As the name implies, Hermit Lake is an isolated body of water, located way up at 11,314 feet in elevation west of Westcliffe, Colorado. Hermit Lake is found within the San Isabel National Forest and can be accessed via a short out & back trail.
Although it is small, Hermit Lake is a moderately trafficked destination because of its incredibly scenic alpine atmosphere. It is found in Custer County, tucked in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains north of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
To avoid confusion, it is important to know that Hermit Lake is not a part of the Hermit Lakes, which is a system of water found in the Rio Grande National Forest, between Creede and Lake City, Colorado.
Hermit Lake Accessibility
To reach the trailhead, a high clearance, a 4WD vehicle is recommended, as the road becomes very rough a few miles before the trail. Parking is also limited at the trailhead.
Access to the Hermit Lake Trail is open for hiking, mountain biking, and OHVs. In the winter, the road is also accessible via snowshoes, cross country skis, and snowmobiles while it is covered in snow and closed to motor vehicles.
Activities at Hermit Lake
For many visitors, the journey is the destination when traveling to Hermit Lake. The scenic drive and short hike leaves most people breathless, sometimes literally, in the high elevation terrain. At the shore, visitors are greeted with clear, fishable water surrounded by staggering peaks, glaciers, and rugged pines.
Camping: Backcountry camping is permitted near Hermit Lake (at least 100 feet from a water source), with a few obvious spots scattered around the forest. There are also dispersed camping areas along County Rd 160.
Read about the camping near Westcliffe and Rye.
Fishing: Fishing is permitted in Hermit Lake so far as anglers have a valid CO fishing license. Conditions are usually great, as the small lake is home to a healthy population of native cutthroat and brook trout.
Trails: The Hermit Lake Trail is an out and back route with no designated trail access beyond the lake. For this reason, Hermit Lake is a popular side-trip for OHVs ultimately summiting Hermit Pass.
Swimming: Swimming is permitted in Hermit Lake, but the icy waters are reserved only for the brave.
Additional activities can be found in the San Isabel National Forest.
Address: Hermit Lake Trailhead, Co Rd 160, Westcliffe, CO 81252
Coordinates: 38°05’36.2″N 105°37’54.0″W
Season: May to November
Maps: Hermit Lake Area Topo Map (PDF)