Happy Trails: Get a Taste of Fall on this Scenic Hike Around Lake Colorado | Pikes Peak Courier

Lake Isabel is one of Colorado’s hidden gems, perched in the humid mountains on the border of Pueblo and Custer counties. (Video by Nathan Van Dyne)

Fall is a fleeting season in Colorado.

For a few precious days, the aspens glow in golden glory and the temperatures hover somewhere near perfect. Then comes winter, with snow, ice and a myriad of wind chill mentions.

If you’re not ready to swap hiking poles for ski poles, don’t worry. But don’t hang around either.

Southwest of Pueblo, high in the wet mountains, we found fall hanging on last week. The leaves painted red, yellow and orange glistened in a gentle breeze. And under a breathtaking blue sky, winter seemed far away.

Lake Isabel is one of Colorado’s hidden gems, unknown to many due to its proximity to, well, nothing. It is nestled in the San Isabel National Forest, on the border of Pueblo and Custer counties. But this remoteness contributes to its attractiveness. Just like the surrounding landscape.

The hike itself won’t present a challenge beyond the thin air that reaches 8,500 feet. The note is as sweet as the atmosphere at this destination, especially in October.

The path is mostly dirt, with some walks along the water. The route can be round trip, but we opted for an easy-to-walk loop that included a few hundred feet along the secluded highway.

The lake is a year round fishing hole that can get crowded during the summer months. This afternoon, a few fishermen dotted the shore in hopes of landing a rainbow trout. But most of the visitors were there to take in the view.

Some took advantage of a picnic. Others were walking a dog. But no one seemed in a hurry. And for good reason: winter is fast approaching, and there is no sense in rushing during fall.

Logbook : 1.4 miles, 150 feet of elevation gain, 8,620 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting There : Take Interstate 25 South to Colorado City (Exit 74). Travel west on Colorado 165 for 18 miles to San Isabel. Park in day-use areas.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION: The trail can be icy in winter. Dogs on a leash. Daily parking charges apply from mid-May to September. Limited free parking just north of the lake. Lots of camping options and hiking trails nearby.

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