11 Best Hidden Lakes In Colorado For 2024 (With Photos)

Colorado is full of secret spots and hidden gems, especially when it comes to lakes. 

From quiet, tucked-away waters to breathtaking alpine beauties, these 11 best hidden lakes in Colorado are sure to amaze you. 

Whether you love hiking, fishing, or just enjoying nature and beautiful views, there’s a lake on this list for you. 

Let’s explore these lesser-known spots where you can escape the crowds and discover the peaceful beauty of Colorado’s great outdoors.

Maroon Lake

Credit: John & Susan Hoffman

Maroon Lake, nestled in the White River National Forest near Aspen, is a quintessential Colorado beauty spot famed for its reflection of the Maroon Bells, two of the most photographed mountains in North America. 

This alpine lake offers breathtaking views, especially in the fall when the aspen trees turn a vibrant gold, creating a stunning contrast against the backdrop of the snow-capped peaks. 

Visitors can enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography at this accessible location, making it a must-visit for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Hanging Lake

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Hanging Lake is a geological wonder located in Glenwood Canyon, near Glenwood Springs. 

This National Natural Landmark is perched on the edge of a cliff and fed by waterfall, creating a unique and delicate ecosystem. 

The lake is known for its clear turquoise waters, lush vegetation, and the hanging garden plant communities that cling to the cliffside. 

The hike to Hanging Lake is steep and rigorous but offers stunning views of the canyon and waterfalls. 

Due to its fragile environment, access to Hanging Lake is regulated, and visitors must obtain a permit to hike to this extraordinary natural feature.

Lake Haiyaha

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Lake Haiyaha, nestled in Rocky Mountain National Park, is a hidden treasure known for its rugged landscape and stunning, boulder-strewn shores. 

The lake’s name, meaning “rock” in Native American language, aptly describes the scenery. 

Hiking to Lake Haiyaha is an adventure, passing through forests and over rocky paths, with the reward of breathtaking views and serene waters that reflect the surrounding peaks. 

It’s a lesser-visited lake in the park, offering a sense of solitude and connection with nature.

Island Lake

Credit: Out There Colorado

Island Lake is a hidden gem located in the San Juan National Forest, at an elevation of about 12,400 feet. 

This lake is part of the Ice Lakes trail system, which is known for its challenging hikes and rewarding views. 

The unique turquoise color of the water, due to mineral runoff from the surrounding terrain, offers a surreal backdrop against the rugged mountain peaks. 

Hiking to Island Lake is an adventure that rewards visitors with panoramic views of alpine scenery, wildflowers, and the serene beauty of this secluded lake.

Blue Lakes

Credit: Marsia Pashby

The Blue Lakes are located in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness of the San Juan Mountains, offering a trio of stunning alpine lakes (Lower, Middle, and Upper Blue Lakes) each with its own unique beauty. 

These lakes are known for their striking blue color, a result of glacial till and mineral content in the water. 

The hike to the Blue Lakes is challenging but rewards adventurers with breathtaking views of rugged mountain peaks, wildflower-filled meadows, and the serene, vividly blue waters of the lakes themselves. 

It’s an ideal spot for photography, hiking, and experiencing Colorado’s high-altitude wilderness.

Dream Lake

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Dream Lake is an easily accessible lake within Rocky Mountain National Park that offers stunning natural scenery with minimal effort. 

Located just a short hike from the Bear Lake trailhead, Dream Lake is known for its crystal-clear waters and the picturesque Hallett Peak reflection on its surface. 

The trail to Dream Lake passes other scenic landmarks, making the journey as enjoyable as the destination.

It’s a popular spot for photographers, especially at sunrise when the alpine glow lights up the surrounding peaks.

Twin Lakes

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Twin Lakes, located in the shadow of Colorado’s highest peak, Mt. Elbert, are two of the most scenic lakes in the state. 

These glacially formed lakes offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, making it a favorite for boaters, fishermen, and campers. 

The area around Twin Lakes is steeped in history, with nearby ghost towns and historic sites, adding a touch of intrigue to the natural beauty. 

The lakes are a perfect base for exploring the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, with numerous trails offering access to the backcountry.

Lake San Cristobal

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Lake San Cristobal, Colorado’s second-largest natural lake, lies in the picturesque San Juan Mountains near Lake City. 

This lake was formed by a rare natural earth slide, adding to its unique landscape and beauty. 

It’s a haven for anglers, boaters, and wildlife enthusiasts, with abundant trout populations and frequent sightings of moose and other wildlife. 

The lake and its surroundings offer a peaceful retreat with stunning mountain views, making it a perfect spot for those looking to enjoy Colorado’s natural beauty in a quieter setting.

Trout Lake

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Trout Lake lies in the Lizard Head Wilderness near Telluride, offering serene beauty and a peaceful escape from the busier tourist spots. 

This lake is known for its clear waters, abundant trout fishing, and the spectacular reflections of the surrounding San Juan Mountains. 

The area around Trout Lake is popular for hiking, mountain biking, and photography, especially in the early morning or late evening when the light casts a magical glow on the landscape.

Lake Dillon

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Lake Dillon, also known as Dillon Reservoir, is a large man-made lake located in Summit County, surrounded by the ski towns of Dillon, Frisco, and Silverthorne. 

It’s a hub for summer and winter activities, offering sailing, fishing, kayaking, and stunning mountain views. 

The lake is known for its beautiful marina and the Dillon Amphitheater, where visitors can enjoy concerts with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. 

The surrounding area provides ample opportunities for hiking and biking, with trails offering panoramic views of the lake and its mountainous surroundings.

Molas Lake

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Molas Lake, situated south of Silverton along the Million Dollar Highway, offers campers and visitors breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains. 

This lake, at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, is known for its clear, cold waters and scenic camping spots. 

It’s a perfect starting point for hikes into the surrounding wilderness areas, offering a mix of tranquility and adventure. 

The lake’s proximity to the Colorado Trail makes it a favorite among hikers and backpackers looking for a picturesque campsite.