As you've read by the other reviews this is a tough hike, especially if you're a flat lander. We live in Jacksonville, FL a mere 60 ft above sea level. We are still young, but I would not say extremely physically fit, we are in shape but not in the gym pumping iron or running marathons on the treadmills. So with this being said, if you're just the average joe who run errands, maybe walks your dogs, etc then you can do this hike but be expected to be out of breath and exhausted after 5 - 6 hours.
We began our hike at 11:30 AM which was much later than we should have started. As other reviewers noted you can and will get caught in storms up on the mountain - which we did. So before starting get an early start and expect to take 2 - 3 hours to get to the lake especially if you want to take photos or just enjoy the Aspen forest, pine forest or just the majestic beauty of Aspen.
What will you need? WATER lots of water!!! You should also bring a light jacket and a rain jacket . You should also take with you some snacks just to fuel up. We packed sandwiches, water, beer and ate at the lake once we FINALLY arrived. But I cannot stress the amount of water you need to bring with you. We took over a liter and between the two of us were out of water 1/2 way through our hike. We also brought hiking poles (Black Diamond) which saved our legs and energy. We hike in Sedona but this is much much different so I would highly recommend a walking stick or actual hiking poles. We each used one which was perfect.
What to expect, once again the other reviewers pretty much hit the nail on the head. Start early and you will make a nice ascent up the hill. About 30 minutes into your hike you will come to a waterfall off on the left side. Shortly thereafter you will continue to climb and come to an Aspen Forest - it's not large but you will see this beautiful sight especially if the Aspens are changing for the fall. You're not quite there yet, continue on for another 1 1/2 hours through some rock washouts, a pine forest (this is where we took cover during a mid afternoon rain storm). You will pass yet another large rock slide area and when you look up you will see 7 STEEP switchbacks. Yes these are pretty vertical but you're almost there. Continue on up the hill and you will come to some almost flat land. There is a campground to the left (we saw a large female mule deer here so keep your eyes out for wildlife). You will need to follow the main trail and cross the creek. There were two large beams here for us to cross but on our way back down one of the beams had fallen down a little. I'm sure this will be fixed soon. Once you cross the creek you will be just a few steps away from the lake, which is breathtaking. Once you get here just sit and relax and take it all in.
Getting down the hill is easy but plan on at least 2 hours. If you have bad knees you will need to be careful. The hike is well worth it but the difficulty level is DIFFICULT just as the White River National Forest website states in the trail information (http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/whiteriver/recreation/hiking/?recid=40405&actid=50). I took plenty of photos but am typing this while in flight so unable to upload photos at this time. Enjoy and hike-on!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.