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Backpacking Map

Directions were accurate to TH. Starts in the burn area but quickly drop int the woods along Goose Creek. Good trail conditions all the way to the historic buildings. Just as much up and down coming and going, good training trail. Links up with other trails in the wilderness.


Snowshoed up to Heart Lake on Sunday December30th. The trail was broken all the way to the lake and easy to follow. A little wind when we got out of the trees but wasn’t to bad. Love this trail in the winter and the summer!!!

Snowshoed on 11/22. 8 mile dirt road to the trailhead was clear and I was able to slowly make it in a sedan but 4x4 would make it easier and quicker. Snow covered forest for the majority of the hike wad well packed and don't need snowshoes until you are about a mile or so out from the lake. I decided to make it up to the Continental divide trail but it was very slow going and frustrating to gain ground. can't recommend enough as the 360 view from the top had been one of my favorites. Push yourself that last mile up and you won't be disappointed. Even found some cell signal up there!

Nice little hike in Golden Gate. We usually take the loop counter clockwise to save the good views for towards the end. Steady climb for about 2 miles. The it mellows out until you hit a few steep, rocky spots as you get closer to the lookout. Great views form there. At this time there was snow on more than half the trail but no ice. We did not break out the yak trax today. Very quiet today, although this trail can get crowded in the prime season. This is a good one if you are looking for a little exercise but don't want to drive too far form Denver. Don't forget you will need to get a day pass or CO State Park pass.

Gorgeous trail summer and winter. well traveled so snowshoes are not really necessary till the last mile or so. the winds are strong by the lake so they cover the tracks of others quickly. Veer NorthEast(right) as you climb and you'll get to the clearing. After that's it's just a few hundred feet to the lake.

2 months ago

Slightly snow packed at the top, but beautiful and we almost had the trail to ourselves.

It was extremely snowy this time of year. Do not go without snow shoes. About 90% of the way there I had to turn around because the snow was up to my waist. Still beautiful until that point!

Good hike. Nice steady climb after about a mile of flat. Went in late fall and definitely needed the yak tracks and some good water proof hiking boots. Layers was the name of the game. Bring a wind breaker cause it was pretty windy at Heart Lake.

2 months ago

Snow on parts of upper half of trail. Fortunately for us, someone who knew the trail had preceded us so it wasn’t hard to find the way. Sunny, windy and about 32 degrees at the lake. A beautiful day!

Great hike but has a couple of boulder sections of Black Bear Paw that our 12 yr old border collie had some difficulty with... heads up.

Amazing beautiful Trail! Fantastic rock formations if you go all the way up. We will be back. Camped at
Goose Creek campground, but could have camped on the trail. Got fantastic photos!

on Dark Canyon Trail

3 months ago

Completed a little over half in and out. Very scenic and enjoyed hiking along the river. Trail was a warmer-up for a more difficult trail the following day.

3 months ago

Beautiful hike the Aspens were great on the way up Rich Creek and on the way down Tumble Creek. As always the meadow is a stunning view.

It was an interesting hike . There is a lot of forest(roots) to get through to get to the pretty sites above the tree line. It takes about 1 hr 45 min to get out of trees into meadows and above tree line which is really nice. It took about 2 hr 5min to get to the lake. But guess what? If you hike up that ridge on N side of Lake there is another Lake twice the size of the main Lake. Also, if you have time recommend the hike up to the top of the Pass which takes about 45 min from Lake. The views are amazing and the switchbacks are well maintained . You can see the winter park complex and valley as well as both lakes. If you go to the top it is about 5 hr 30 min total trip plus time you eat and relax at top. If you just go to Lake it’s about 4 hr 15 min plus how long you hang at the lake. If you aren’t going to fish or going to hike to the top, there are shorter, prettier Lake hikes like diamond lake, brained, ect....

We backpacked this loop counter clockwise for Labor day weekend in 2018, camping at the Twin Crater Lakes on the first night and Camp Lake on the second night.

Beautiful area -- lots of water, with many stream crossings that used logs or stones to get across w/o getting wet.

Because we went in September we saw almost no flies and zero mosquitos. There was plenty of water to filter to drink (creeks, lakes, ponds) but it wasn't marshy with a ton of mosquitos. We saw 5 moose, stunning views of meadows and mountain lakes, amazing stars at night.

The Twin Crater lakes were too high (about 11000 feet) and shallow for fish. We didn't see any fish at Camp Lake, but other backpackers said they caught many fish in the Raway Lakes.

The parking lot at the West Branch Trailhead was full Saturday at noon on Labor day weekend, but people can park along the wide dirt road next to the parking lot, so that was not an issue.

Did shorter 20.1 mile loop - in a 3 day/2 night trip.
- Day/Night 1: Parking -> West Branch -> Rawah -> Twin Crater Lakes (hiked up to but camped below lakes) ~6.6 miles
- Day/Night 2: Twin Crater Lakes -> Rawah -> Sandbar Lakes -> Camp Lake Trail (skip Upper Camp Lake Trail, sleep @ 2nd intersect of Camp Lake x Camp Lake Ditch Loop trails ~6.9 miles
- Day 3: Camp Lake -> West Branch -> Parking ~6.6 miles

Highlights!: Excellent clean (spring fed?) creeks at each camp site, even in Sept. West Branch -> Rawah Trail very pretty w/ aspen trees, everything from Twin Crater Lakes, Grassy Pass, to Rawah Lake 3 was superb eye candy, love the sweeping ridge views & alpine lakes. Heard wolves (?) and elk on Night 1 and saw a BIG moose on Night 2!!

Meh: Camp Lake Trail was very muddy & brushy near the lake, even in Sept - best to wear pants and waterproof shoes! Lots more standing dead pine on the Camp Lake side of the trail.

Crowds: Saw under a dozen people per day - day hikers, backpackers, some fishing and hunting. 2 other groups camping at Twin Crater Lakes, 1 at our 2nd camp.

Map Note: National Geographic's map for this area is missing Camp Lake Ditch Loop trail, I don't think those intersections are marked, and while it shows more creeks than All Trails, not all creeks on that map were running mid-Sept, so we were confused about where we were by the end of Day 2.

Love this area. We did the goose creek loop counter-clockwise, 3 nights and 4 days. Days 2 and 3 are by far the toughest, lots of uphill and steep switchbacks. Stayed on McGurdy park trail instead of taking the Lake Park “shortcut”. Pretty much all downhill from Hankins pass back to the trailhead. It was my 10 year old son’s first pack it in pack it out trip. He did great, so any dedicated novice can do this.

Hiked this clockwise Sept 2018. Departed at 4 PM on day 1 and hiked in 5 miles (West Branch Trail to Rawah Trail) and camped near the intersection of Rawah Trail & Twin Crater Lakes Trail. Day 2 we hiked up to Twin Crater Lakes, then followed Rawah Trail to Sandbar Lakes Trail. My trail companion fished in Upper Sandbar Lake (she caught 3 fish) then we camped by Camp Lake. Our campsite was visited by a huge bull moose around dinner time. Day 3 we hiked out via the Camp Lake Trail / West Branch Trail.

Views on the Rawah Trail were terrific. Each day felt different and highly recommend.

We used the book and map by Raymond Ave entitled "Backcountry Adventure Guide to Colorado's Rawah Wilderness"

4 months ago

This was my first time backpacking, and it was a great way to get broken in! Gradual elevation gain until the last mile to Heart Lake. Without a pack, this is a very doable day hike up and back. Beautiful views all the way. Set up camp at Heart Lake, and hiked up to Roger’s pass the next morning. Only problem I had is we didn’t stay long enough!!

Kid friendly camping spots early on, trail was very busy and lots of people with poorly trained off leash dogs. Wilderness area was beautiful, saw some cows in the burn scar area before the trailhead. Spotted some grouse and the biggest beaver dam I’ve seen in person on goose creek.

Beautiful scenery, sort of a desert feel to it at first.

4 months ago

Just finished this hike with my fiance and our dog and it was incredible! We took the Black Bear trail from the Ralston Roost parking area and followed the loop clockwise. I'm really glad we did this because it starts off really steep and rocky, but after you make it to the top and start down on the Horseshoe trail it's less steep and a bit easier. It's nice to get the hard stuff out of the way first, while I'm fresh.

There's some rock scramble areas, and areas where the trail isn't clear due to boulders, but the signage is really good, so keep your eyes open for those. The Meadows are incredibly beautiful and the flowers are starting to bloom. No snow at all on this trail, that was a concern since some of the higher up trails are still snow covered.

We'll definitely add this trail to our repertoire!

Easy hike from a popular trailhead. Would be interested in backpacking here on a weekday in shoulder season (since it was pretty busy) to camp/fish.

We did a night hike under a full moon. It was pretty though, but the trail was pretty well maintained and there are a good number of campsites once you get closer to the lakes.

trail running
4 months ago

one of my favorite trail runs near FairPlay Colorado.

A busy trailhead with a significant crowd until the split with Crater Lakes. The last push from Heart Lake to the top of the pass is steep but rewarding. From there, you can saddle north or south along the ridge to enjoy views down on Winter Park. Passed a young bull moose in the woods on the way down—keep your eyes open—he was in an unusual and unexpected spot for a moose.

Great area for backpacking. Ran into a trail crew while out on my hike. Great people taking care of the trail on a volunteer basis. Stayed at Lower Camp Lake my first night then half way up the Twin Crater Lakes Trail my second night. There's a handful of awesome campsites at the first stream crossing. Recommend staying there instead of going further up because established campsites are few and far between the closer you get to Twin Crater Lakes. Great views from Grassy Pass. Opted to walk out on day 3 instead of going to Island Lake for another night because of torrential downpours, hail, and lightning storms. Every hiker coming out said they saw significant moose activity but I didn't see any. Just a few curious deer checking out my camps.

Such a beautiful hike. Did it as a day trip with a group of 13. The waterfall is absolutely beautiful. Was a great spot to sit and have a snack and rest a bit before continuing to the lake. The 3 miles from the falls to the lake was tough (decent incline and lots of rocks to maneuver over) but so worth the trip. Great place to have lunch before heading back down. I would go back to camp but I would probably drive in from the other side (I'm not in shape enough to pack in on that last 3 miles). So many photo opportunities along the way and you can hear the water flowing for much of the trail. I haven't hiked much this year (nothing beyond 5 miles) so this was a challenge for me but I made it. Bring hiking poles if you have them. We went on a Friday, started at 8:00am and were back to the trail head about 2:00pm. It wasn't busy going in but past a lot of back packers in the way out.

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