Looking for a short hike in Poudre Canyon? The Zimmerman Lake Trail is just a mile each way and the trailhead is right on Highway 14 (directions below).
The Zimmerman Lake Trail starts in the parking lot, just west of the bathrooms. Follow the single-person wide trail through the vegetation to an old jeep road that’s gated off.
A few steps later you’ll see a sign that explains how the state removed all the fish in Zimmerman Lake in 1995 to re-establish the native greenback cutthroat trout. The goal was to not only re-establish the trout, but take their eggs from this lake and use them to stock other waters along the Front Range.
Steps later, you’re in the thick forest. While you can still hear the traffic from Highway 14 on this trail, you’re hiking in a thick forest and carpets of wildflowers, even in mid-August.
The road/trail has a steady climb all the way to the lake, gaining 400-500 feet on the mile long trek.
At just about a mile from the trailhead, you’ll come to an open area where the trail splits and there’s a sign with a survey for fisherman. Go either way here, but I recommend staying on the Jeep road. (Going the other way takes you through a marshy area.).
Walk a short way on the jeep road and you should see the berm around the lake. Take any social trail you see over to the lakeshore. This is a nice place to take a break, take in the views and maybe watch a fisherman or two. You can also walk around the lake if you’d like a longer hike.
When you’re ready, return the way you came enjoying the nearby mountain views when the trees open up occasionally on the way down.
Details: The hike to Zimmerman Lake and back is 2.1 miles with 400-500 feet of elevation gain, depending on how much exploring you do.
If you’re looking for hiking in Poudre Canyon, my favorite hikes are Lake Agnes, Lake Emmaline and the B-17 crash site. Find more Poudre Canyon hikes and hikes across the state in this list of 400+ Colorado hiking trails. Don’t miss any of my trip reports, sign up for an email alert by clicking on subscribe at the bottom of this article and follow me on Facebook.
Directions: From I-25, take Highway 14 through Fort Collins. When Highway 14 takes a left turn at Ted’s Place (a gas station), reset your odometer. It’s about 53 miles to the Long Draw Road turnoff. The Zimmerman Lake parking lot is about 3.2 miles past Long Draw Road or about 56.2 miles from Ted’s Place. (The trailhead is just past Joe Wright Reservoir.)