Skiing or snowshoeing in winter up Fourth of July Road along the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area offers a serene experience. The route described in this trail summary is a safe family adventure for folks of all ages!
Trailhead: Hessie / Fourth of July Road winter parking (see “driving directions” below). Please note that this is only a viable trip option during the winter because you’ll be on a USFS road the entire time, and the road is very busy with vehicular traffic in the summer and fall.
Activities: Snowshoeing, Cross-country Skiing
Closest City / Town: Nederland, Colorado
- From the Peak-to-Peak Highway (Highway 119/72), turn west on County Road 130, located just south of Nederland town center, and follow signs for Eldora and Eldora Ski Resort.
- At the fork in the road, keep right, through the town of Eldora.
- You will eventually dead end into a snow embankment; this is the trailhead. (During the summer and early fall, you can continue beyond the embankment to the Hessie Trailhead & Fourth of July Trailhead)Ski or Snowshoe up Fourth of July Road
Hiking Distance: Up to 10 miles (roundtrip).
Description: This is the perfect out-and-back adventure for folks looking for a gentle snowshoeing or cross-country ski trip. You will be on established roads the entire time. Nonetheless, the excursion offers a decent backcountry experience — especially on weekdays when fewer people cruise through the area.
The winter hike kicks-off by following the Fourth of July Road for just under one mile until reaching a fork. If you decide to head left, you will end up at the Hessie Trailhead, which goes up to Lost Lake, Jasper Lake, and Devil’s Thumb Pass. Instead, take a right towards the Fourth of July Trailhead. The road parallels the winding North Fork of the Middle Boulder Creek all of the way up to the Fourth of July Trailhead. We highly recommend stopping at this point if you make it all the way. Continuing further towards Arapahoe Pass will put you within numerous avalanche paths. However, there is very little avalanche danger prior to reaching the Fourth of July Trailhead on the road.
You will encounter numerous private inholdings in the national forest on the way. Respect the property of others, while enjoying the crisp – often blustery – winter air that streams down off of the Continental Divide to the west.
Worth Noting: Visiting this area in the winter offers a serene experience that is sometimes difficult to obtain during the summer due to swarming summer crowds.