Explore the best trails near Westcliffe with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Great trail. Beautiful views the whole way. I didn't struggle to make it at all, and I am an out of shape flat lander (live at 285'). The hardest part is the final ascent to the lakes, but don't give up they are worth the effort. I calculated (according to the park service signs) as being 13 miles round trip from the parking area not 11.8
Amazing! The hike is arduous and challenging and will force you to mentally buckle down and push harder. The views at each of the lakes are absolutely phenomenal! The hike is incredibly worth it with the views and wonderful sights to see once you hit the lakes.
This is NOT a moderate 4 mile hike! The hike from the Rainbow Trail parking lot to the Dry Lakes Trailhead is 2 miles. The trailhead for Dry Lakes Trail branches off from the Rainbow trail and although the Forest Service sign says 3.5 miles to the lakes, it is closer to 6 miles. The entire hike will be close to 8 miles, which doesn't seem like a big deal for experienced hikers, at least we don't think so, but we didn't pack enough water or food for a 16 mile round-trip hike. The trail is uphill the entire way and full of rather large lose rocks that make it difficult to move at a decent speed. So, to sum it up, start early and pack enough food and water!!
I've hiked this trail to Upper Sand Creek lake probably close to 30 times in the past 17 years. Its my favorite get-away trail with a nice reward at the lake with good sized trout. Expect the hike to take about 30-40 minutes up to Music Pass with an unbelievable view, then another 30 minutes down to the creek crossing and about another 45 minutes up with switchbacks to Upper Sand Creek Lake. Its totally worth it. Great for pack camping to fully experience the area more, with a number of good campsites.
Lake elevation is 11,700 ft, so lake doesn't ice-out until late June.
This is a long hike, so be prepared for that. The lake at the top is absolutely beautiful with only a couple of other campers. We didn't see any bears, but two backpackers we met at the trailhead saw Elk the morning before us. This was my first time backpacking, and while it was definitely difficult, it was a blast and absolutely gorgeous. Bring rain gear as afternoon rains are typical for the area. If you're out there when there isn't a full moon, the stars are incredible. Even if you're exhausted, try to stay up just to see those.
Overall, it's a fantastic hike that's really scenic once you get past the beginning part of the trail.
The description is correct. Be prepared for a very long day, even if you're hiking out there to camp. The area is prone to afternoon storms, so be prepared with a waterproof jacket and poncho! Overall, the views are gorgeous and definitely work the hike out and back. I completed this hike as my first ever time backpacking, and it was a blast. I would definitely also try to go when there isn't a full moon. The stars at night are unlike anything I've ever seen. It gets cool at night so bring a light jacket or long sleeve shirt.