This hike, just outside of Silverthorne, starts at the Rock Creek Trailhead along with the Boulder Lake and Boss Mine Trails. For whatever reason, the Kettle Ponds hike is one we don’t seem to do as often as Boulder Lake so it had been a few years since we headed out on this trail.
On the Gore Trail
From the Rock Creek Trailhead, all three hikes head out on the same path, a wide road. In about .3 miles, this trail intersects with the Gore Trail. If you don’t know, the Gore Trail is a continuous trail running the length of the Gore Range. It goes all the way from Copper Mountain to north of Silverthorne. The various trails that head into the Gore Range will intersect with the Gore Trail at some point. At the intersection with the Gore Trail, the Boss Mine hike continues straight, head right for Boulder Lake and left for the Kettle Ponds hike.
Don’t forget bug spray
The Kettle Ponds hike is through the trees, with small ponds scattered next to the trail. You definitely need bug spray for this hike. The mosquitoes are thick here as are the moose. Unfortunately, unlike the mosquitos, we didn’t see any moose on the hike this time. However, there was a lot of scat. The total elevation from bottom to top is around 1300′ but it is a trail with ups and downs so our total elevation gain was closer to 1800′. The toughest part for us is going uphill on the way home. This trail has a fair amount of that.
Ending at kettle ponds
The Kettle Ponds hike follows the Gore Trail so you could go almost to Copper Mountain if you like but there is a nice pond about 3 miles in where we chose to stop. A couple of other, smaller ponds without the mountain views are on either side of it. My guess is that these are the “kettle ponds” the hike is named for. As you sit at the pond, views of Red Mountain, Thorne & Willow are creating reflections in the still water. Despite the dead trees that surround the pond, it is a nice spot for lunch or a snack. I would suggest you continue just a little bit further though. A creek runs through the wide open valley just down the trail and is another great opportunity for spectacular, Colorado views.
A much shorter option
By the time we made it back to the car we had logged 7 miles. There is a nice view spot just about .75 miles in if you aren’t up for 7 miles. The trail crosses the creek on a constructed log. Once on the other side, the Gore Range is a spectacular backdrop to the creek running through the valley here. In my opinion, the extra mileage was worth it for the view of the kettle ponds and the creek.