Despite its name, the Lost Man Loop is not an actual loop; rather, it connects two trailheads on Highway 82 close to Independence Pass. The route is typically experienced in one of two ways: 1.) Park across from the Lost Man Campground or at the last switchback before Independence Pass and hike out and back the full 8.8 miles or just a couple or 2.) Shuttle cars and park one at the Lost Man Campground and one at the switchback and hike the full 8.8 miles.
What Makes It Great
No. 1 is great for the hiker looking for options, and the easier route. Start at the trailhead of the Lower Lost Man Loop across the highway from Lost Man Campground. You can also access Midway Pass Trailhead from here.
The Lower Lost Man Loop hike is very gradual and starts in some trees. Depending on the time of year, a trickling stream or rushing creek runs next to the trail. About .25 mile into the hike you pass the turn off (to the left) for Midway Pass and soon after come to the Lost Man Reservoir. At this point, the valley opens up into a large meadow. You are below treeline, but since there’s mainly scrub oak and sage brambles, the vistas are beautiful, with high ridges in just about every direction. The hike gradually ascends with more short, steep sections as you get further up the trail. You can go as far as you want on this trail (the trail continues along the value for another four miles before turning to the right) or just hang by the lake (go fishing or skip stones).
If you make it to Upper Lost Man, the views of Geissler Mountain and the surrounding peaks are incredible, especially when bedecked in snow still in the spring or fall.
The best time to visit Lost Man, and most everything else in the high mountains around Aspen is morning. Thunderstorms are common in the afternoon, especially in July and August.
Who is Going to Love It
Just about any hiker of any ability level will appreciate this hike because it’s possible to make it short and easy or a long, challenging day hike or trail run.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you’re parking at the Lower Lost Man Trailhead, drive 14 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82 to the parking lot directly across from Lost Man Campground. The trailhead begins on the left (north) side of the road.
If you’re parking at the last switchback before Independence pass: drive 18.5 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82 to the parking lot at the last switchback before the top of Independence Pass. The trailhead is on the left (north) side of the road.