Summer is in full swing, which means we’re all itching to hit the nearest lake - or any body of water for that matter - to cool off. We all know the best spots are low-key and sparsely crowded - especially in current times, and we all have “secret” spots in our area that we only take friends and family worthy of experiencing their hidden grace.

We’re going to crack the safe on some of Colorado’s most beautiful and accessible hidden lakes (sorry, Denverites!). The best part is that your Folding Boat Co. K-Pak packs up into a nifty travel backpack that can be easily transported and carried. Even if there’s another group or two who beat you to the lake, you’ll be the only one soaking in the glory from the middle of the water.  

File photo of Gross Reservoir. Photo Credit: Sarah Solomon _withasmile_

File photo of Gross Reservoir. Photo Credit: Sarah Solomon _withasmile_


The trailhead starts in Lincoln National Forest, just an hour and 15 minutes outside Denver, and is a chill 2.2 mile round trip hike - super easy with the K-Pak on your back. After spring, the snow melt creates waterfalls off of Forsythe Creek that follow the trail - which has been noted as one of the shadiest trails near Denver. The wooded canyon will spit you out at the sky blue lake that is Gross Reservoir, where waving evergreen hills shoulder the peaks on either side - talk about peace. Swimming here is prohibited, however, so don’t fall out your K-Pak.  



While adding a bit of distance, clocking in at 4.5 miles round trip, Lake Isabelle rewards you with a profound sense of isolation and comfort that most spots don’t offer. The trail to the lake gives you breathtaking sights of the ridges and peaks of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Once you reach the destination, rough mountains sprinkled with snow - quite the sight to ogle - gracefully cup the lake. Once you get back to the car, Nederland is nearby and waiting to fill your tired bellies with beer and burgers



Also in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is Rainbow Lakes. It’s a great spot for kids and easy day trips with a 2.6 mile round trip hike, and is just the right amount of lowkey for those looking for a journey off the beaten path. The lake itself is a tranquil bed of water surrounded by dense woodlands that stretch into the rocky and snowy peaks above. For a fee and permit this is a great place to hunker down and camp for the night.

Photo Credit: Scott Mcleod

Photo Credit: Scott Mcleod


Located near Estes Park, the Dream Lake trail is primarily used for snowshoeing and hiking, though the warmer seasons give way to the beautiful range of colors the Estes has to offer. It’s an easy 2 mile round trip trek and is great for all skill levels. While it may be easy, the trail rewards you with a peaceful, dreamy lake nestled between rising and falling ridges and small breaks in the woodlands. If you happen to be around close to sunset, you’ll get why it’s called Dream Lake. A captivating orange tone paints the distant peak and bounces off the lake, while shouldering hills contrast with cool, dim shades.




This lake is made for hanging - so much so, that a day pass is now required to visit the site. Even so, we’re throwing it on the list because Hanging Lake is something out of a Tolkien book. The hike is short at 1.6 miles but pretty steep with a 1,000 foot elevation gain - a bouldered staircase which may be a challenge to little ones. Once you arrive, a serene lake is festooned with moss gardens and trickling falls - a delicate scene straight off of a Bob Ross canvas. The rocky staircase up makes this picturesque setting worthwhile. 

Which of these hidden lakes are you lugging your folding kayak to first?  Whichever it is, please make sure you #RecreateResponsibly by following the guidelines below!