Lost Man Trail
Rating: Moderate to difficult
Distance: 8.8 miles (round-trip, which is technically one-way)
Elevation gain: 1,290 feet
Estimate hiking time: About 4 hours
Dogs: Must be under voice and sight control
Trailhead: Even though it’s not a complete loop, this popular all-day stunner is more commonly known as the “Lost Man Loop.” Hikers have their pick on where to start on Independence Pass, but it takes a pre-planned pickup or two vehicles to do. The preferred route is to start at Lost Man Campground (14 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82), quickly hitting a fork in the trail at about 0.5 miles, where you’ll keep right and continue to Lost Man Reservoir.
Route: A long stretch through a magical, mossy forest with multiple river crossings opens up into a expansive valley of the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness toward a steady climb to Lost Man Lake (about 5 miles from trailhead). After a lingering lunch break, hike to the top of the pass where a slew of marmots hiding out in the rock field fill the air with welcoming whistles.
The trail descends gradually for about 4 miles, where you’ll pass another lake and catch jaw-dropping views of Independence Mountain and the sea of summits in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness en route to ending at the second Lost Man Trailhead (18.5 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82).
Download the Pitkin Outside app for more information and detailed trail maps: aspenrecreation.com