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Flat Tops Wilderness Area: Wall Lake and Trappers Lake Loop

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  • View on the plateau
  • Wall Lake
  • Valley after Wall Lake
  • View down the canyon towards Trappers Lake
  • View across Trappers Lake

Photos by SQ

Wall Lake and Trappers Lake Loop

Area Steamboat Springs
Park/Forest Flat Tops Wilderness Area
Trailhead Wall Lake
Distance Roundtrip ≈ 14.0 Miles
Elevation Start 9766 ft
Elevation Gain ≈ 1447 ft
Features Lakes, Vistas
Dogs Allowed? Yes


The Wall Lake/Trappers Lake Loop is a great hike in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. The Flat Tops Wilderness Area is an interesting landscape with mostly flat mountain tops instead of the more pointy peaks you often see in Colorado. The mountains are also tiered. When looking up from Trappers Lake it seems you are looking at the peaks, but that is a high plateau and there are additional peaks rising from there. This hike leads you up to the plateau. If doing the loop you can go either way. If taking the Wall Lake Trail first, you gain the elevation more quickly and the hike down the valley along the Trappers Lake Trail is gorgeous, as you can see the whole valley and Trappers Lake for most of the way. Doing the reverse leads you up the valley with the towering cliffs in full view and it has a more gradual incline. This loop makes for a nice 2-3 day backpacking trip depending on how far you want to go each day. The Wall Lake Trail will be first in this description.

From the Wall Lake Trailhead, you start through mostly forest which was burned in the Big Fish Fire in 2002. After a gentle incline you enter a canyon and you gain most of the elevation on the trail in this short section. There are some views of Trappers Lake on the way up. Once you reach the plateau there is a junction with the Oyster Lake Trail. There is a sign at the junction pointing the way of the Wall Lake Trail. Very shortly after this there is a confusing junction that is not marked. There is a social trail or streambed that heads straight for Star Lake. Star Lake is a nice area that could be a destination in its own right. To stay on the Wall Lake Trail; you will see Trappers Peak once you are on the plateau and you will take the trail that keeps Trappers Peak on your right and the cliff edge and valley below on your left, the Wall Lake Trail cuts roughly through the middle of those two landmarks. You will come up on Wall Lake which is a beautiful alpine lake. This makes for a good camping spot if you are not going on to the Trappers Lake Trail that day. There are not many camping spots as you get closer to the 'wall' at the more southern edge of the lake.

Once you gain elevation on the trail up to the wall of Wall Lake, you will go over a saddle and into a valley with great views of the high country. You travel over tundra and forest until it meets up with the Trappers Lake Trail. You take the Trappers Lake Trail back towards Trappers Lake. At the Trappers Lake Trail and Island Lakes Trail junction, there are a group of unnamed lakes just north of there that can make for a nice camping area. The Island Lakes Trail ends at that junction, but if you follow the imaginary line of where it would continue going straight, you should quickly see the first of that group of lakes. Another camping option near the halfway point is Parvin Lake, which you see off the Trappers Lake Trail shortly after you drop into the valley. To hike out you follow Trappers Lake Trail all the way down the gorgeous valley. You will eventually meet up with the Carhart Trail. It is nice to take this trail along the east side of Trappers Lake as this affords views of the towering Flat Tops area you just hiked. Going on the east side of the lake requires a hike on roads back to the Wall Lake Trail. Alternately you could take the Carhart Trail west back to the Wall Lake Trail and back to the Wall Lake Trailhead.

Directions info

Get Directions in Google Maps →
If you are coming from the East, many of the online direction applications route you through Meeker from Steamboat Springs or I 70. In the winter this would probably be the preferred way, as signs indicate that the route from Oak Creek or Phippsburg is not maintained in the winter. In the summer you can go from Steamboat Springs to Oak Creek via 40 to 131 south. After Oak Creek, the rest of the way is crushed gravel roads and should be passable by any car. From Oak Creek you can take Co Rd 25 to Co Rd 132/Co Rd 8 to Co Rd 8a/Trappers Lake Rd to Trappers Lake. This way takes about half the time as the route through Meeker. Variations of this route could be applied to those coming from the southeast, these directions just indicate that Co Rd 8 should be passable from the east in the summer. You can use your map or directions application to fill in the blanks. As with any road, there is always the possibility special circumstances would make this route impassable. The route from Meeker is viable as well. The route from Meeker is also crushed gravel for part of the way. There are no services after the small towns surrounding the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.


Forest Service Wall Lake Trail Page
Forest Service Trappers Lake Trail Page


The link to 'Directions in Google Maps' will open in a new window and give you directions from your current location to the trailhead. You can also change the starting location in the top field of the directions area. Note that for some rural trailheads the directions could route you to the nearest address it has, which could be a half mile down the road.

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