6 Labor Day weekend hikes that are two hours from Denver


Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake in Nederland. (Sara Grant, The Know)

I rarely do a hike that doesn’t involve water. Lakes, waterfalls, rivers, heck, even a puddle will do when I am seeking some adventure. Two summers ago, my friend and I took on the 5.3 miles to Diamond Lake and back in Nederland. I still think about it.

Your first adventure will be getting to the trailhead. Luckily my friend has a four-wheel drive vehicle, or else we would have been the poor suckers in a little red convertible just trying to make it up, up, up. The parking lot is pretty small, so be prepared to park on the windy road and add a little distance to your total trek.

The trail is in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and, since you begin just above 10,000 feet, the views start from your first steps. The hike toggles between sun basking and tree shade, so make sure sunscreen is lathered on. If you’re going all the way to the lake (and why wouldn’t you?!), be prepared for an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet. Before hitting the crown jewel of Diamond Lake, you’ll pass waterfalls, cool trees and plenty of flowers.

We personally added quite an extra amount of time on our way up with all the photo-op stops. You’ll eventually reach the high alpine lake nestled below Jasper Peak and will immediately stop in your tracks. We spent a decent amount of time up there bouldering up the rocky side of the lake, exploring the shores and, you guessed it, taking a ton of photos. Then it’s just another 2.7 miles back to your car … if you can remember where you parked it. — Sara Grant, The Know editor



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