Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake, East Portal Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado

Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake - 8.7 miles

East Portal Trailhead

Heart Lake (N39 52.409 W105 41.525)

Heart Lake (N39 52.409 W105 41.525)

Round-Trip Length: 8.7 miles (includes both lakes)
Start-End Elevation: 9,211' - 11,310' (11,347' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,099' net elevation gain (+2,273' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake - 8.7 Miles Round-Trip

Rogers Peak Lake and Heart Lake are located 4.05 miles and 4.35 miles from East Portal Trailhead in the James Peak Wilderness. They occupy adjacent terraces in a large alpine basin just below the Continental Divide.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail follows South Boulder Creek to its headwaters at Rogers Peak Lake, and on through treeline to Heart Lake. These are popular backcountry destinations with limited campsites at each lake. Backpackers should get an early start during peak season to secure space and avoid crowds:

Follow signs right (north) of Moffat Tunnel to the South Boulder Creek Trail. It rises past the tunnel through intervals of aspen, spruce and meadow to the Arapaho Lakes - Forest Lakes split (1.25 miles : 9,545') and Crater Lakes split (1.85 miles : 9,925').

The trail crosses two bridges over Clayton Creek (2.2 miles : 10,038') and continues steadily in a moss-draped forest to a second tributary bridge (2.6 miles : 10,235')

A variously rocky and rooted climb leads to a cascade (3.48 miles : 10,742'), where it steepens to a makeshift log bridge that crosses (right) back over the creek (3.68 miles : 10,970’).

The forest thins into a scenic meadow at the base of Haystack Mountain, and levels on a northwest bend to Rogers Peak Lake (4.05 miles : 11,105').

The main trail wraps the lake’s east side and scales a steep ridge through treeline to a ridge just over Heart Lake at the Rogers Pass Trail split (4.35 miles : 11,316’).

The Heart Lake basin is open and easy to explore. Continue on the Rogers Pass Trail or scale adjacent slopes for aerial views over the double lake basin and Heart Lake's eponymous shape.

Returning from Heart Lake via the unmaintained route:

A 1.35 mile unmaintained route connects Heart Lake back with the main trail approximately 2.6 miles from the East Portal Trailhead. This short connector, which effectively makes a lollipop loop, is depicted on some maps, but difficult to follow and requires basic navigation skills.

To find the trail from Heart Lake, first locate the oft-blown down Heart Lake sign on its southeast shore (GPS point below). A clear path emerges heading east and down valley from it.

A sign .2 miles from the lake marks an overlook of Rogers Peak Lake. Follow this footpath on a steep descent along Heart Lake's outlet back through treeline (.6 miles : 10,950'). The trail - obfuscated and belied by numerous side trails meant to avoid obstacles - takes patience to assess.

Anticipate steep, twisting, irregular intervals through 1.05 miles from the lake; the final .3 miles moderate some on a more direct line back to South Boulder Creek Trail (1.35 miles : 10,310'), just a few steps away from a recognizable bridge 2.6 miles from the trailhead.

Facebook Comments

Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 54.189 W105 38.666 — 0.0 miles : East Portal Trailhead
  • N39 53.953 W105 39.026 — .5 miles : Mild grade through meadows and mixed forest
  • N39 53.599 W105 39.628 — 1.2 miles : Arapaho Lakes - Forest Lakes Trail junction
  • N39 53.443 W105 39.814 — 1.5 miles : Wide, rocky path adjacent to the creek
  • N39 53.404 W105 40.130 — 1.85 miles : Crater Lakes Trail split
  • N39 53.030 W105 40.422 — 2.5 miles : Variously rugged travel on shifting path
  • N39 52.934 W105 40.433 — 2.62 miles : Cross bridge | unmaintained trail split
  • N39 52.649 W105 40.553 — 3.0 miles : Steady climb in healthy forest
  • N39 52.305 W105 40.823 — 3.48 miles : Cross bridge at base of cascade
  • N39 52.240 W105 41.034 — 3.68 miles : Cross creek (right) on makeshift bridge
  • N39 52.277 W105 41.328 — 4.05 miles : Rogers Peak Lake
  • N39 52.409 W105 41.525 — 4.35 miles : Heart Lake and Rogers Pass Trail split
  • N39 52.484 W105 41.469 — Heart Lake (official sign)
  • N39 52.452 W105 41.346 — .15 miles from Heart Lake
  • N39 52.482 W105 41.195 — .3 miles from Heart Lake
  • N39 52.490 W105 41.091 — .45 miles from Heart Lake - begin steep descent
  • N39 52.640 W105 40.790 — .75 mile mark
  • N39 52.750 W105 40.636 — 1.05 mile mark
  • N39 52.915 W105 40.423 — 1.35 miles : Rejoin main trail

Worth Noting

  • James Peak (13,294') is the 5th tallest mountain in the James Peak and Indian Peaks Wilderness Areas.

  • This is a heavily used trail system. Arrive early to avoid crowds and secure parking.

  • Be mindful of changing weather and get below treeline before storms develop.

  • Snow may linger into late summer and obscure the trail. Look for tree markers in the form of red dots; these will assist in following the correct route.

  • On August 24th 2002, the federal government signed legislation designating 14,000 acres west of Rollinsville the James Peak Wilderness Area, which includes Rogers Pass Lake and Heart Lake.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Permits are not required for camping in the James Peak Wilderness. Contact the Boulder Ranger District (303.541.2500) in advance for the latest updates and conditions.

  • There are no designated campsites in this travel zone. Dispersed camping only. Use established sites whenever possible to minimize impact.

  • Campfires are not permitted in the James Peak Wilderness. Gas stoves only.

  • Camp at least 100' away from all streams, lakes and trails.

  • Pets must be leashed at all times.

  • There are several good sites with tree cover around Rogers Peak Lake, and an adjacent lake hidden from the trail. Heart Lake sites are more exposed.

  • Group size is limited to 12 people or people and stock combined.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted with a valid Colorado state fishing license. Contact the Boulder Ranger District for current regulations (303.541.2500).

Directions to Trailhead

The East Portal Trailhead is located at the end of Rollins Pass Road, an 8.2 mile dirt road west of Highway 119. Rollins Pass Road is located 4.9 miles south of Nederland, Colorado.

The dirt road is well-maintained but conditions deteriorate when wet.

From Highway 119, turn west on Rollins Pass Road and Keep Straight until it dead-ends at the Moffat Tunnel. Ignore turnoffs that climb toward the pass.

Contact Information

Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301

Sulphur Ranger District
9 Ten Mile Drive
P.O. Box 10
Granby, Colorado 80446

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"The actual distance is 9.7 miles RT from the trailhead to Heart Lake. I stayed on the SBCT both ways. "
Bubba  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: September 28, 2018
"Went for an overnight trip from Saturday to Sunday. The trail was shaded and fairly muddy with some snow, but nothing you can't get through. We camped up by Rogers Pass Lake. Highly recommend!"
Danielle Bonneau  -  Denver, Co  -  Date Posted: June 25, 2018
"went in from moffat tunnel. going to be a little slick (early) after about a mile in. it was slushy this afternoon, so an overnight freeze will make it slick. we went to Roger's pass and started towards the rolly section behind that nice knife-edge on your left, but it was 8 - 12" of snow. Just need snowshoes to continue past there. Temps were amazing, but didn't have the footwear."
Jason Robie  -  boulder  -  Date Posted: September 29, 2017
"Trail clear all the way, with some muddy sections to navigate. Nice wildflower display, especially near the outlet pond before Rogers Peak Lake and also up the Rogers Pass trail above Heart Lake. Perfect day to showcase the beauty of this trail and its destinations. I had forgotten how many water crossings there are, but aside from one with a tiny bit of a two-log imbalance to navigate, the footbridges make them easy. We saw a moose wandering along the NW edge of Heart Lake, but it wasn't concerned with people at all. Others saw one later in the day (as we were coming back down) maybe 1 mi from Rogers Pass Lake. My GPS recorded 9.5 mi RT to Heart Lake on the regular trails."
Alex C  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: July 16, 2017
"Trail mostly packed about 2 miles in, but then snow started to get heavier and needed gaitors. Lost trail around 4 miles in (we didn't have a gps track of the route - just following the tracks already there). Made our own trail to Heart lake (which would have been better with snowshoes). We weren't too off from the real trail (which couldn't be seen anymore). We stayed high because we thought the trail by Rogers lake would have deeper snow to it. Hardly any exposure for first 4 miles, but then full exposure for last 0.5 miles to the Lake, so the snow gets really soft. Would recommend spikes, gaitors, possibly snowshoes (depending on how soon snow has fallen in that area) and a gps with the route downloaded."
Vanessa  -   -  Date Posted: November 27, 2016
"The hike to Heart Lake would normally be quite accessible though this time of year often has conditions that are quite variable. Around mile 3, the transitions to snow on trail were more frequent and were best run with snowshoes if carrying packs for camping. The trail here can often be difficult to discern, even when looking for the blue dots. The trail past Rogers to Heart Lake was also quite variable with snowpack as well as transitions to exposed ground. Our descent just two days later did not require snowshoes at all, and the snow on trail will likely be fully melted in another week."
Ben  -  Golden, CO  -  Date Posted: June 26, 2016
"Hiked up to Heart Lake today and once you get past the Crater Lakes split, there is a TON of snow as well as large mud pits you have to navigate through or around. If this hike is on your to-do list this season, I would wait a few more weeks. "
H.T.  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: June 26, 2016
"Great hike up to Heart Lake. The trail is marked with large blue dots spray painted on trees (in response to the comments about the switch back just before the trail split at the beginning of the hike). Wildflowers were just starting to come out. A fair amount of Columbine already blooming though. Spent the night at Heart Lake then summited James Peak the next day. The views from both the top of Rogers Pass and James Peak are fantastic, looking down the Continental Divide. No issues finding the route up the peak, no snow patches to navigate through. Very muddy hike home on Tuesday, back to the East Portal Trailhead after getting 7 hours of rain Monday afternoon and hiking in rain the entire way down from Heart Lake."
Ben  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: July 18, 2015
"Shane: Did it look like you could do the hike from Heart Lake up to the pass? It's a narrow trail with some vertical drop on the sides. Did you have any route finding issues up to Heart Lake? "
Anne  -  Boulder  -  Date Posted: July 2, 2015
"My wife and I went up to Heart Lake today. It was beautiful. The trail is wet and we ran into some snow patches but it was very doable and camping is in full swing. Caught two cutthroats."
Shane  -  Boulder  -  Date Posted: June 27, 2015
"Great overnight trip up to Roger's Peak Lake and back down. Lots of rain during mid July. Be wary of thunderstorms when ascending Roger's pass as they come in rapidly without warning."
Ryan  -  Wheat Ridge, CO  -  Date Posted: July 22, 2014
"The views at the top are just amazing. From the trail crossing at the base of the cascade all the way up to heart lake there were wild flowers and lush greenery everywhere. I attempted this trail last november and again this may and was greeted with HEAVY snow starting from almost the very beginning. The hiking wasn't bad but finding the trail without a GPS was tough. There is a somewhat hidden turn off for a switchback (right hand) around the 1.5 mile mark that so keep vigilant."
FlatLanderGoneHigh  -  Boulder, CO  -  Date Posted: July 22, 2013
"Wonderful hike. The extra effort to climb up Rogers Pass is well worth it. See my photos at --- view in slide show mode."
 -   -  Date Posted: August 5, 2012


Add Comment

Only used to identify you to ProTrails. Will not show on comments list.
Tell us when your experience with this trail happened.