The Roosevelt Lakes are two small, but scenic lakes at the base of a 13,000-foot peak in the Mount Evans Wilderness. There are several ways to get to the lakes, but we picked the Tanglewood Trail #636 to the Roosevelt Lakes Trail #56.
The Tanglewood Trail is off Highway 285 near Bailey (directions below). The Tanglewood Trail winds through a thick forest, suddenly emerging at treeline. There hikers are treated to amazing views and even a Bristlecone pine forest.
The trailhead is next to a large dirt parking area with no amenities. No trash can, no bathroom, just a sign board. The hike starts on an old, dirt road. Follow the signs for the Tanglewood trail.
The trail quickly crosses the stream three times — over a bridge, on some rocks, then another bridge. That stream is Tanglewood Creek. You’ll be treated to the sounds of the water crashing over the rocks in the streambed for the next 2.5 miles or so.
The Tanglewood Trail winds through the forest for 3.5 miles. There are occasional meadows, but for the most part you are hiking through the thick forest along a stream. Then suddenly, the trail comes out of the trees into the tundra with amazing views. While the trail gains 600 feet in the next 0.7 miles, take lots of breaks to enjoy the views of the peaks above you and the numerous valleys below you. As you get closer to the saddle at the top, you’ll hike through an ancient Bristlecone forest. While some of the trees have been blown down over the years, many are still standing. The Mount Evans Wilderness is known for its 2,000 year old Bristlecone pines.
At the saddle, you’ll suddenly see into the next valley and here you’ll want a panoramic setting on your camera to try to capture the amazing scenery around you — the peaks, the valleys, the rocks, the clouds and so much more. In the distance you may notice the Mount Evans highway cutting across a mountain peak.
Many hikers stop at this saddle for lunch and the views before turning around for the trailhead. However, it’s here that the Tanglewood Trail turns into the Roosevelt Lakes Trail. Continue over the saddle, trying to stay on the intermittent trail. It’s about 0.8 miles and 200 feet of elevation drop to the lakes at the base of Rosalie Peak.
There are two Roosevelt Lakes. Both have lots of rocks and large boulders around the shoreline that can help you create interesting photos. The lakes don’t appear to be very large or deep, but because they sit at the bottom of a mountain cirque, they’re a treat.
This is a great spot for lunch before returning on the same trail.
*Note, try to watch your surroundings as you hike from the saddle to the lakes. We were unable to find the trail on the way back to the saddle and ended up hiking crosscountry toward the saddle until we found the trail.
Details: The hike to the Roosevelt Lakes is 10 miles roundtrip with 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From C-470 in Denver, take Highway 285 west about 25 miles to Bailey. Turn right on Country Road 43A. (This is the turnoff for the library and there is a gas station here.) Take the road about 6.6 miles to Country Road 43. Veer left. CR43 will become a dirt road, then pass a campground, stay on the road until it dead ends at the parking lot/trailhead.
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