Hidden Lake, Colorado, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Colorado - Northwest -

Also known as:  Hidden Lakes

Tucked away in the Routt National Forest in the northwest Colorado Rockies, Hidden Lake offers some fantastic camping for those desiring a smaller campground away from the beaten path. At 10 acres, Hidden Lake is big enough to hide some trophy sized fish, but small enough to feel like you are on your own private lake. Visit the area during the non-peak times and you just may be. Due to the number of campgrounds in the National Forest, the smaller ones are often overlooked. Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 the Routt National Forest covers 1,126,346 acres of Federal land.

Hidden Lake, or Hidden Lakes as it is sometimes called, is located within the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area of the Routt National Forest and offers more privacy than neighboring Grizzly Lake and the more popular Teal Lake. Campsites around Hidden Lake are well spaced and include plenty of shade and room to set up camp. Facilities at the campground include picnic tables, fire rings, hand pumped water, and vault toilets. There are also a limited number of RV sites. Tent campers can pitch their tents as close to the crystal clear mountain water as they would like.

Fish waiting to be caught in the quiet waters of Hidden Lake include rainbow trout and bluegill. Most of the small lakes in the area are stocked regularly by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Small, non-motored boats, canoes and kayaks are allowed on Hidden Lake. Paddling is one of the best ways to truly enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding forest. Fishing in nearby rushing, world-class streams is also a great way for fly fishermen to land some trophy sized trout. Note: Although most fish taken from Colorado lakes and streams are safe to eat, refer to the Colorado Fish Advisory (link below) before eating fish caught from Hidden Lake or any Colorado waterway.

For hikers and mountain bikers visiting Hidden Lake, there are over 150 miles of wooded trails that lead into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. There are 10 designated Wilderness Areas within the Routt National Forest. The Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area is one of the original areas protected under the 1964 Wilderness Act and has since been expanded twice to its present size of 160,648 acres. Over 70 lakes can be found within the wilderness area as well as 15 mountain peaks over 12,000 feet, the highest being 12,180 foot Mount Zirkel. Some areas of the wilderness are more popular than others and receive a high level of use, but guests looking for solitude can find it if they visit during a weekday or seek out the less-popular areas.

Wildlife enthusiast will enjoy the large populations of elk and deer that make their home in the National Forest. Bear, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, coyote, and antelope can be seen in the higher elevations. Beaver, marmot, ptarmigan, osprey, eagle, and other smaller species may be sighted in and around Hidden Lake. Famous for its hunting, the National Forest has designated hunting areas during seasons set by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

For shopping, restaurants, and more comfortable accommodations, Hidden Lake is located 30 miles southwest of the town of Walden. Known as the “Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado,” Walden is a charming little western town with vacation rentals and real estate options to make your visit feel a bit more civilized. There are also larger campgrounds throughout the National Forest which offer a variety of outdoor services. These campgrounds do fill up quickly and can get crowded during peak times.

East of Hidden Lake, on the western side of the National Forest, is the bustling resort town of Steamboat Springs. This small mountain town comes alive every winter with its incredible downhill ski slopes that attract visitors from all over the country. Many Olympic athletes train in this town. In the summer, visitors can explore the western side of Routt National Forest on foot or bike, or take a gondola or a hot air balloon ride over the majestic mountains. Lodging and vacation rentals in Steamboat Springs are plentiful. Golfers will be delighted by several golf courses in the area. The golf courses also offer spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding mountains during summer and fall months.

From its high mountain peaks to its rolling open meadows, the Routt National Forest offers many opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors. For those who want to get away from it all, smaller campgrounds such as Hidden Lake are perfect for fishing, hiking, or just relaxing without having to compete for space or peace and quiet.

Things to do at Hidden Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Hidden Lake

  • Bluegill
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Hidden Lake Photo Gallery

    Hidden Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 10 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 8,900 feet

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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