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  • Writer's pictureAmy Hindman

Killamacue Lake

Difficulty: Hard

Length: 6.2 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 1810 feet

Season: June/July-October (Snow melt varies from year to year. Ask around before you go to see if snow has melted before attempting this hike).

Location: Elkhorn Mountains

Notes: No services. Rough access road. Lake is drawn down for irrigation and will be dry by fall.

Killamacue is a pristine, alpine lake in the Elkhorn Mountains. It is a harder trail, but still doable for the big kids. Our 8,10 and 12 year old had a great time on this hike!

The trail starts off with a steep climb. We all thought the 1st mile was the hardest. Thankfully the steepest sections are fairly short and there's some more gradual terrain in-between to make it manageable. There is a small irrigation stream that you'll cross at the beginning of the trail (I'm guessing it is seasonal). There was a log to make the crossing easy.

You'll reach the first bridge crossing at .6 miles.

Beautiful views of the Elkhorn mountain range.

2nd bridge crossing at mile 2.2. Our dog loved this trail since there was frequent water access!

The last mile of the trail winds next to the creek and occasionally crosses it. We saw several fish swimming in the clear water.

The kids always love log bridges!

3rd and final bridge crossing. I forgot to check the mileage, but once you reach this bridge you're almost to the lake!

Beautiful waterfall going over the dam and a fun place to wade on a hot day. This was on a visit in early July, 2022 after a very wet/snowy spring. I'm not sure if it's typical to have water flowing over the dam at this time of year. From what I've heard, this lake is completely dry by fall.

You made it! There's several campsites around the lake for backpackers and plenty of room to relax and eat lunch if you're doing a day hike.

Getting There: Take Rock Creek Road (it turns into FS road 5520) to the trailhead. The trailhead is 4.2 miles past the end of the pavement on Rock Creek Road. The last 2 miles are only suitable for high-clearance vehicles- 4WD recommended. Park just before the road crosses over Killamacue Creek. There is room for a handful of cars on the left side of the road. There is a white mountain goat warning sign on a tree to the left of the road and the trail starts directly opposite that sign on the right side of the road. The start of the trail is not marked. Look for a steep, rocky trail that resembles a very rough road. You will cross a small irrigation stream (might be dry depending on the time of year) at the very beginning of the trail and after a short distance the "road" narrows into a typical trail.

The mountain goat sign is circled and the start of the trail is marked with the red arrow.

Parking is just before the start of the trail on the left side of the road.

Trail map. Trailhead is 4.2 miles past the end of the gravel on Rock Creek and just past the intersection with FS Road 5324. If you cross Killamacue Creek, you've gone too far.

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