dogs on leash
Beautiful day hike to Whitney Lake at 10,956 feet. Steep in sections. Great panoramic views of ridges and peaks to the south and west. Great variety of terrain and vegetation including Aspen groves--especially in mid-September when the leaves are changing.
I was not a fan of this hike for a few reasons: 1) the hike immediately descends into lower elevation where the creek is and views are inhibited; 2) the terrain rolls up and down for miles gaining and losing elevation which plays tricks on your mind when you're on a long backpacking trip; 3) the hike is almost entirely woody until you reach Harvey Lake (Mile 11); and 4) the trail is badly maintained in parts and overgrown with dense, thick marsh in lowland areas. We hike in 9 miles and did one night before hiking back out. We only did this because neighboring Fall Creek Trail is shutdown due to wildfire. This hike is certainly not on my favorite list.
Definitely start by going up the Missouri pass trail sice that stretch is so beautiful compared to the long walk up to Fancy lake. About 2h up to the first lakes with waterfall along the way. If the weather hits you can easily head back down and still have a good day. If the weather is good, it's totally worth hiking up Missouri pass around. 12'000 ft. The hike down from Fancy pass, pass Fancy lake and down to the trail head is shaded by trees with a few nice spots.
I did this hike 20 years ago with friends when I lived in Vail. Came back today with my family. My daughter and husband loved it as much as I did. Its the perfect Colorado hike. Slight hills. Very cool bridge over the creek. Open Meadows. Side trail down to a waterfall. Amazing trees surrounding you the whole way.