Hillsboro Lake


UPDATE OF JANUARY 25, 2018:  We hiked up trail 79 from Emory Pass to the saddle overlooking Hillsboro Lake, finding the trail in good condition, mostly cleared of downed trees, with patches of snow.

The walk to Hillsboro Lake is about 7.3 miles (round-trip) from the Emory Pass Overlook.  Route finding is straightforward.  Starting at the Overlook, walk north on the Black Range Crest Trail (this section is known locally as the Hillsboro Peak Trail) for 3.6 miles.  This will bring you to the saddle south of Hillsboro Peak.  Turn east and walk down slope for about 100 yards.  Sit on some dead tree trunks and enjoy the lake.


In many areas of the world the “lake” would be called a pond but here it is the only natural water body in the Black Range.  With proper purification equipment the lake is a good source of water in an otherwise dry area, good camp sites are nearby.

On October 17, 2017, we made the walk which is the basis for this post.  The Black Range Crest trail was in decent condition on that day.  There is a moderate elevation gain of about 1,000 feet between the Overlook and the saddle below Hillsboro Peak.  The trail goes through the heart of the Silver Fire burn and standing snags are still falling during high winds.  Until the snags near the trail have all fallen, it is not a place to be on a windy day.


Many maps indicate a trail between the saddle and the lake (the upper part of the Ladrone Trail).  It does not exist at this time.  There is a fair amount of wind fall on the steep slope above the lake and brush and grass is growing on loose scree, making for a tenuous trip down and a workout coming back up.


Aspen and evergreens surround the lake making for a beautiful setting, a unique jewel in the Black Range.

Photographs from this trail have been added to the Black Range Photos gallery.

© Robert Barnes 2017-2018