Coney Lake, Beaver Creek Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado
Coney Lake - 5.15 miles
Beaver Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||5.15 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,820' - 10,624' (10,666' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+804' net elevation gain (+929' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Coney Lake - 5.15 Miles Round-Trip
Coney Lake (10,624') is located 2.6 miles from Beaver Creek Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The lake is named for the 'coney' - or pika - that inhabit surrounding talus slopes. Coney Lake sees lighter crowds than other Indian Peaks destinations because of its inaccessibility by standard car.
The Coney Flats 4WD Road should only be attempted by experienced drivers with cars in good condition. Standard vehicles should park at the west end of Beaver Reservoir and walk approximately 3.4 miles to the Coney Flats 4WD Parking Area. Factor this distance when planning your trip.
The following description begins at the Coney Flats 4WD terminus and trailhead:
Coney Flats is a broad, damp expanse between Mt Audubon (south) and St Vrain Mountain (north). Sawtooth Mountain's distinct summit (12,304') stands due west on the Continental Divide.
From the 4WD Parking Area, follow signs over the bridge to the Coney Flats Trailhead (.17 miles : 9,828') and Coney Lake - Beaver Creek Trail split (.4 miles : 9,844').
Bear left on a sometimes faint and washed-over path through the flats. The trail crosses (left) a creek (1.0 mile : 9,941') and climbs away on an old road-trail.
The road-trail is steep, rocky but easy to follow as it traces Coney Creek into a crowded spruce forest. It crosses the creek (right) on a makeshift log bridge (1.35 miles : 10,124'), narrows and edges away from both with intermittent clarity.
The vague trail bends sharply right through a meadow (1.7 miles : 10,334'), then circles to the right of and above a small pond (1.8 miles).
Here the grade steepens up the valley's north wall to an abrupt opening at the base of a steep hill (2.05 miles : 10,435'). The trail pushes through treeline to a flat; though intermittently faint, topographical clues hint at Coney Lake's general location.
Travel moderates and threads a krummholz forest (2.3 miles 10,640') to a crest overlooking a corner of the lake (2.5 miles : 10,666'). Drop (left) down a rocky path to Coney Lake (2.58 miles : 10,624').
Exploration is limited by thick willow, however one good social trail leads to Coney Lake's open SE corner where morning light, views and fishing access are quite good. Mt Audubon (13,233'), Paiute Peak (13,088') and Sawtooth Mountain (12,304') form the backdrop.
Upper Coney Lake (10,940') is located approximately one mile ahead. To reach it without disturbing delicate alpine vegetation - or getting caught in it - take a high line above and around Coney Lake's north shore to its inlet, which provides a direct route. UCL occupies a confined cirque directly beneath Mt Audubon and Paiute Peak.
- N40 07.798 W105 34.480 — 0.0 miles : Beaver Creek Trailhead (4WD Parking Area)
- N40 07.826 W105 34.642 — .17 miles : Coney Flats Trailhead
- N40 07.832 W105 34.888 — .4 miles : Bear left at Coney Lake - Beaver Creek Trail
- N40 07.758 W105 35.443 — 1.0 mile : Bear left over obfuscated creeklet
- N40 07.493 W105 35.684 — 1.35 miles : Cross (right) over Beaver Creek
- N40 07.308 W105 36.028 — 1.8 miles : Circle to right and above pond
- N40 07.358 W105 36.057 — 1.9 miles : Re-gain trail above pond
- N40 07.298 W105 36.204 — 2.05 miles : Opening in forest at base of steep hill
- N40 07.218 W105 36.382 — 2.3 miles : Trail levels in broken patches of krummholz
- N40 07.120 W105 36.538 — 2.5 miles : Clearing at treeline overlooking lake
- N40 07.047 W105 36.569 — 2.58 miles : Coney Lake
- The Coney Flats 4WD Road is rough, narrow and should only be attempted by experienced drivers with cars in good condition. Standard vehicles should park at the west end of Beaver Reservoir and walk approximately 3.4 miles to the Coney Flats 4WD Parking Area. Factor in this additional distance when planning your trip.
- The trail may be faint or simply hard to follow at times through Coney Flats and as you near Coney Lake, especially when in early summer. Carry a good map and be patient with route finding.
- The Coney Lake Trail passes through 4 overlapping ecosystems (the wetlands of Coney Flats, upper montane forest, subalpine forest and lower alpine tundra). Such diversity attracts a wide range of wildlife including coyote, fox, bear, mountain lion, deer, elk, grouse, ptarmigan and marmot. Moose have been known to come over Buchanan Pass to feed in Coney Flats.
- Coney and Upper Coney Lakes support Cutthroat Trout, but the former has limited accessible shoreline and both are known to be quite windy.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are required for all overnight campers June 1 through September 15. Group size is limited to 12 people or people and packstock combined.
- Permits are required year-round for day and overnight use by large groups (8 or more people) or organizational groups (scouts, churches, schools, etc).
- Camping is permitted only at designated campsites in the Diamond, Jasper, Crater and Caribou Lakes Backcountry Zones.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of lakes, streams and trails.
- Camping is prohibited in the Four Lakes Backcountry Zone from May 1 - November 30.
- Campfires are prohibited east of the Continental Divide, as well as Caribou Lake, Columbine Lake, Gourd Lake, Crater Lake and the Cascade Creek drainage above Cascade Falls.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Directions to Trailhead
The Coney Lake Trail begins at the Beaver Creek Trailhead on Coney Flats Road, approximately 5.9 miles west of CO Highway 72 near Ward, Colorado.
From Highway 72, turn west on County Road 96 and travel 2.5 miles on the dirt road to the west end of Beaver Reservoir, where 4WD vehicles may continue 3.4 miles on the Coney Flats Road to the Coney Flats 4WD Parking Area. 2WD vehicles must park at the west end of Beaver Reservoir and walk the remaning distance.
County Road 96 is located 2.5 north of Ward, Colorado.
Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301
Sulphur Ranger District
USDA Forest Service
9 Ten Mile Drive
P.O. Box 10
Granby, CO 80446