The moderately-trafficked, dog-friendly Roaring Fork Trail #3 lies within the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Considered challenging by most hikers, the mountain and lake views are magnificent and will make you forget your trials on the trail. Beginning at the Arapaho Bay Campground's Roaring Fork Loop road, the trail has views of Lake Granby at the outset. June through September is the recommended timeframe for hiking with your pooch on Roaring Fork.
The first mile of the trail is extremely steep and difficult through a dense forest, after which it becomes a more gradual, though steady climb. Meadows full of wildflowers that attracts hundreds of butterflies will appear. You may find deep snow even into June, and because creeks and streams run beneath the snow, it can be risky to try to hike through it. Several bridges are built over creek crossings, however. The Roaring Fork Creek weill accompany you for the first 2 miles, and the sight of its white water and submerged rocks with the fast-moving water above them makes a pawsome sight.
A few miles in, you'll see the fork for the Watanga Lake Trail, but to get to your Stone Lake destination, you must continue on the Roaring Fork Trail. Signage will lead the way. Immediately after leaving the serene, grassy terrain, the trail re-enters the forest and another steep climb deposits you at the Mount Irving Hale Pass, where the trail drops down precipitously to Hell Canyon, then up again to beautiful Stone Lake. The remains of a cabin sit at the edge of the canyon.
The lake, ringed with grasses, rocks and elevated terraces, as well as evergreens and aspens, is a pawrect spot to rest or stay the night. Fishing or just sitting on the rock jetty makes good use of the solitude and quiet here. Your fur-baby may love a splash and swim in the lake, which is shallow near the shore.
While this is an extremely challenging hike because of its several steep climbs, humans and their pups who braved the difficulties will find magnificent views, interesting terrain and eventually peace.
This trail is at high altitude. Monitor your breathing and pulse and rest often on the more strenuous patches. There are some places on Roaring Fork where the trail becomes vague, especially in snow, which can be present into June. Bridges crossing creeks and streams may be washed out, so be prepared with waterproof boots or hiking sandals.