Powderhorn Lakes

Distance: 7.8 - 9.6 miles (round trip)

Powderhorn Wilderness, Gunnison BLM, near Lake City in Southwest Colorado

Lower Powderhorn Lake

Lower Powderhorn Lake


An interesting hike through forest and meadows to a scenic lake basin nestled beneath the eastern escarpment of the Calf Creek Plateau (12,644-ft.) in the Powderhorn Wilderness.
See Trail Detail/Full Description

  • Distance: 9.6 miles (round trip)
  • Elevation: 11,140-ft. at Trailhead
    Maximum elevation: 11,870-ft.
  • Elevation Gain: 1,050-ft.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • More Hikes in:
    Lake City / Southwest Colorado

Why Hike Powderhorn Lakes

In the northern reaches of the San Juan Mountains lies the Powderhorn Wilderness, a rugged, glacier carved landscape consisting of large expanses of alpine tundra, spruce forests, and several alpine lakes at nearly 12,000-ft. The wilderness harbors two huge plateaus over 12,000-ft., the Cannibal Plateau and the Calf Creek Plateau, that make up the largest relatively flat expanse of alpine tundra in the lower 48 states. The plateaus were created by Tertiary volcanic deposits that are believed to be 5,000-ft. thick in some place.

The Powderhorn Lakes lay in a huge glacial-chiseled cirque beneath the eastern side of the Calf Creek Plateau in the heart this incredible wilderness. The cirque’s steep rock walls rise 450-ft. to 700-ft. from the lakeshores to the plateau.

An interesting trail travels through a diverse landscape of forests and meadows to the pretty lake basin. The lakes are set amid meadows surrounded by trees. The Powderhorn Lakes trail connects with other trails leading to the high plateaus and the Devil’s Lake trail, offering opportunities for extended backpacking trips in the area.

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile Powderhorn Lakes Trail

Best Hiking in Southwest Colorado around Ouray, Telluride and Silverton

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Trail Resources

Trail Detail/Full Description / Trail Photo Gallery / Trail Map

Basecamp(s) Information:
Lake City

Region Information:
Southwest Colorado

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