The following directions are provided from the National Forest Service: "From Telluride: Travel west on State Highway 145 for approximately 3 miles. Turn left at the first highway intersection, continuing south on State Hwy 145 for approximately10.1 miles. Turn left onto County Road 63A (signed as "Trout Lake"). Proceed on CR 63A for approximately 1.7 miles to Forest Service Road #627. Stay to the left on FSR #627 and continue for approximately 2.5 miles to the Hope Lake Trailhead. A high clearance vehicle is recommended for the last two miles of rough forest road that leads to the trailhead."
Our note: Measuring the distance to the trailhead on FSR #627 using the map program, we came up with 2.9 miles. The trailhead is located on a sharp switchback that will be turning back to the left.
The Forest Service site also offers this description of the trail to Lake Hope: "The Hope Lake Trail #410 begins at the Hope Lake Trailhead and ends at the forest boundary with the San Juan National Forest. This is a favorite hike for viewing wildflowers and is one of the most popular trails in the Telluride area. The trail begins to gently ascend through spruce-fir forests until it crosses rock slides and meadows filled with wildflowers. As it climbs, openings in the trees provide nice views of Trout Lake and the nearby mountain peaks. There is an elevation gain of about 800 feet in just 0.6 miles which gives way to alpine meadows where wildflowers often abound. To the east, spectacular Vermilion Peak rises 13,894 feet. As the trail tops a grassy slope between two rocky hills, Hope Lake will come into view. About 0.8 miles beyond the lake, the trail crosses into the San Juan National Forest where it continues for about a mile before intersecting with Forest Service Road #585 (South Mineral Creek Road)."
Trout Lake, where you turn off from the main highway to access the Lake Hope TH, is largely surrounded by private property so few at-large camping places exists. It has been a number of years since we have visited this area and back then, FSR #627 did not extend as far as it does now and the trailhead was found at a lower elevation. (See the old USGS map). It appears that there may be a couple spots along FSR #627 as you drive to the TH, but there is also clearly private property along this route as well, so be careful and respectful. There is a pullout just back down the road from the TH where one could perhaps car-camp overnight.
The nearest National Forest Campgrounds are: Matterhorn and Sunshine, north of Lizard Head Pass on the way in from Telluride; and Cayton on the south side of the pass toward Rico. In addition, there are two other trailhead turnouts/parking areas: one at the summit of Lizard Head Pass and the other south of the pass at the Cross Mountain TH. In general, the closer you get to Telluride, the more difficult it is to find a legal place to camp.