A 3.8-mile round trip hike, the Savage Lake trail is a steep yet moderate hike in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Leaving cell phone service long behind in the Roaring Folk valley, follow the babbling Frying Pan River for approximately 27 miles high up into the Holy Cross Wilderness for this picturesque hike.
Starting with a series of switchbacks, Savage Lake Trail #1918 quickly gains elevation from the parking lot as you walk under the canopy of large alpine evergreen trees. It was a rainy summer weekend when we ventured along this path and small streams of water cascaded down the rocky steps and roots for the first half mile. Passing an outcropping, where underbrush was returning among dead fire burnt trees and boulders, we could hear marmots chirping and chattering. After about a mile, the trail eased up and gently meandered the last half mile or so until we reached the first of the two lakes.
Topping out at 11,040 feet, Savage Lake glistened in the sun as fast clouds rolled across the sky and the amphitheater of rugged peaks reflected off of its still, cool waters.
Getting there: From Carbondale, CO travel east on Hwy 82 to Basalt, CO. Turn left at the light and head east on the Fryingpan River Road for 27 miles. Approximately 3 miles past Meredith, turn left onto road #501. About one mile past Elk Wallow Campground take the left fork for approximately 3.25 miles to the trailhead (.2 of a mile before the dead end).
Extend the fun: Connect this trail with the Crater Lake trail (take the T-junction to the left) to add a few more miles. Just always make sure to first check weather reports when hiking in the Rocky Mountains in the summer, as thunderstorms are frequent.