Overview: This easy out and back hike takes one through aspen groves and past beaver ponds to beautiful Potato or "Spud" Lake, near Purgatory, Colorado. Potato Lake is a great destination for hikers with small children, and is reported to be stocked for fishing. This trail is quite popular due to its scenic destination, so don't expect solitude.
Hike: From the informal and often crowded trailhead, adjacent to lily pad covered Scout Lake, the Spud Lake Trail #661 departs from a trail sign into an attractive mix of aspens, columbines, and wildflowers, following the route of an old road. While gradually ascending, the old road narrows into a footpath, and the hike crosses an open hillside where one can get a nice view to the west of the 12,000 foot, barren rock summits of Grayrock Peak and Engineer Mountain, from a rocky viewpoint near the trail.
Spruce trees begin to fill the forest, as the route descends to the nameless cascading creek that empties Potato Lake. Beaver ponds abound as the trail follows the little creek upstream. To the east, the jagged summits of the West Needle Mountains scrape the sky at more than 13,000 feet, while the rounded, rocky mass of Potato Hill looms to the north.
Nearing its end, the trail proceeds through a low pass, and arrives at Potato Lake, situated in a shallow, forested bowl, at the base of 11,871 foot Potato Hill. The trail ends here, although one can circumnavigate the lake along a well used footpath to enjoy a changing view of this beautiful area.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.