“A stroll through lush forests below 14er Mt. Lindsey.”
— Tyler Prince
Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
In the winter, the road to the trailhead is closed near the ranches, many miles below Lily Lake Trail. The land manager requests dogs be leashed, although few will be.
From Walsenburg, drive west on CO 69 into the quirky town of Gardner. The population is around 50, but what the town lacks in populace it makes up for in character: just stop by the "grocery store" for a strange experience.
From Gardner, drive 0.5 miles west of town and turn left on the Mosca Pass road. Just after the start of the road, a USFS signs should say "Huerfano and Lily Lake Trail heads," 21.5 and 22.5 miles, respectively. After 7 miles, the road turns to dirt (2WD). Continue 4.8 more miles and stay left on forest road 580. Drive 3.4 miles and enter private property, where another sign indicates Huerfano TH is 5.3 miles away. Continue 3.4 miles and stay left at the entrance to the Singing River Ranch. Drive 0.9 miles and pass the entrance to the Aspen River Ranch. From here the road is narrower and rougher, although it can still be managed with most 2WD vehicles. 4WD with decent clearance is recommended in the early summer due to erosion and standing water. Drive 3.4 miles to enter the San Isabel National Forest. Drive 0.8 miles and pass some signs for the Huerfano and Zapata Trails. Finally, come to the Lily Lake Trail in one more mile.
From the trailhead, follow clear signs to the Lily Lake Trail (there are no other trails at this TH). Head south and walk through a large meadow. From here, you can see the Blanca Massif straight ahead, with the Iron Nipple (13er) across the basin to its left. Hike one mile on mostly flat, clear terrain before coming to a trail junction with a sign for Lily Lake. Stay right (left will take you up Mt. Lindsey
Continue up through the forest on excellent trail. You'll continue to gain little elevation - just 1,500 ft over almost 3 miles from this point on. For most of the hike, Huerfano River will be on your left. At about 3 miles from the trailhead, at 11,600 ft, cross it and come to a large clearing with some boulders ahead and to your right. Loop up and back to your right, dipping briefly back into the forest. Cross the river a couple more times before coming to a brief headwall just below the lake. Continue up and reach the lake at around 12,350 ft.
Flora & Fauna
There aren't a lot of wildflowers in this area: expect lush forest down low and a grassy basin up high. Marmots and pika are everywhere, though.