Carter Lake County Park | Colorado | 03/23/20 & 03/24/20

Since the shutdown, I’ve been slowly visiting a number of parks and trails near home that I hadn’t had a chance to visit yet. As with all things, some are more exciting than others, but even the more average hikes are still time well spent surrounded by nature.

Sundance Trail | Carter Lake County Park

Berthoud, CO | 03/23/20| 7.64 miles | 455′ gain


Carter Lake County Park is one of Larimer County’s many open spaces. It’s geared more towards boating and camping and doesn’t provide great hiking opportunities, but there are a few trails along the lake shore that I wanted to check out.

I worked all morning and didn’t arrive at the trailhead until 2:00pm. A late start, but I knew I’d have plenty of time to finish the Sundance Trail. This is the longer trail that runs along the west shore of Carter Lake. It connects parking areas on the north and south sides and could be done one-way with a shuttle. There is a day-use fee required for this park, but the $9 pass is good through noon of the next day (so basically 1.5 days!). AND this pass is good at a handful of nearby parks (I planned to take advantage of that the next morning!)

Sundance Trail

There were a few people camping and fishing but barely anyone on the trail. It started out wide, smooth, and flat; perfect for cruising along. I was in the forest much of the time so the views of the lake were often from between tree trunks. When we reached a rocky area, we walked out to the water so Lady could take a drink.

Lady at Carter Lake

The trail stayed very easy and mostly flat as it contoured around the shore. As I walked further, the trail became more narrow and it was obvious not many people hiked in this far.

As the trail approached the northern trailhead, it became more rugged and scenic. There were some rocky areas to traverse and steeper sections, and the views on this section of trail attracted quite a few more people.

Carter Lake has a number of finger-like coves that the trail wraps around. One of the larger coves forced the trail to ascend higher and further into the foothills. This allowed for a nice view, the only one that didn’t involve the lake.

Wrapping around a larger cove, you can see the trail on the other side, bottom right. This is the only mountainous (aka not the lake) viewpoint along the trail.

I did enjoy the northern section of the Sundance Trail the most, but it was a little difficult to maintain social distance in some areas. On our way back, we didn’t see anyone after about a half mile, and we walked in solitude all the way to the car.

I was hoping to finish up the last small trail at Carter Lake this afternoon, but it was getting late and I needed to be home for dinner. I would just have to tack it on in the morning!

Fawn Hollow Trail | Carter Lake County Park

Berthoud, CO | 03/24/20| 0.45 miles | 117′ gain

In order to make the most out of my day pass, I planned on finishing up the last trail at Carter Lake and visiting another nearby open space the following morning. The pass I’d bought the day before was good through noon, so why not!?


The Fawn Hollow Trail runs a short ways along the eastern shore of Carter Lake. This trail is mostly used as access to bouldering areas, but it does give another perspective of Carter Lake. This served as our warm-up for the morning.

The Sundance Trail from the previous day follows the opposite shoreline.
The Fawn Hollow Trail

This easy trail didn’t take us very long at all, and we were soon back in the car and on our way to check out another open space!


13 thoughts on “Carter Lake County Park | Colorado | 03/23/20 & 03/24/20

  1. Cool! I like how you lay out the pictures and texts! Helpful info to follow, too..thanks for stopping by mine! Always envious of the hikes out west but trying to find the best ones in the Northeast for now 🙂


    1. Thank you so much! Such a strange time. We are very lucky to live where we do, but also disappointed as some trips had to be postponed. I hope you’re still able to get out as often as you’d like, and are able to get out west soon enough 🙂


  2. rowan_redleaf

    A lovely, concise account of your experience, with great photos. You know what “composition” means for sure. That picture of Lady is especially special. Thank you for sharing!


  3. Pingback: Shoshone Loop | Colorado | 03/24/20 – Colorado Chelsea

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