MOUNT PRINCETON HOT SPRINGS RESORT
This lake is in the San Isabel National Forest and sits at an elevation of 12,147 ft. It is 3.1 miles (one way) leading in to an 11 acre lake. There are large cutthroats in the lake as well as Ptarmigan birds uniquely camouflaged around the lake. The cutthroats have have a lot of feed available to them so they can be very difficult to catch. Usually wooly bugger and pistol pete fly patterns do well in this lake. Mountain Goats can often be seen above the lake on the ridges of Jones Mountain (12,995 ft). The best fishing is along the Eastern banks where inlets protect these beautifully colored cutthroats. Waypoints and GPS coordinates can be found in a guidebook “Central Colorado Alpine Lakes“.
Ptarmigan Lake Trailhead:
About The Author
Tom Parkes spent 12 years fishing, hiking, and camping at these alpine lakes, enjoying the solitude and scenery surrounding them. For the most part, these lakes have trails leading to their locations on public land and are open to everyone will ing to expend the effort to hike to them. The most prominent lakes are located in the San Juan, San Isabel, Sangre de Cristo, and Swatch Mountain Ranges.
The best times to hike into these lakes are from late May thru November with lower elevations best done in early and late season. July, August, and September are the best months to reach the higher lakes. To successfully complete these treks, physical conditioning and preparation are very important. The following items are essential: adequate water (at least 1.5 liters per person per 5-6 hours}, compass and topo map, sunscreen, adequate food, protective clothing for cold and wet weather (backup socks/have gloves}, flash light, matches or lighter, whistle, mosquito repellant, aspirin, and a CD for reflective device. Included in this pack of course is the essential fishing gear including a four-piece 5-6 weight rod and reel, for windy conditions I have always had a spin-casting rod and reel with clear plastic bubble. My arsenal of flies is both dries and nymphs. Parachute Madam X is an excellent dry fly and most midge nymphs with wooly bugger patterns are normally productive.
It is important to know what to expect in terms of distance and elevation profiles. A GPS or Topo Map complete with routes up and into the lakes are crucial. Also, it is prudent to be familiar with what I call "points of caution" when hiking into these lakes. Elevation gain and altitude can greatly change the difficulty of the hike.
10 Hiking Essentials
- Water (1.5 Liters per person per 5-6 hours)
- Snacks (Beef Jerky, nuts, power bar)
- Navigation (map and compass and/or GPS)
- Extra clothing (hat, socks, gloves)
- First aid supplies
- Light (headlamp or flashlight)
- Fire starter and matches/lighter
- CD Rom or mirror, whistle, mosquito repellant
- Emergency shelter (Biffy Bag)
12 popular trailheads in the Nathrop area with hikes for all abilities and age levels. Surrounding areas have additional options for exploring our beautiful valley.