Trail of the Week: Native Lake/ Highline Trail
Trailhead Location: Leadville, CO
Trail Difficulty: moderate
Elevation gain: ~1000 feet
Trail Length: 4.2 miles to Native Lake; 9.4 miles to the Leadville Fish Hatchery
Time to hike: 3-5 hours roundtrip to Native Lake; 5-7 hours to the Fish Hatchery
Season: July- Mid September
Trail Review: Located in the Mount Massive Wilderness, the Native Lake hike provides a variety of scenery. Beginning at 10,800 feet in elevation, the trail meanders through the trees before switchbacking frequently uphill. Though 1,000 feet are gained in elevation, the trail does a good job of contouring as much as possible and keeping hiking straight up to a minimum.
As you ascend, the trees fall behind, and there are grasses and bushes everywhere, with a clear view of the Continental Divide and Mt. Massive. At the pass the trail flattens out and contours, crossing a plateau before descending about 500 feet to Native Lake. The lake is a perfect place to eat lunch and relax. The lake itself is freezing almost all year round, but worth a dip. This hike is probably possible in the fall and spring with snowshoes, but the ideal time to go would be during the summer. If hiking the Native Lake/Highline Trail in the summer, it is very important to consider afternoon thunderstorms and start earlier in the day.