Disclaimer. I hiked this trail alone. Looking back, I think it wise to take a friend with you when doing this caliber of adventure. You know, just in case.
This hike was one of my first real tastes of what a true rocky mountain experience has to offer. Silver Dollar Lake Trail encompasses more than just one lake. Three, actually: Naylor, Silver Dollar and Murray Reservoir. Driving west from Denver, it’s about an hour and a half trek. At the time I made this hike I was traveling in a mid-size sedan with minimal ground clearance. Upon arrival, I opted to park in the paved lot across the street to the entrance of Naylor Lake Road. If you’ve got a vehicle that rides higher off the ground, there is an additional parking lot closer to the trailhead at the other end of Naylor Lake Road that shaves about a mile off your hike.
I hiked this trail around mid-June and there were still two sizable glaciers that overlay the trail roughly 25 yards wide. This trail is rated as moderate and, at 4 miles in length with a gnarly 100 yard climb at the end of the hike, it definitely earns its rating. With a change in elevation of 1,000 feet, this is a “get your money’s worth” type of experience. Speaking of which, if you park in the lot I parked in there wasn’t a permit fee. That’s subject to change, of course, so always try to have a little cash with you when you go hiking.
About the time that I had reached Murray Reservoir, an afternoon thunderstorm was beginning to douse me with cold rain drops. Unfortunately, I forgot a poncho in my bag, but Katie had left her puff jacket stuffed in the bottom of our deuter Junior bag that kept me warm and dry enough for the return hike.
This entire hike wasn’t shy with its natural beauty. Throughout the journey, I tried to pause and listen for the cascading waterfalls that are just barely visible from across the valley gorge. High mountain peaks like Square Top Mountain, Mount Wilcox and Argentine Peak surround you as you make your way towards Silver Dollar Lake. My favorite vantage point is looking east atop the flat shelf, reached only after a steep climb following Silver Dollar. My suggestion, pack a sandwich and a drink to enjoy while sitting on a rock overlooking the trail you just conquered. Oh, and a friend. Bring a friend, it makes hiking much more enjoyable.
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