- 20 miles west of Boulder
- 9.2 mile roundtrip
- 4.5 to 5.5 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 9000 feet
- Elevation Change:
- -2200 feet
- June - October
The trail from Hessie to Woodland and Skyscraper Reservoirs follows Jasper and Woodland Creeks through forest, riparian woodland, and wet meadows and into alpine tundra. Steep stretches of trail are interspersed with more gently sloped terrain, leading the hiker to Woodland Lake, in a gentle valley, and Skyscraper Reservoir, set in a cirque basin below the Continental Divide. The entire Woodland Lake Trail is inside the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
If you choose to skip driving through the water and park on the Fourth of July Road, take the quarter mile long Columbine Trail which starts at the bottom of the first hill, just before the water. It is a recently constructed trail that bypasses the flooded part of the road and comes in at the Hessie Townsite. From the Townsite, the road continues rough and with large mudpuddles another quarter mile to the Hessie Trailhead. There is very little parking at the trailhead itself.
From the Trailhead, cross the footbridge and take the Devil's Thumb Trail #902, which climbs steeply for about a half-mile on an old road. The Devil's Thumb Bypass turns right (north) in 0.8 miles, just before the bridge. Either the Devil's Thumb Trail or the Devil's Thumb Bypass will get you to the same destination - the distance is a little longer by the Bypass. The bypass trail crosses open meadows to the north of the creek. The main trail follows an old road along the south side of the creek, staying right past junctions with the Lost Lake Trail #813 and King Lake Trail #901.
It is 1.1 miles from the trailhead to the Lost Lake Trail junction, which is right at the top of a hill. From there it is a flat 0.2 miles to the King Lake Trail junction. The Devil's Thumb Trail enters the Indian Peaks Wilderness just beyond the King Lake Trail junction. It continues fairly level another 1.0 miles to the Woodland Lake Trail junction. In places, the creek has taken over the trail, so hikers have to follow social paths along the bank. Note that the Devil's Thumb Bypass rejoins 200 yards beyond the Woodland Lake Trail, so if you take that route, you must turn left (east) to get to the Woodland Lake Trail.
Turn left (west) on the Woodland Lake Trail. It begins by climbing fairly steeply along the creek. Then it levels out and the trail becomes more obviously an old road. Woodland Lake is reached in 2 miles. Continue up the headwall above Woodland Lake another half mile to Skyscraper Reservoir.
Map + Directions
From Nederland, west of Boulder, turn west on paved County Road 130, following signs for Eldora Ski Resort and the town of Eldora.
Go through the town of Eldora.
At the end of town, continue westward as the pavement ends, following to the left at the next road fork for Hessie Trailhead.
A right at this fork and another 4 miles would bring you to the Fourth of July Trailhead.
This Trailhead sees extremely high use, especially on weekends, and parking is limited. Plan to arrive early and watch for signs along the road indicating legal parking spots.
***Please note that a stretch of the road from County Road 130 to the Hessie Trailhead is a cobblestone creek bed. It carries water year round, and runs heavily in the early summer. It is passable by 2WD vehicles, however, high clearance is recommended. There is a parallel trail so hikers can bypass the water.***