While short, the hike to Hassell Lake is steep and challenging. The Hassell Lake Trail is only one mile each way, but gains 800 feet in that mile, most of it in the first half. This makes it a great choice for athletic people and pups looking for a quick aerobic challenge with a scenic payoff. For fit people who scoff at a two-mile hike, no matter how steep, another popular option is to extend the hike by a couple of miles by starting on the farther side of Urad Lake and following that trail. Do note that it's not as well maintained and may require some nimble navigation and bushwhacking.
Either way, you'll need to take Woods Creek Road to one of the parking areas near Urad Lake to get to the Hassell Lake Trail. The trail officially starts off of the Upper Urad Reservoir parking lot at the very end of Woods Creek Road. On your way to the trail, you'll be passing in and around property owned by a mine, so take heed of signs indicating areas where hikers are not allowed. Also note the signs showing that all dogs need to be on a leash except for hunting dogs during hunting season.
Mountains fold in front of one other all around you in the open valley where you begin your hike. As you ascend up several switchbacks, you'll pass into increasingly dense stands of pine, spruce, and fir. You and your pup will need to navigate around large rocks as you near Hassell Lake. Beautiful sights you'll enoy along the way include alpine meadows and a pretty stream tumbling down stepped rocks.
This is a noted wildflower hike. From June to August, you might spot goldenrod, arnica, cinquefoils, senecios, alpine kittentails, and fireweed. Late-blooming flowers you may see in August include subalpine buckwheat, harebell, and Rocky Mountain gentian. Mosquitos like to hang around boggy areas, so be sure to bring some bug spray.
If you and your pup are looking to frolic among the flowers and come home panting, there's no better choice for a Denver-area day hike than Hassell Lake.