North of Empire, Colorado, Loch Lomond is a high-elevation mountain lake located near St. Mary’s Glacier. Seasonally accessible via a steep, well-trafficked 4×4 road, the scenic, Scottish-sounding Arapaho National Forest feature is located in Clear Creek County and nestled against the Great Continental Divide.
Resting at 11,200 feet in elevation, Loch Lomond is connected to Reynolds Lake, Steuart Lake, and Ohman Lake with many cascading creeks and waterfalls in the area. Near the edge of the James Peak Wilderness, a visit to Loch Lomond is full of epic views, seasonal wildflowers, and outdoor recreation opportunities.
4×4 high-clearance road
To reach Loch Lomond in a vehicle, high clearance and 4WD or AWD are required. The rocky route (Steuart Road, also known as Forest Service Road 701) is also open to mountain bikes, foot traffic, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles that are street-legal or registered with the Colorado State Parks OHV Program.
To visit Loch Lomond without a high clearance vehicle, parking is available along Steuart Rd, shortly after turning off of Alice Rd. There are no bathrooms available at the trailhead and visitors are required to pack in and pack out all of their personal items.
Every year, vehicular access to Loch Lomond is seasonally limited by a set of upper and lower gates maintained by the US Forest Service. When the parking area is closed, visitors are not permitted to leave their vehicles on Fall River Road or within the surrounding subdivisions.
Activities near Loch Lomond
While a hike, bike, or ride up Steuart Road to reach Loch Lomond is enough adventure for most people, the alpine tundra around the lake is full of opportunities for extended trips into the wilderness. Due to the elevation, visitors should be prepared for quickly changing weather conditions and summer storms. Here are some of the Arapaho National Forest activities located nearby:
Birding and wildlife: Just above the treeline, the area around Loch Lomond is home to a diverse range of resident and migratory birds, including woodpeckers, warblers, crossbills, sparrows, and more. Around the shores and into the mountains, visitors may also be able to view mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and other alpine animals.
Camping: Along the ascent to Loch Lomond, there are a few unmaintained 4×4 roads and hiking trails with many opportunities for dispersed camping. As there are no facilities on-site, campers must pack in and pack out everything they need and abide by all of the local national forest regulations.
Read about the camping near Empire and Idaho Springs.
Fishing: With a valid Colorado fishing license, anglers are welcome to fish from the shores of Loch Lomond. If the trout aren’t biting, better conditions are typically reported away from the crowds in Reynolds and Steuart Lake upstream.
Hiking: If you plan to hike to Loch Lomond along the 4×4 road, be prepared for steep, high elevation conditions. When visiting in the late fall, winter, or spring, parts of the trail may be blocked by snow, but the lake is still accessible on foot after the upper gate is closed to vehicles.
Beyond the lake itself, Loch Lomond is found very close to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. Along the CDT, hikers and backpackers can extend their trips north to Winter Park or south towards the Vasquez Peak Wilderness.
Address: Loch Lomond, Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Phone: 303-567-3000 (US Forest Service Clear Creek Ranger District)
Season: Summer and Fall
Map (PDF download): data.fs.usda.gov/… (PDF)