It’s hard to beat a hike with promises four lakes and several waterfalls. That’s what you get on the hike to Loch Lomond and beyond.
Depending on your vehicle, the trail is a rocky Jeep Road that starts as Stewart Road and becomes Forest Road 701.2 (directions below). The sign for the Stewart Road turnoff says “Parking .36m, Loch Lomen (their spelling, not mine) 2.3 m.” About a third of mile from that sign, you’ll find an open gate with about 6 or 7 parking spots. We picked a spot, grabbed our stuff and and headed up the road. We were quickly passed by ATV’s, a motorcycle and a truck. We decided to keep hiking and not turn around for our truck.
About 0.4 of a mile from the first gate, we found a surprise. The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) crosses Stewart Road here. It’s not easy to see, the CDT is marked by a simple wooden sign with a CDT on it. We kept going up the Jeep road.
About 0.75 miles from the first gate we came to a sign warning that we were approaching a seasonal gate that opens July 15th. The sign said to “Park here, no turn around at gate.” Since we were hiking, we continued on.
As you approach the gate, the hike improves dramatically. Suddenly the trees get thinner, the views of the surrounding mountains get easier to see and cascading Fall River appears next to the trail.
After the seasonal gate, you cross Fall River. From here, the trail gets busier with campers. We found several groups camped in clumps along the road.
Loch Lomond itself was a surprise. We saw a man-made bank as we approached. That’s Loch Lomond. It was apparently dammed at some point. However, don’t let that or the Jeep road stop you from visiting this gem. Loch Lomond sits at the bottom of a rocky basin with high peaks and a cascading waterfall as its inlet stream.
At Loch Lomond, take the time to walk to the shoreline for a photo. Find a place where you can see the inlet waterfall in your picture.
After photos, it’s time to search for a trail. From the parking area for Loch Lomond, we found a road-like trail going up, but then we lost the trail. After some bushwhacking, we found the trail by the lakeshore, then climbed up a steep hill. From Loch Lomond to Reynolds Lake, the hike is just a half mile, but the trail is steep and there’s 300 feet of elevation gain.
Reynolds Lake is very scenic. It sits in a bowl beneath a rocky peak. Walk the shoreline to a dam and a better view of the waterfall to Loch Lomond and the Loch itself.
This is a great spot for lunch, but let’s continue on first. Just 0.15 miles from Reynolds Lake is Stewart Lake.
After a quick stop, it’s time for the hike to Ohman Lake. One warning, this part of the hike isn’t hard, but your feet are probably going to get wet. First, look for a faint trail in between Reynolds and Stewart lakes. The willow trees are a bit thick here and there’s a stream in between the two lakes that you have to cross, but it’s worth it. After that, you’ll walk past a cascade, climb over some rocks and possibly lose the trail a time or two, but Ohman Lake is just up ahead about 0.4 miles from Stewart Lake.
Ohman Lake may be a seasonal lake, meaning it’s probably larger during the spring melt and smaller in the fall. The best part about Ohman Lake may be the waterfall in the same cirque. From here, it’s another 700 feet in elevation gain up to Ice Lake, but we couldn’t find a trail, so we decided this was our turn around spot. Now you get to decide, which lake did you like best? The answer should help you pick a lunch spot.
Details: From the intersection of Alice and Stewart road to Loch Lomond and the next three lakes is about 6.9 miles with 1,200 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: Interstate 70 west from Denver. Take exit 238, Fall River Road. Turn right on Fall River Road and drive 8.4 miles to Alice Road/CR 275 (dirt). Pass Silver Creek, Pass Harris Dr. Turn right on Stewart Road. Passenger cars should park at this intersection or drive another 0.36 miles on a rocky, pothole filled road to the parking area. If you have a vehicle with some clearance, you can drive to Loch Lomond.
Important note: If possible, you should avoid this area on the weekends. Loch Lomond is VERY popular with fishermen, campers and off-road enthusiasts. If you come on a weekend, expect a LOT of traffic and people. Come mid-week and you’ll likely see very few people.