Road Trip Hike: Lost Man Loop Trail 

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Earlier this summer I wrote about hiking to a few lakes on Independence Pass and noted that although the Lost Man Trail #1996 hike could be extended into a long loop hike, deep snow on the trail kept it as an out-and-back trek at that time.

I recently returned to the Lost Man Trail with the same friends who accompanied me on the original trip, time to complete it as a loop. The hike can be done clockwise or, as was our choice, counter-clockwise. There is a 4-mile gap on Independence Pass Road (Highway 82) between the start and end, so it's not a true loop and you'll need two cars to do it. Walking along the narrow, winding road occupied by drivers distracted by the scenery isn't recommended.

The directions in this slideshow are from the upper trailhead.

To get there: You will need two cars. Take US 24 west from Colorado Springs to US 285. Turn left on US 285/24 to the traffic light just past the Arkansas River, south of Buena Vista. Turn north on US 24 and follow it until Colorado 82, Independence Pass Road, and follow it for about 20 miles to the summit of the pass. Continue for another 5 miles to the Lost Man Trail parking lot, on the right, across from the Lost Man Campground. Drop off one vehicle there, then go back about 4 miles up the pass and look for an unmarked parking area on the left, next to where the Roaring Fork River cascades down some rocks and under the road. The only formal indication that you are in the right place is a small trail sign marked “Linkins Lake Trail # 1979,” about 25 feet up the obvious trail to the left of the Roaring Fork.

Happy Trails!
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Bob Falcone
A short distance from the trailhead, the Lost Man / 1996 Trail splits and enters the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. Continue straight. In the late summer the trail is easy to follow. We chose to do to this loop counter-clockwise to get the uphill climb out of the way early. Although this direction is steeper, the uphill part is shorter, with a nice long downhill after the lakes.
Bob Falcone
Around 2.5 miles and 1400 feet of elevation gain, the trail passes Independence Lake. Continue uphill past the lake to the pass that separates Independence and Lost Man Lakes.
Bob Falcone
At the top of the pass, Lost Man Lake comes into view. The rocky trail zig-zags down to the lake. This can be a tricky trail to do when snow covered, so wait until at least July to try it.
Bob Falcone
Lost Man Lake's deep blue color seems to indicate that it's much deeper than many other alpine lakes. The trail continues around to the right of the lake. From here, the hike is all downhill.
Bob Falcone
At a little over 3 miles, the trail pulls away from the lake. Watch and listen for Pika's as they scamper around the rocks gathering food. A little further down the trail, this stunning view down the valley opens up.
Bob Falcone
The view a mile or so down into the valley, looking back towards Lost Man Lake.
Bob Falcone
A approximately 5 miles the Lost Man Loop Trail meets the South Fork Pass Trail. Turn left (downhill) here.
Bob Falcone
The next 4 miles of the trail follows along the Lost Man Creek.
Bob Falcone
Some nice wooded sections of the trail provide some relief from the sun and also a softer surface.
Bob Falcone
At a bit over 7.5 miles, the trail exits the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness.
Bob Falcone
At about 8.5 miles, the trail meets the Lost Man Reservoir, where the trail continues to the left of the reservoir. At the dam on the other side of the reservoir, you can either continue straight ahead for about another half mile to the trailhead, or cross over the dam and follow a trail on the opposite side. Either way will bring you to the trailhead, and the distance is approximately the same. We chose to go over the dam and follow the trail to the trailhead.
Bob Falcone
A sign kiosk marks the end of the hike, a few feet from the lower trailhead parking lot. From here, pick up your second vehicle and shuttle back to the upper trailhead. Total distance of the hike is a little over 9 miles.
Bob Falcone
The track of this hike. We went counter clockwise, to minimize the length of the uphill portion of the trek.
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Sean Cayton11 images
Sean Cayton14 images
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Bob Falcone
A short distance from the trailhead, the Lost Man / 1996 Trail splits and enters the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. Continue straight. In the late summer the trail is easy to follow. We chose to do to this loop counter-clockwise to get the uphill climb out of the way early. Although this direction is steeper, the uphill part is shorter, with a nice long downhill after the lakes.

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