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Family hiking on the Grand Mesa: Mesa Lake Trail #503

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Grand Mesa on the Western Slope near Grand Junction may be best known for its 300+ lakes. It's a place for boating, fishing, hiking, picnicing and exploring.

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The Forest Service has created a brochure called Grand Mesa short hikes for families and others looking for easy trails to get out and explore the area. We decided to try the first hike listed -- the Mesa Lake Shoreline Trail. The brochure lists the trail as 1.5 miles and ranks the trail as easy. It seemed perfect for an 80-year-old who likes to hike, but needs a short trek.

The hike starts at the end of the Glacier Springs Campground access road (directions below). From the parking lot, walk toward the bank of the lake. It's just a few steps from the parking lot to the shore of this beautiful, tree-lined lake.

You could sit here for hours, but if you'd like to go for a walk, the loop trail can be taken in either direction. I prefer counter-clockwise, so walk up to the shoreline, turn right and follow the shoreline about 400 feet to a trail split. A sign here directs hikers left for the Shoreline Trail, Lost Lake and South Mesa Lake.

The Shoreline Trail is exactly what's called -- a trail around the shoreline of Mesa Lake. You'll be hiking in a very serene forest, under the tree canopy for most of the hike. That means if you come in Spring, even early June, you should expect snow on the trail.

About 0.2 miles from the parking lot, you'll come to a second trail split. This is where the Lost Lake Trail splits off. Hiking to Lost Lake will add an addition 1.5 miles to your hike. For this hike, we stayed on the Shoreline Trail.

As you walk around the lake, you'll see glimpses of the lake through the trees. There are several benches along the way in case you want a break or if you just want to admore the scenery. Consider bringing a snack to eat and enjoying iy at the benches about half-way around the lake, 0.4 miles from the trailhead. At that spot, I found two benches in a sunny spot where the trees opened up.

About 0.6 miles from the trailhead, you'll come to a scree field. That's an area filled with rocks and boulders. Fortunately, the trail builders have put a nice, flat path through the scree, so you don't have to hop from rock to rock like you would on most other trails in Colorado.

"This is so nice up here, it's so different," my father said as he hiked around the lake.

On the other side of the scree field, there's a steep, short hill to climb. Again, the trail builders have helped you out by placing a bench at the top of the hill, in case you want a break.

From here, the trail leaves the shoreline for a short distance, winding through the trees to another lake. It's actually not another lake, it's just a bay of the lake you've been hiking around. Follow the shoreline as it winds around the lake to a parking lot. At the parking lot, turn left on the road and walk to the actual parking lot. You'll find a bathroom here, in case you need a comfort stop. The hiking trail continues on the left side of the bathrooms.

As you walk this next section of trail, you'll once again find another bay of Mesa Lake and about half-way around, there's another bench if you'd like to sit and enjoy the view. At the bench, you'll have hiked about a mile.

After this last bay, you'll leave the shoreline of Mesa Lake and head into the forest. As you hike this next section, you may spot a lake on your right. That's Beaver Lake -- one of many lakes in this area.

After hiking about a quarter mile from the bathroom, you'll arrive back at the Glacier Springs Trailhead.

Details: The hike on the Mesa Lake Shoreline Trail is about 1.25 miles with 150 feet of elevation gain with all the ups and downs. You'll be hiking at 9965 feet in elevation, so you may find it a little harder to catch your breath up here, so take it slow and drink lots of water.

If you're looking for more hikes, check out this list of 200+ hikes across the state. Don't miss any of my trip reports, sign up for an email alert by clicking on subscribe at the top of this page and follow me on Facebook.

Directions: From Grand Junction, take I-70 east to exit 49 for CO-65. Take the Grand Mesa/Collbran exit and drive Highway 65 about 25 miles to the Mesa Lakes Resort. Take the access road into the Mesa Lakes Resort to the Glacier Springs Trailhead, just past the campground.

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