Hike at McIntosh Lake
McIntosh Lake is a scenic lake located in Hygiene, CO that is half surrounded by housing, half by farmland. It has excellent views of the Front Range, particularly Rocky Mountain National Park and the towering Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak.
The hike is a relatively easy 3.6 miles, with no elevation gain. The main parking lot is on the east side of the lake, although there are a couple other places where you can potentially park. We parked where you can see a “P” on the map below. We did this hike clock-wise.
There are restrooms available at the couple parks/playgrounds on the east side of the lake.
Starting out on the east side of the lake you can get some great views of the lake and the mountains together.
This view is from a boat landing close to Flanders Park –
In particular, you get amazing views of Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak. This view is about 0.3 miles along the path from Flanders Park.
When we visited we had the pleasant surprise of seeing a pair of Bald Eagles sitting in a tree. I’d never seen the majestic national bird of the U.S. in person, and was really excited.
According to the Audubon Society, Bald Eagles like to feed on fish and one of their habitats is large lakes or water in open dry country, so it turns out it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise to see them at McIntosh Lake. In fact, we saw two photographers with specialized birding cameras (superzoom, camouflage) there taking pictures, so it must be a common place to see them.
I’ve seen several postings on Colorado hiking and photography pages of Bald Eagles near lakes – McIntosh Lake is not the only place nearby that you can find them.
Around the South Side
After spending some time photographing the beautiful eagles, we continued around the lake. The south side of the lake had my favorite view of the hike. The light from the setting sun and the ice on the lake made for a nice composition.
The path continues hugging the south side of the lake until you get to the west side of the lake. After that, it parts from the lake a bit into grassy farmland.
On our way back to the car the views were mostly of farmland and the lake, but if you looked back, you could see the towering peaks of Meeker and Longs.
It got quite cold quickly as the sun went down, and we ran some of the way back to warm up.
View of the lake from where we parked, at the end of the hike –
Recommended as an Easy Hike
If you live in the Boulder/Longmont area, we highly recommend this hike around McIntosh Lake. At 3.6 miles it’s not too short, and you can enjoy great views of the mountains. You might even see some Bald Eagles!