Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake, East Portal Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado
Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake - 8.7 miles
East Portal Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.7 miles (includes both lakes)|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,211' - 11,310' (11,347' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,099' net elevation gain (+2,273' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake - 8.7 Miles Round-Trip
Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake are located 4.05 miles and 4.35 miles from East Portal Trailhead in the James Peak Wilderness. They occupy adjacent terraces in a large alpine basin just below the Continental Divide.
The trail follows South Boulder Creek to its headwaters at Rogers Peak Lake, and on through treeline to Heart Lake. These are popular backcountry destinations with limited campsites at each lake. Backpackers should get an early start during peak season to secure space and avoid crowds:
Follow signs right (north) of Moffat Tunnel to the South Boulder Creek Trail. It rises past the tunnel through intervals of aspen, spruce and meadow to the Arapaho Lakes - Forest Lakes split (1.25 miles : 9,545') and Crater Lakes split (1.85 miles : 9,925').
The trail crosses two bridges over Clayton Creek (2.2 miles : 10,038') and continues steadily in a moss-draped forest to a second tributary bridge (2.6 miles : 10,235')
A variously rocky and rooted climb leads to a cascade (3.48 miles : 10,742'), where it steepens to a makeshift log bridge that crosses (right) back over the creek (3.68 miles : 10,970’).
The forest thins into a scenic meadow at the base of Haystack Mountain, and levels on a northwest bend to Rogers Peak Lake (4.05 miles : 11,105').
The main trail wraps the lake’s east side and scales a steep ridge through treeline to a ridge just over Heart Lake at the Rogers Pass Trail split (4.35 miles : 11,316’).
The Heart Lake basin is open and easy to explore. Continue on the Rogers Pass Trail or scale adjacent slopes for aerial views over the double lake basin and Heart Lake's eponymous shape.
Returning from Heart Lake via the unmaintained route:
A 1.35 mile unmaintained route connects Heart Lake back with the main trail approximately 2.6 miles from the East Portal Trailhead. This short connector, which effectively makes a lollipop loop, is depicted on some maps, but difficult to follow and requires basic navigation skills.
To find the trail from Heart Lake, first locate the oft-blown down Heart Lake sign on its southeast shore (GPS point below). A clear path emerges heading east and down valley from it.
A sign .2 miles from the lake marks an overlook of Rogers Peak Lake. Follow this footpath on a steep descent along Heart Lake's outlet back through treeline (.6 miles : 10,950'). The trail - obfuscated and belied by numerous side trails meant to avoid obstacles - takes patience to assess.
Anticipate steep, twisting, irregular intervals through 1.05 miles from the lake; the final .3 miles moderate some on a more direct line back to South Boulder Creek Trail (1.35 miles : 10,310'), just a few steps away from a recognizable bridge 2.6 miles from the trailhead.
- N39 54.189 W105 38.666 — 0.0 miles : East Portal Trailhead
- N39 53.953 W105 39.026 — .5 miles : Mild grade through meadows and mixed forest
- N39 53.599 W105 39.628 — 1.2 miles : Arapaho Lakes - Forest Lakes Trail junction
- N39 53.443 W105 39.814 — 1.5 miles : Wide, rocky path adjacent to the creek
- N39 53.404 W105 40.130 — 1.85 miles : Crater Lakes Trail split
- N39 53.030 W105 40.422 — 2.5 miles : Variously rugged travel on shifting path
- N39 52.934 W105 40.433 — 2.62 miles : Cross bridge | unmaintained trail split
- N39 52.649 W105 40.553 — 3.0 miles : Steady climb in healthy forest
- N39 52.305 W105 40.823 — 3.48 miles : Cross bridge at base of cascade
- N39 52.240 W105 41.034 — 3.68 miles : Cross creek (right) on makeshift bridge
- N39 52.277 W105 41.328 — 4.05 miles : Rogers Peak Lake
- N39 52.409 W105 41.525 — 4.35 miles : Heart Lake and Rogers Pass Trail split
- N39 52.484 W105 41.469 — Heart Lake (official sign)
- N39 52.452 W105 41.346 — .15 miles from Heart Lake
- N39 52.482 W105 41.195 — .3 miles from Heart Lake
- N39 52.490 W105 41.091 — .45 miles from Heart Lake - begin steep descent
- N39 52.640 W105 40.790 — .75 mile mark
- N39 52.750 W105 40.636 — 1.05 mile mark
- N39 52.915 W105 40.423 — 1.35 miles : Rejoin main trail
- James Peak (13,294') is the 5th tallest mountain in the James Peak and Indian Peaks Wilderness Areas.
- This is a heavily used trail system. Arrive early to avoid crowds and secure parking.
- Be mindful of changing weather and get below treeline before storms develop.
- Snow may linger into late summer and obscure the trail. Look for tree markers in the form of red dots; these will assist in following the correct route.
- On August 24th 2002, the federal government signed legislation designating 14,000 acres west of Rollinsville the James Peak Wilderness Area, which includes Rogers Pass Lake and Heart Lake.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are not required for camping in the James Peak Wilderness. Contact the Boulder Ranger District (303.541.2500) in advance for the latest updates and conditions.
- There are no designated campsites in this travel zone. Dispersed camping only. Use established sites whenever possible to minimize impact.
- Campfires are not permitted in the James Peak Wilderness. Gas stoves only.
- Camp at least 100' away from all streams, lakes and trails.
- Pets must be leashed at all times.
- There are several good sites with tree cover around Rogers Peak Lake, and an adjacent lake hidden from the trail. Heart Lake sites are more exposed.
- Group size is limited to 12 people or people and stock combined.
- Fishing is permitted with a valid Colorado state fishing license. Contact the Boulder Ranger District for current regulations (303.541.2500).
Directions to Trailhead
The East Portal Trailhead is located at the end of Rollins Pass Road, an 8.2 mile dirt road west of Highway 119. Rollins Pass Road is located 4.9 miles south of Nederland, Colorado.
The dirt road is well-maintained but conditions deteriorate when wet.
From Highway 119, turn west on Rollins Pass Road and Keep Straight until it dead-ends at the Moffat Tunnel. Ignore turnoffs that climb toward the pass.
Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301
Sulphur Ranger District
9 Ten Mile Drive
P.O. Box 10
Granby, Colorado 80446