The hike to Independence and Lost Man Lakes is a great way to get accustomed to Colorado’s altitude. With 3.6 and 5.5 mile options, you can choose the right length for your skill level. Situated between Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States, and Aspen, it’s also a great area to visit in either winter or summer.
The trailhead is easily accessible on Highway 82 just over Independence Pass on the Aspen side. While the pass was crowded, there were only a handful of cars parked in the lot right next to the trailhead. As soon as you step out of the car, you’re sure to feel the elevation of 11,506 feet.
The first section of the trail is moderately uphill with 976 feet net elevation gain. You will follow an obvious trail alongside a stream for a good part of the hike until veering left to reach Independence Lake at 1.8 miles. It is rather large for an alpine lake and has a nice grass beach for relaxing and fishing.
If you wish to continue further, hop back on the trail and hike up and over Lost Man Pass to Lost Man Lake. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the second lake, but I’m sure it’s worth the trip over. If you complete the hike to Lost Man Lake, let us know how it was in the comments!