Trap Lake is a shallow, natural body of water found near Cameron Pass, which occupies roughly 10 acres of surface area in Larimer County. Located between Gould and Rustic, the remote lake lies within the Roosevelt National Forest at approximately 9,950 feet above sea level.
Nestled into a narrow valley between the Comanche Peak Forest and the Neota Wilderness, Trap Lake is surrounded by seasonal wildflowers and classic Colorado views, including Iron Mountain and Flattop Mountain to the south. The extremely scenic alpine lake is found along Trap Creek, which flows north to Chamber’s Lake, into Joe Wright Creek, and eventually to the Cache La Poudre River.
Named after the many bear traps that settlers once built in the area, Trap Lake is now primarily used for fishing, viewing wildlife, and camping. There are no restrooms, water, or trash facilities available onsite, and all visitors must leave no trace to protect the natural wilderness.
Activities near Trap Lake
Despite its remote location, Trap Lake can be very busy during the summer and fall with Front Range tourists looking for a breath of fresh air. Managed by the US Forest Service, the lake is free to access 24 hours a day, and many outdoor activities are permitted.
Boating: For fishing or simply enjoying the serenity of the alpine waters, non-motorized boating is permitted on Trap Lake. With a small hike required to reach the water, boaters should be prepared to carry their kayaks, canoes, floats, or stand-up paddleboards down to the shore before launching.
Camping: Campsites are not permitted near Trap Lake, but primitive camping opportunities are available in the surrounding wilderness. Campfires are allowed when in season, and overnight visitors should familiarize themselves with all of the National Forest’s local backpacking and camping guidelines and regulations prior to their arrival.
Fishing: As the lake’s most popular recreational attraction, Trap Lake’s shallow and clear waters create great conditions for cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing. Stocked by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Department since the early 1970s, licensed anglers can enjoy a tremendous day of shore or boat fishing at Trap Lake, with a healthy population of trout ready to be caught.
Hiking: Beyond the short walk down to the water, the Trap Park Trail (#995) leads explorers through a boulder field before making a switchback to follow an old logging road up to the scenic Trap Park. Rising just 500 feet in elevation over 3.1 miles, the out and back trail leads to the boundary with the Neota Wilderness,
In total, the 6.2-mile round-trip provides hours of family-friendly hiking potential. All dogs must be kept on a leash, and backpackers are encouraged to seek out campsites that have already been established. In the winter, the trail is also very popular for cross-country skiing.
Horseback riding: Equestrian travel is permitted on the Trap Park Trail, and all hay for stock must be certified weed-free.
Hunting: Seasonal big and small game hunting is available near Trap Lake. Especially popular for elk and other antlered trophies, proper licensing and permitting are required for hunting in the Roosevelt National Forest land that surrounds the water.
Wildlife and birding: The dense foliage in and around Trap Lake and its nearby waters provide a healthy ecosystem for everything from mosquitoes to moose. Visitors should never approach or feed wildlife under any circumstances and encounters with elk, deer, bear, marmots, boreal toads, wood frogs, and more are possible.
In the air and brush, birdwatchers will also enjoy the alpine environment’s variety of species, including Steller’s jays, nuthatches, finches, woodpeckers, crossbills, and owls found in the area.
Getting to Trap Lake
To reach Trap Lake, begin by navigating to the beautiful, winding Poudre Canyon Road (State Highway 14) between Walden and Fort Collins. The lake is approximately a 20-minute drive northeast of Cameron Pass, and the turnoff of Poudre Canyon Road is found directly across the highway from the Blue Lake Trail Head.
From CO-14, turn onto Forest Road #156 also known as Long Draw Road. Just over three miles ahead, look for the Trap Lake Trailhead parking lot on your right, where there is room for about 11 vehicles.
At the trailhead, a short hike through a dense forest is required to get down to the water. Shore space is limited, but there is plenty of room to enjoy the scenery, fish, or launch a boat.
In the winter and spring, potentially muddy conditions may limit vehicular access to Long Draw Rd at Highway 14. When the forest service gate is closed, visitors can park in the Long Draw Road Winter Trailhead parking lot which is found just north of the turnoff of CO-14.
Before driving to the lake, you can attempt to confirm whether or not Long Draw Rd access will be open with the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forests.
Coordinates: 40°33’28.4″N 105°48’58.3″W
Phone: 970-295-6700 (Canyon Lakes Ranger District)
Season: Year-round (Access limited in winter and spring)