Kilpacker Trail to Navajo Lake

Distance: 11.8 miles (round trip)

Lizard Head Wilderness, San Juan National Forest, near Telluride in Southwest Colorado

Gladstone Peak rising above the eastern end of Navajo Lake

Gladstone Peak rising above the eastern end of Navajo Lake


This alternative route travels through forest and then joins the Navajo Lake trail, a popular hike to a pretty alpine lake basin surrounded by high peaks. The combined route involves less elevation gain then the Navajo Lake trail but is 2.6 miles (round trip) longer.
See Trail Detail/Full Description

  • Distance: 11.8 miles (round trip) to Navajo Lake
  • Elevation: 10,060-ft. at Trailhead
    11,154-ft. at Navajo Lake
  • Elevation Gain: 1,094-ft. to Navajo Lake
  • Difficulty: moderate-strenuous
  • More Hikes in:
    Telluride / Southwest Colorado

Why Hike Kilpacker Trail to Navajo Lake

There are two access routes to the Navajo Lake basin from the south, the Navajo Lake trail and the Kilpacker trail. The two trails meet and share the final 2.4 miles of the Navajo Lake trail to the lake.

The Kilpacker trail starts higher (10,060-ft. versus 9,320-ft.) and does not involve as much elevation gain, but is longer adding 1.3 miles to the one way distance. (The Kilpacker Trail replaces the initial 2.2 miles of the Navajo Lake trail with a 3.5 mile segment.) It should be noted that the Kilpacker trail loses elevation to reach the Navajo Lake trail junction, making the net elevation difference about 520-ft.

Views on the Navajo Lake trail are better, steadily improving as you climb. The Kilpacker trailhead, located in a large meadow to the west of Morgan Camp, initially features great views of the surrounding peaks as it heads northwest through the meadows. At 0.6 miles the trail enters a mixed conifer forest with only occasional views until it meets the Navajo Lake trail.

Elevation Profile

Kilpacker Trail to Navajo Lake Elevation Profile

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:

Region Information:
Southwest Colorado

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