Hancock Lake

Saint Elmo, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 06/14/2021
4.9 / 5 ( 8 reviews )
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Typically Open: 06/15 - 10/31
Length: 1.5 miles
Highest Elevation: 11666 feet
Duration: About 20 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Saint Elmo
Nearest Town w/ Services: Buena Vista
Official Road Name: FS 295
Management Agency: San Isabel National Forest
District: Salida Ranger District


Highlight: Hancock Lake
Alpine tundra, pristine lakes, epic fishing and high mountain valleys are just some of the rewards that await at the end of the Hancock Lake Trail. The trail begins at the old townsite of Hancock, Colorado and from there heads south into the Chalk Creek Pass Valley. You will traverse through conifer forests, willows and tundra on your way toward the parking area that sits at just over 11,600' of elevation. A short hike from the parking area brings Lower Hancock Lake into view, and a more focused hike will take you to Upper Hancock Lake that sits just a bit higher in the valley. Be sure to respect this pristine area and pack out everything you pack in.


Route Information

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1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The trail begins in a large parking area at the end of the Alpine Tunnel East Trail. There is plenty of room to park and a large sign with directions and mileage. Head south on FS 295 to begin the trail.

Directions to Trailhead

You must first drive the Alpine Tunnel East Trail to reach the trailhead for the Hancock Lake Trail.



Land Use Issues

This area is part of Pike-San Isabel National Forest, and as such is part of the 2011 Lawsuit where a coalition of conservation and recreation groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they say is the illegal addition of 500 miles of motorized roads and trails. A settlement was reached in late 2015 that is requiring the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the roads and create a new travel management plan. Over the next year, 30 roads will be partially or completely closed while this evaluation takes place over the next 5 years. It is imperative that the OHV community let's their voices be heard on this issue. If we do nothing, those 500 miles will be shutdown. Contact the local ranger districts and let them know why the area is important to you and the history you have there. Salida Forest Service District Office Leadville Forest Service District Office

Trail Reviews (15)

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Writer Information

Marcus Trusty

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Marcus is a 4th generation Buena Vista, Colorado native who grew up bouncing around the central Colorado mountains in the back of his dad's CJ5. During his younger years, Marcus grew to appreciate public lands and the recreation opportunities backroads and 4-wheel drive trails offer. Marcus has been wheeling for 20 years now and has wheeled in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. Until a few years ago Marcus had just been a participant in the wheeling community, but he has become much more active in preserving trails and working to make sure the wheeling community has their access maintained for future generations. In 2017 Marcus helped to found Colorado Off Road Enterprise - CORE, based out of Buena Vista. CORE has worked with the Forest Service and BLM and has volunteer agreements in place with both organizations. CORE also has a Forest Service trail adoption agreement in place for Grizzly Lake, Pomeroy Lake, Hancock Lake, Hancock Pass, and Tincup Pass, Tomichi Pass, Williams Pass, Ptarmigan Lake, Mineral Basin, Clohesy Lake, Lost Canyon, Champion Mill, Iron Mike Mine, and Slide Lake. If Marcus is not working you can generally find him somewhere out on the trails around Buena Vista.
For individual use only, not to be shared.