If you’re in the Gunnison area in the fall, check out Lamphier Lake. With aspens on the road to the trailhead, aspens along the trail and two lakes and a pond, this is a great fall hike.
The trailhead for Lamphier Lake is next to the Gold Creek Campground, east of Gunnison (directions below). A brown sign at the trailhead directs visitors to Mill and Boulder lakes. So how do you get to Lamphier Lake? A small handwritten sign tells visitors to hike down the road a ¼ mile. Turns out, it was just a tenth of a mile to the turnoff for Lamphier Lake.
Stop at the register and sign in, then begin hiking up the old road. The trail is quite rocky so watch your footing, but also make sure you look up at the variety of trees and the shades of green. Come in the fall and the aspens here will likely put on quite a show.
About a mile from the trailhead, you’ll come to your first stream crossing. The second stream crossing is just a couple minutes away. Use the rocks or a downed tree (if it’s there) to get across the water. The third water crossing at about 1.6 miles from the trailhead is the important one. It’s about the same size as the other water crossings, but what makes this important, is that you’ll want to use it as a landmark.
About 0.2 miles from the third water crossing is a spur trail to the right. There is no sign, just a blaze on a nearby tree. The trail may even be blocked by a downed tree (or two when we visited in July 2013). However, you’ll want to look carefully for this trail because it leads to Lower Lamphier Lake. It’s just a three minute walk from the main trail to Lower Lamphier Lake.
Lower Lamphier Lake is a nice sized lake at the foot of a mountain. Even at mid-day, the nearby mountain reflected in the lake’s surface. Use the logs in the water or the wildflowers for foreground, the lake as your mid-ground and the mountain as your background. After you’ve taken your photos, return to the main trail. Just a short distance up the trail (0.1 miles), you may hear the sound of water crashing over rocks. Take one of the social trails on the left and walk a few steps to the cascading creek. It’s worth a photo of two, then return to the main trail.
Take a deep breath and start hiking up the rocky trail, again. There’s another 500 feet of elevation over the next mile to the lake. You’ll know you’re close to the lake when you see the sign that says, ”No camping, campfires or tying of stock within 100 feet of lakes or streams.” A few steps away, you may get a glimpse of the lake through the trees. As you walk a little further up the trail, look for one of the many social trails on the left that go down to the lake. If you walk too far, the trail ends at a pond on the right. After taking a couple photos of the pond, we turned left and hiked a short distance down to Upper Lamphier Lake.
Find a place to relax, take a few pictures and then just enjoy being at this beautiful place.
In the area, don’t miss Judd Falls/Copper Lake, East Maroon Pass or West Maroon Pass. If you want more hikes, check out this list of 200+ great hikes in Colorado.
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Details: The hike to both Lamphier Lakes and the pond is about six miles roundtrip with 1,700 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From Gunnison, drive east about 11 miles to the town of Parlin. Turn north (left) at mile marker 169. Drive 8.5 miles to Ohio City. Just past the city hall, turn left at the sign that says Gold Creek Campground. Take the dirt road 6.7 miles to Gold Creek Campground. At the campground, campers turn right, hikers drive straight ahead to a trailhead just a short distance away, on the left.