Hiking to Grizzly Lake – Buena Vista, Colorado

Grizzly Lake and Grizzly Gulch are located in the San Isabel National Forest south of Buena Vista, CO. Primary activities in Grizzly Gulch include four-wheeling, hiking, backpacking, dirt bike riding, backcountry camping, fishing, and hiking with dogs. To get to Grizzly Lake you hike 2.6 miles through the Grizzly Gulch (i.e., a narrow steep-sided ravine with a fast-stream). There are two trailheads. The hiking trailhead (marked with a hikers icon) is a little farther south of the four-wheeling trailhead (marked with an off-road bike icon) on CR-295 as seen in the following map. The two trails converge about 1/2 way into the hike. The trailheads sit at an elevation of 10,000 feet and Grizzly Lake is at 11,200 feet. Cell phone service was not available.

The Ghost House

Within five minutes of hiking you come to The Ghost House built in 1886 by Thad Dick. The house is believed to be named after Allan M. Ghost who developed Denver’s central business district. Therefore, the name is not implying that there is anything scary about the house. In the late 1800s, the house had high end amenities such as a well, root cellar, wash house, outhouse, and corral for stock.

Single Track Trail

For the first 1/2 of the hike, we were climbing on a single track through a dense forest. It is on this stretch that most of the elevation climbing occurs. The forest canopy provides much needed cover from sun and rain.

Four-Wheeling Trail

After about an hour of hiking, the hiking trail converges with the four-wheeling trail and, thus, the trails widens. In addition, there are many spots along the trail with little or no trees and, thus, providing both northern and southern mountain views. See the northern mountain view in the following picture.

Grizzly Lake

Grizzly Lake is a charming lake with nice spots for camping and lots of shoreline to fish from. Hiking at a slow pace, it took us about two hours to reach Grizzly Lake. The overall hike difficulty was moderate with lots of rocky areas so good hiking shoes are recommended.

Four-Wheeling Down Grizzly Gulch

While eating our lunch at Grizzly Lake, a thunder and lightning storm come upon us. In a move of generosity, a caravan of three jeeps offered my sixteen month old daughter and I safe passage down the Gulch. Specifically, Dave and Vicky of Tomken Inc. The Jeep Specialists gave us a ride down. It was an adventure to say the least being as it was my first time off-roading in a Jeep. We carefully and slowly drove down the ravine with the mountain on one side and a steep cliff on the other side. I would have taken a picture but I was too busy leaning my body towards the mountain to balance the Jeep from falling down the cliff. It should be noted that Dave and Vicky are professionals and were not concerned at any time. Their jeep is the red and yellow one in the first picture. The second picture is of one of their friends doing one of more challenging spots on the four-wheeling trail.

In sum, hiking through Grizzly Gulch to Grizzly Lake is a family friendly experience that needs to be completed before afternoon thunderstorms set in. Notably, the trailhead for Mount Antero, a 14er, is very close to this trailhead.


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