Clohesy Lake

Buena Vista, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 08/09/2021
4.8 / 5 ( 13 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 06/15 - 09/30
Length: 3.19 miles
Highest Elevation: 11106 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Buena Vista
Nearest Town w/ Services: Buena Vista
Official Road Name: FS 381
Management Agency: San Isabel National Forest
District: Leadville Ranger District

Highlights

Highlight: Clohesy Lake
The Clohesy Lake Trail is one of the few remaining roads with access to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. The trail follows the Lake Fork Valley and ends within walking distance of Clohesy Lake. Once a private lake that was the fish hatchery site in the late 1880s, it has now been returned to the Forest Service and is part of public land. The lake is situated in Lake Fork Valley between Mt. Missouri (14,075') and Mt. Huron(14,003'). The views are spectacular, and the fishing is equally as impressive. This area also offers access to several popular hiking trails. Please stay on the road to avoid causing damage to the area and help us keep this trail open!

Video

Route Information

Technical Rating

( MODERATE - DIFFICULT )

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Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
Turn left onto FS 381 just after you pass the Crescent Mining Camp with several cabins.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Buena Vista

From the Highway 24/Main Street stoplight in Buena Vista, head north on Highway 24 for 15 miles to County Road 390, turn left onto CR 390 following signs to Clear Creek Reservoir. Follow the dirt road around and past the reservoir for just under 10 miles and turn left at the Crescent Mining Camp cabins onto FS 381.

Camping

Dispersed

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 (24)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
****** has dammed the first water crossing.
Author:
Status: Open
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Had some difficulty with this trail a year ago, particularly climbing out of the creek (see 9/30/20 trail review). Upgraded my ride since then, and the rear locker on the newer 4Runner made the creek-exit obstacle a non-issue. Still enough of a challenge to keep it interesting. Hungry little brookies at the south end of the lake. And yes the dirt county road leading to the trailhead seems to not be maintained anymore shortly after passing the reservoir. Enough of an annoyance that we stayed aired-down for that section on the way out. Even so this has become one of my favorite trails in the area.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail guide says the road ends at the orange gate (waypoint 8) but there are 2 signs at waypoint 7 that say no motor vehicles allowed. I looked at the MVUM which seems to support that. Please park at the meadow where there is a rusty regulations sign and do not continue past that. You will see the signs I’m talking about. Overall the trail was easy for me and took 40 minutes one way. Unfortunately both on my way up and down I encountered cross traffic in the exact same spot which was difficult for passing, but we figured it out. The trail is pretty tight in places so I wouldn’t recommend a full size. You’ll also get some pinstriping most likely. One last note is the county road to get to this trailhead is notably worse than just 2 months ago when I drove it. The county road is becoming an off-road trail itself with the number of pot holes on it.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail. The first half mile is fun and challenging with the water crossings, the exit from the creek, and the narrow climb. But then the rest of the trail is a nice traverse up the valley and through the woods.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Drove this trail with an Off Road Group I had recently joined. The dirt road leading to the trailhead in some places looked like a parking lot with a lot the campers and people visiting the mines and the Museum. We got to the trailhead and there was a large family camping at the entrance to the first stream crossing. The stream was maybe 10 to 12 inches deep an was easy to cross. We stopped for lunched between the two stream crossings and then proceeded across the second stream. The far bank of the second crossing was a bit steep and had two imbedded rock obstacles as you exited the that caused some issues with a couples of lower riding vehicles in the group. The rest of the trail was not hard, but very rough and bumpy, with many large "whoppie do's" that caught my center sked plate several times. At the end of the trail there was a very large amount of timber that had been cut down making parking and turning around for our large group a bit if a challenge. The views at the end of the trail and the lake were fantastic. Over-all this was a fun trail.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Fun trail. Creeks were maybe 15 inches deep in their deepest places. Coming out of the 2nd creek is probably the most challenging aspect of the trail as it has gotten fairly rutted out. Lockers would make this section easier, but I got up without using any.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is fully open for the season.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Open to Waypoint 4, then deep snow blocking the trail.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail was completely dry after the creek crossings. Water was low and slow in the creek - perhaps 10" at the most. Even so there was some difficulty coming out of the second crossing in stock 97 4Runner. Knowing that similar vehicles have made it was very helpful, so thanks for that. Another rock obstacle about 3/4 of a mile up was also a challenge. These two obstacles seemed even more challenging on the way back down, but I'm a novice offroader so your mileage may vary. Lake was beautiful - no beetle kill yet. Fishing was difficult due to massive amounts of algae - go to the south side for less algae and eager fish.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I'm sure Marcus will update the main entry soon, but CORE cleared the last avalanche slide at the top of the trail on September 12. You can now drive all the way to the gate at the end of the road, where we cleared a parking/turn-around area that can accommodate around 5-10 vehicles. There was about a foot of snow at the top yesterday morning and the last half mile of the trail was quite icy. We had to recover a truck that had slid off the road the night before. By mid-afternoon a lot of the snow had melted and most of the remaining snow was just slush. It will probably all be gone in a few days.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
As noted, you can't quite make it to the old gate anymore. Avalanche from 2019 wasn't cleared for 2020 season, though there's a short well worn hiking trail to hoof it in. Minimal turn around spot at the very end, so keep that in mind if you have a particularly long truck. Trail was about a 3-4 difficulty in a trail width (50") stock SXS on just 11-12" of clearance. Bumped the skids a couple of times, but no marks. No traction issues, though as noted if you have low clearance and open diffs the initial steep/rocky climb out of the stream crossing at the start may give you trouble. In mid August, there was maybe a foot of water at the deepest points, a little bit sloshed up to the floorboards of the RZR when going at decent pace. You probably want 32-33" tires on highway legal vehicles just due to all the steep erosion control ridges that are a constant on the road to avoid dragging, unless you're particularly short wheelbase. Probably about a dozen off-road vehicles were camping over the weekend, which isn't bad at all for Colorado during C19. Great views of the lake at the end, we just hoofed in our gear the last 0.2 miles or so. Take is pretty algae-filled and mucky along shore, but great fishing and boating opportunities! Handful of rarely used dispersed sites around the lake, both exposed and in the treeline.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
fun trail, unique water features, and beautiful lake. its amazing that no one seems to know about this trail. open all the way to #7, new parking area before short hike to lake. pretty easy trail in an 07' lancruiser w/ lift & 33's, but also challenging in a couple spots. most difficult spot for me was exiting the water crossing - pretty steep, wet rock face while making a right turn up the hill. took a couple tries but got it once atrac kicked in.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail is good all the way through until the waypoint 7. Water was low, great camping!
Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is still closed just past waypoint 7. River crossing was below the body of my Tacoma even with the significant amount of rain received this weekend.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
The trail is open to just past Waypoint 7.
Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
As Marcus mentioned the trail is opened just past waypoint 7. After the meadow the trail is covered in snow, and there is avalanche debris just before the gate. Great trail, ran it in a lifted Tundra w/ no issues. A stock F-150 and stock 08 4Runner accompanied me, they had a tougher time but made it just fine.
Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Broke trail through snow drifts almost the entire way up. the last clearing before the lake is where it got too deep to continue, going to need a few weeks before its accessible all the way to the lake by vehicle, but you can hike to the lake from that point at least.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
CORE has cleared the trail to very near the top. Massive avalanche has blocked the parking area at the top, but a new parking area is being established. For the time being, park in several turn offs just before the slide to hike to the lake. And be careful as walking over the fallen trees can be very hazardous
Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Avalanche debris at waypoint 4 still blocking the trail. Some progress has been made, but still several trees blocking the very end of the debris field. If you have a low profile rig with front and rear lockers you may be able to make it over the fallen trees and snow pile.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is only currently open to Waypoint 4. At that point the trail is blocked by a large avalanche field 200yds across and nearly 25' deep. It will be a quite some time before the trail is passable at this point.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Snow has fallen closing the trail for the season.
Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Did this one to fish the lake. The only challenging part was the first ascent out of the creek, but after that my stock F150 did fine.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail is entirely open, some small snow drifts near the end but they are passable. Creek is at a lower flow than usual due to the lighter than normal winter.
Author: Official Crew
Status: Permanently Closed
Offroaded on:
Snow has fallen making this trail impassable until next season

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: Is it possible to get to Clohesy lake with a small off-road camp trailer? (Trail end)
–Dale Stringer (08/11/2019)
–Marcus Trusty (08/12/2019)
Q: What are the specs on the jeep?
–Tony (08/11/2017)
–Marcus Trusty (08/14/2017)
–Tracy Barker (08/13/2017)

Writer Information

Marcus Trusty

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Marcus is a 3rd 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. 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.