rained all the way back but it was refreshing. The trail includes a steep rocky climb so be careful on the way down. There were no bugs.
Water Availability: There is no water along the trail nor near the lake. I suggest you bring at least a liter of water. Salty protein snacks are a must if you are hiking with kids.

Filed By: James Loranc (Spring, TX)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: The best part is the first sight of the lake; it is awesome! The hardest part is watcing your steps on the way down; there are a lot of loose rocks. The only negative on the whole trip was the debris and obstacles (timbers, small trees, large rocks) left in the trail by the hikers behind me (I encountered the debris on the way down).
Conditions: We had great weather although rain clouds began to move in around noon. The trail is mostly shaded except where it follows a short distance along a utility corridor.
Water Availability: We carried a small water bottle each (about a quart) which was plenty. There is no water available on the trail.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: This is a beautiful trail that winds its way up to the base of the continental divide, going through moderate to dense pine, anlong side a clear stream. The last 1/2 mile gets pretty steep, but the views of the basin at the top are a site to behold.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Fishing Waterdog Lakes
ICON Hiking & Walking Waterdogs Lakes Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Waterdog Lakes Trail
ICON Animal Identification Waterdog Lakes Trail
ICON Bird Identification Waterdog Lakes Trail
ICON Mushroom Identification Waterdog Lakes Trail
ICON Plant Identification Waterdog Lakes Trail
ICON Wildflower Identification Waterdog Lakes Trail

Related Activities
Monarch Park Campground - Monarch Park Campground is located high on Monarch Pass in the central Colorado Rockies. It provides access to a plethora of recreation opportunities including, but not limited to horseback riding, hiking, backpacking, four-wheeling and bike riding.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Salida Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, 325 Rainbow Blvd. , Salida, CO, 81201, Phone: 719-539-3591, Fax: 719-539-3593


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