Hessie Trailhead has been incredibly busy any time I’ve ever been up there. On weekends the road leading up to the trailhead has a half mile or more of cars parked along the side of the road coming from the tiny town of Eldora. We left Denver around 7:30am and got up there around 8:45am. We were one of the first few vehicles to arrive but by no means had the place to ourselves.
On the way in, where Eldorado Avenue becomes Hessie Road, the road stops being plowed. The result of this varies from winter to winter but generally this means there’s a snow bank where the plow simply stops in the road. Most people park below this point and start the hike there, but a few drive over the bank and head much further in. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have a 4wd vehicle with good clearance. On our way out we came across a Subaru stuck off the side of the road. We hiked the rest of the way out and drove my truck back in to pull them out of the snow. The hike down the road is actually quite nice with views of Eldora ski resort and the surrounding mountains.
Once you get past the roads, you eventually get on Lost Lake Trail. The hike has varied areas to walk through. Dense areas of softwood, open fields, bridges over streams, etc. Even as one of the first groups in for the day, the snow was so packed we never put on our snowshoes. We came across hikers, snowshoers, and skiers in groups as large as 20 on the way out. We didn’t see a single dog on leash, though all the dogs were friendly enough.
The trail ends with a steep section and then nice views of the frozen lake and the mountains over it. There’s plenty of other hiking around this area (Devils Thumb Trail cuts off fairly early but at 5 miles each way we weren’t up for it today). Unless you’re there fairly early (or possibly on a weekday) it’s going to be totally packed. Devils Thumb seemed a lot less traveled just looking at the tracks and might be worth a look for a future hike.