South Ridge via Waterdog Lakes Trailhead

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Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day
Steep Class 2

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South Ridge via Waterdog Lakes Trailhead
Created On: Jul 29, 2005
Last Edited On: Jul 29, 2005


The popular Waterdog Lakes trail is the approach for this route. From the trailhead located on U.S. Highway the trail climbs over 1,200 feet in about 2 miles to the lower Waterdog Lake at approximately 11,380 feet.

After enjoying the lower lake proceed west (to the left) along a decent trail to the much larger upper Waterdog Lake at approximately 11,450 feet. An early start is warranted to allow time to enjoy the beauty of these two lakes which each have there own feel.

The lower lake is located within heavy forest with the upper lake situated below the steep treeless alpine slopes leading up to the Continental Divide.

Route Description

From the upper lake the goal is to attain the bench to the north above the upper lake. This can be done by going either way around the upper lake. Traveling around the south side of the lake is more scenic and fun along a faint trail skirting the south and west sides of the lake below the steep slopes above the lake.

Once to the bench resist the urge to head up the steep upper slopes to the ridge along a very faint trail that may be tough to find. Instead head due north up into the upper basin towards Bald Mountain along a gentle grassy ramp covered with rocks and wildflowers in season.

While heading north you will eventually come to another bench ahead in the distance. From this bench there is an obvious grass ramp up to the ridge that is less steep (steep Class 2) than anywhere else. You will have to scout the ridge to determine how best to avoid any remnant snow cornices that may be lingering near the top. We had to scramble left around a rather large cornice in late July of 2005.

Once on the ridge you are on the Continental Divide with views to the west that have eluded you to this point. From here the route north to the summit is obvious partially following the Continental Divide Trail and the cairn people.

Essential Gear

Typical above treeline hiking gear is appropriate in the summer and early fall months. Avalanche danger is most likely high in winter and spring. The trailhead is accessible year-round as it is located along U.S. Highway 50.

Miscellaneous Info

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