Boulder, CO: Skyscraper Reservoir

This 10.5-mile out and back promises wildflower drenched meadows, stunning vistas, and two pristine alpine lakes perfect for a cold dip or sunrise photo op.
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This 10.5-mile out and back promises wildflower drenched meadows, stunning vistas, and two pristine alpine lakes perfect for a cold dip or sunrise photo op.

The trailhead may be popular, but don’t let that detour you. Plan on arriving early in the morning to secure a parking space along Fourth of July road and begin this route with a steady 0.5-mile climb along a jeep road littered with loose gravel and ankle-breaking boulders.

In TK miles (WLH001-WLH003) cross over North Fork Middle Boulder Creek onto Devils Thumb trail and continue steadily climbing under a thick canopy of aspen and old growth spruce. During early summer months the trail is littered with seasonal wildflowers including Indian paintbrush and columbine.

Cross over several small seasonal streams and emerge into a sprawling meadow chocked full of flowers and chest-high grass. Turn left onto the Woodland Lake trail and start a steep steady climb flanked by to seasonal streams.

After TK miles (WHL009 – WHL011) emerge from the tree line to find Woodland Lake to the south. Drink in views of the valley below before continuing TK (WHL011-WHL012) miles to Skyscraper Reservoir. To return, simply execute a u-turn and follow the route back to your car.

~ Mapped by Tim Shisler

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.5

Waypoints

SKY001

Location: 39.951555, -105.594835

From the trailhead begin hiking northeast along an unmarked trail paralleling the 4-wheel drive access road to Hessie trailhead.

SKY002

Location: 39.95364, -105.59814

Turn right @ T-junction onto 4-wheel drive access road. Continue along the road passing private property on both sides.

SKY003

Location: 39.954831, -105.602719

Cross over Hessie Creek and continue hiking east along the trail. Winds through aspen stands while steadily gaining elevation en route to Woodland Lake.

SKY004

Location: 39.955383, -105.608262

Take a second and drink in long views to the east. Eldora ski resort can be spotted to the southeast.

SKY005

Location: 39.955463, -105.612907

Continue straight @ 3-way junction with Devils Thumb Bypass trail. Cross over North Fork Middle Boulder Creek, and steadily continue climbing along Devils Thumb Trail.

SKY006

Location: 39.954334, -105.616636

Turn right @ Y-junction onto the Woodland Lake trail.

SKY007

Location: 39.953834, -105.619723

Cross the creek and enter a large meadow drenched in seasonal wildflowers during July and August. Directly ahead to the west is Devils Thumb Mountain.

SKY008

Location: 39.954606, -105.622029

Cross into Indian Peaks Wilderness. Permits are required for camping beyond this point.

SKY009

Location: 39.962859, -105.632705

Turn left @ Y-junction and continue hiking along the Woodland Creek Trail. The trail quickly begins to gain elevation winding through thick vegetation and aspen stands. During late June and early July the trail is consistently muddy, but passable.

SKY010

Location: 39.96215, -105.639832

Continue across the creek and follow a wide drainage up towards Woodland Lake.

SKY011

Location: 39.955154, -105.665261

Woodland Lake: The first of two lakes, Woodland Lake is teaming with cutthroat trout and is an ideal spot to pitch a tent for a night or two. To access Skyscraper Reservoir follow the trail west for TK miles.

SKY012

Location: 39.9556, -105.670378

Skyscraper Reservoir: This 12 acre reservoir is packed with cutthroat trout and framed by Skyscraper Peak (12,383 ft.) to the west. Several off-trail routes lead up to the peak, but a good topo map and navigation skills are required.

To continue back to the trailhead, simply make a U-turn and retrace your steps to WLH001

Skyscraper Reservoir

Location: 39.955434, -105.670881

This 12-acre reservoir is packed with cutthroat trout and is less than 30-feet deep. Early morning sunrise shots catch the lake reflecting the surrounding mountains.

Private Property

Location: 39.952846, -105.596337

Private property lines most of the first few miles of trail.

Early Morning Light

Location: 39.954589, -105.604835

Creek Crossing

Location: 39.954236, -105.61743

Cross one of the many seasonal creeks along this route.

Wildflowers

Location: 39.954918, -105.623288

A lone Indian paintbrush sticks out from the tall green grass.

Wildflower

Location: 39.961168, -105.631227

A lone columbine soaks up some early morning sun.

Cascade

Location: 39.955807, -105.655389

One of the many cascades along the Woodland Lake Trail.

Woodland Lake

Location: 39.955214, -105.664616