Explore backpack 7.18 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
20 days ago

Did a 10 mi. loop that included other lakes. Wild flowers in late July & spectacular views of other peaks could not be better.

hiking
1 month ago

My experience was very much like the review of Anna Borg.

I hiked the trail on October 30, 2018. Didn't see anyone else out on the trail.

Incredible scenery and a great payoff at the end. The lower part of the trail was a little wet and muddy in a few spots, and the last mile or so was covered in snow and ice, but easily passable.

hiking
1 month ago

Did this trail today, 10/27/18, from the slavonia trailhead and loved it! The scenery takes you through tons of aspens (which are still gorgeous bare, but the leaves are gone now), rocky landscapes, lots of river crossings, and WOW that scenery! The last mile up/down to the lake from the largest river crossing is currently icy snow pack mixed with some rocky/muddy terrain, which made our trip take a bit longer and took more energy. Clocked 9.28 miles and 2000+ elevation gain as a heads up as well.

trail running
2 months ago

Heavy incline with the altitude but through piney single track. Rocky but not overly technical, small lake at the end and an easy pacer down.

backpacking
2 months ago

Really fantastic hike from Surprise Trailhead to Upper Cataract Lake. About 11 miles round trip. From Surprise Trailhead to Surprise Lake, it is 3 miles of steady uphill. Then gets easy the rest of the way.

From Upper Cataract to Mirror it is about 2 miles, mostly downhill. Total, if you go a little past Upper Cataract to Mirror Lake you're looking at 14 miles round trip, with only about 3 miles of difficulty in the beginning.

Once you get to Upper Cataract Lake the trail diverges in multiple places but it finally comes together on the way to Mirror Lake. We found a campsite about .33 miles from Mirror Lake and used that but there are plenty of spaces around Mirror Lake and it is less crowded than Upper Cataract and not too much further.

Note: there is NO camping within 100 feet of the lakes and no fires allowed within .25 miles of any lake. Stoves are ok. There are few campsites within .25 miles of any lake, so be prepared to camp without a fire if it is crowded.

Garmin Activity Going Up:
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3055444761
Garmin Activity Going Back:
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3055454799

dogs are only allowed on leash for the first 3.1 miles, before the trail cruises into Rocky Mountain Wilderness Area, where pets are not allowed at all. I was really looking forward to this hike, and thus, pretty annoyed when I arrived to the very clearly marked trailhead. the stream along the trail was completely dry in late Sept, not that surprising, but still disappointing. & there was little to no foliage along the trail that i COULD do with my pup, which I was looking forward to, but that's not the trail or AllTrails' fault that there weren't many aspens along the route. I wish I'd planned my day currently.

Beautiful trail in the fall, even if you just go to Independence Lake.

Tough but soooooo worth it!!!

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail minus the horse poo... Lots of elk hunters out currently. Only saw 2 deer on the trail. Lake is gorgeous. Hike the entire loop if possible. I believe the AllTrails mileage is off though. Our gps tracker said 5 miles to the lake from the Gilpin trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Loved this hike. Started at Lost Msbn TH and walked up to what might be described as the head of the valley about halfway before turning back. Pity this 'loop' trail doesn't end back at he same spot. A real walkers hike rather than a climb at least for the part I did. Super views and open all the way. Saw one person on the way back in the afternoon, a hunter looking for deer. Hope he didn't find any.

hiking
2 months ago

The leaves are starting to turn on the way up. The water color of the lake is as blue as Maroon Bells! Beautiful turquoise! Chilly water temp. Will do the full circle next time.

hiking
3 months ago

Very nice hike
Beautiful views
The lake is also beautiful
The way in is a steady gradual climb with only a few switchbacks
The first half is shady
Would be a nice trail run for advanced runners

Loved this hike. It was tough but well worth the views when getting to meadow mountain. ♥️

hiking
3 months ago

My boyfriend and I were originally planning on hiking Mad Creek Trail yesterday, but realized that we had already hiked that several years ago. We decided to hike something different so continued to drive towards Steamboat Lake. We ended up finding Slavonia Trailhead, and decided that would hike a few hours and then turn around thinking that Gilpin Lake was actually 6 miles one way. Fortunately, another hiker told us that Gilpin Lake was only 4 miles one way, so we charged on. It was well worth it. Crystal clear lake and not too many people at the actual lake. We were sluggish that day, but it took us 4 hours round trip. Not too mention, the best part was that we saw a bear and her cub driving back from the trail towards Steamboat. :)

backpacking
3 months ago

Prime time right now. Just go, you won't regret it. Spectacular views once you get about 2-3 miles in heading toward Gilpin Lake via Clockwise hike. Did one night, would have loved to have done 2. So much to explore and do including jumping into the lake!

5.9 miles and 2362’ gain from Surprise Lake TH to Upper Cataract lake. Although steep in the beginning, the trail mellows out around 3 miles and it is so beautiful.

We backpacked one night. There’s a permit to fill out at the TH—please read the rules. All of the lakes here have a 100 foot minimum perimeter to camp nearby. Even though you see a spot right next to the lake, you should move back and away from the water.

We observed several groups of people and dogs camping a mere 4 feet from the lake shore. Please follow backcountry rules! Keep it beautiful.

We found plenty of great spots tucked up above the lake and in the trees, you just have to look for them. Great spot for fishing and set in a beautiful basin.

Moderate, my ass. Hiked this today. And I hike the backcountry a lot. Went clockwise from Missouri lakes trailhead. Fine up to the lakes but then a butt buster on fancy pass over the ridge. Rocks and steep as hell. Snowed on me and you have to cross it twice. Coming down, signage is bad. Follow fancy pass lake trail. I goofed and went left and ended up on holy cross city 4x4 trail. Lots of fresh bear droppings. Still, stunning scenery.

backpacking
3 months ago

First part of the trail from the lower lake is a steep grade change. Grade calms down after surprise lake, but is still a climb. The Eagles nest route is longer but less of a climb. This trail has become very popular since the first time I hiked it 40 years ago. Beautiful views, while a backpacking trail it can be a day hike, but start early as weather is always a factor.

We did this entire loop yesterday. We started on Fancy pass trail which worked well because it was steeper and descending down Missouri Lakes trail was a breeze. Be careful staying on trail at Missouri Lakes. We got sidetracked as there are many paths around the lakes.

Such a pretty trail, and the lake is lovely. If it weren't for the drive to the trailhead this would be one of my regular day hikes. 1 hour and 20 minutes each way at a good pace.

Was disappointed that AllTrails didn’t mention is was 10 miles off road, steep, hairpin turns to make it to this trail. Started to feel uncomfortable since we were not in an SUV and had to around.

Beautiful hike! Definitely recommend doing it clockwise as the last 3 miles of Fancy Lakes Trail were down, down, down. Great hike for day hikers or those wanting to camp. Stunning views, with plenty of places to fill up for water. Wasn't too crowded on the trail, great for dogs. Water was very cold, but not cold enough to stop one lady from skinny dipping which was an added bonus! If you have the time I recommend checking out Holy Cross Trail. It only adds a couple of miles and is a very easy hike.

This is a great short backpacking trip with stunning views and very few people (once you get over the pass). We spent two nights camping at Fancy Lake and had it completely to ourselves. Climbing the two passes with heavy packs was a chore (especially getting down the scree slope on the east side of Fancy Pass) but the scenery is spectacular, with numerous alpine lakes and viewpoints. After we set up camp, we did some day hikes and explored a couple of abandoned mine shafts. The Forest Service road up to the trailhead is pretty rutted...a high clearance vehicle is a must.

The Fall Creek trail head is adjacent to the HalfMoon Pass trail head. This trail is moderate with small inclines and a few narrow parts on the trail- the lake at the end is very pretty and you have the option to hike past it to the pass for more incredible views.

HalfMoon Trail is definitely more challenge with the steeper incline, but Lake Constantine is a longer more moderate trail option.

Great hike! Easily found the trailhead: forks off of ski road. It was pretty easy until you get to the tundra and summit the peak. Definitely felt longer than 8 miles. The views are amazing and the trail is very well kept thanks to Ranger Jessica!! Beautiful.

BEAUTIFUL hike. My watch said it was 9 miles. Started at 8am, made it to the summit of the second pass by noon. Went with my mom who lives at sea level, but otherwise great shape. She had a hard time with the second pass. Gorgeous views the entire way. Lots of water for the pups to drink.
I give it four stars because some asshole left their human shit wrapped in paper towels on a pile of pinecones at a camp site that you walk right through and my dog ate it. So whoever you are... your shit you left behind is no longer there. Also. You’re a piece of shit too. Please learn backpacking etiquette before doing this again.

Spectacular!

hiking
3 months ago

This hike was not strenuous but it was fun and it did get my heart going when I kicked up the pace. I have to admit- it’s hard to keep pace with the endless beauty this hike brings. I was mesmerized by the wildflowers, trees, mountains, and wildlife all around. The lake at the top was peaceful and I saw a moose and all sorts of smaller creatures all along the way. It took me about 5 hours up and back- but I stopped many times to take it in and get photos. I highly suggest going in the afternoon- there is more wildlife and less people! Enjoy!

Awesome hike! Beautiful the whole way! Not a “difficult” hike—more like a moderate— and the uphills had some nice flattish spots thrown in to give you a break. Wished we could have stayed longer to explore. Would definitely do it again!

Challenging (moderate/difficult) to Surprise Lake and a more moderate second half to Upper Cataract Lake. We left the TH at 6:30am, arrived at Upper Cataract shortly after 9:00am. We fished with small spinners and spoons and caught four brook trout. Great hike, we will be back to camp at Surprise Lake!

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