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

Backpacks Map
VIEW FULL MAP

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!

Tough and beautiful - worth every step!

hiking
2 days ago

Hike and mountain scenery is pleasant however the 10 mile long forest road filed with Rental Vehicles driving like pricks and the Denver crowd flocking to the trail with Bluetooth Speakers and trash everywhere make for an overall unpleasant experience.

This hike was absolutely beautiful! The falls and the views were totally worth the above moderate climb.

One of my favorite hikes. It does have a bit of a steep start and it's exposed so the sun can feel really intense. After it levels out it's a great hike through rocks and trees, over a few small streams. You come to a small meadow with amazing views then the waterfall...so gorgeous!
We timed it right and had it too ourselves for about 20 minutes. The water was cold and refreshing.
We have horses and don't care that there's poop on the trail.
We also don't mind people because they're just out enjoying it too.

Great trail along creek, then up to views, then to ponds. Last bit of trail overgrown with mostly ferns. Easy to follow. Pond level down since it’s August. Overlooks and creek are fantastic on sunny day. Nice view of vail and holy cross. Creek refreshing stop along the way.

hiking
5 days ago

We did two miles in and two back after finding ourselves with some extra time. Nice hike, not too challenging. In the sun a lot, so starting earlier is better. Views of the ridges above you are very impressive. Otherwise nice but not spectacular. Not crowded.

On the drive here make sure you pay attention to private property/no park access signs. Apple maps sent us driving through a private development that does not connect, and we had to retrace our steps and follow the signs on the road.

The hike itself was fairly dry and scrubby for the first mile or so, before getting more woodsy. The waterfall is beautiful! Make sure you don't miss the left turn to the falls, we accidentally continued on towards the lake for a few minutes before realizing we had passed the falls. The hike was fairly busy, we saw several groups of people, particularly around the falls.

Probably the most beautiful hike in Colorado. Waterfalls, wildflowers, about 10 lakes, fabulous views and incredible rock formations. By the times you hike around the lakes you’ll probably hike around 12 to 13 miles. I recommend taking trekking sticks as there are some steeper rocks to climb over.

hiking
9 days ago

Can’t say a lot about the trail. I loved what I saw , but after a mile in , in the drizzling rain it started lightning!! So , this will have to wait until a better day!

Great first hike for the family in Colorado. Beautiful views along the way made way for a nice waterfall. We started at 8am and did not see another person until close to the waterfall. Way back was many people. Start on the early side. Kids age 9 - 15 did pretty good. Quite a few water breaks on the way up but they did It.

Well worth the time to see the beautiful falls. We were there on a Monday mid day and it was quite crowded. Tough hike up, easy hike back.

Beautiful hike! Lots of horse poop and plenty of people but still a perfect day.

hiking
16 days ago

Beautiful and not crowded!!

This is a really nice trail with great views, beautiful forest and waterfalls on the way up. Views at the lakes are nice. Great day in the hills!

Great hike to to a beautiful water fall! Totally worth it!

backpacking
16 days ago

Spent 5 days at Upper Cataract lake. As others have said, the hike is not exactly easy but if I can do it it's not impossible (I was clocking a 40-50 minute mile). The lake is spectacular. Especially the side that has the shear cliffs. That side also has incredible fishing. Caught many brookies, browns, and hybrids.

Mirror lake, in my opinion, is okay but not nearly as nice as Upper Cataract. If you hike to Mirror lake be sure to cross the stream that runs out of Mirror lake even though you probably won't see the trail on the other side. Don't be tempted by the trail to your left unless you really, really like making your way over a very large boulder field. Don't ask me how I know.

Such a beautiful hike up, and of course amazing lake at the top. Good workout too!

Only completed a couple of miles of this trail completely unplanned as we were on our way through Colorado to get to Utah, but I would definitely make an effort to get back there one day so I can make it further on seeing this trail. Between the pine-rowed canyon cliffs, the sights and sounds of the streams, and the mix of sunshine and shade, I felt that this trail in summertime embodies about everything I have always loved about Colorado. Seemed very family friendly also.

hiking
18 days ago

This trail is filled with incredible beauty. The wild flowers during the summer are a very nice touch. The fishing in the upper lake was great. Overall excellent trail for family.

Outstanding trail. Great for a family hike. Loved the waterfall and spring fed streams.

This is a great hike if you prefer less traffic. There are some areas of thick vegitation towards the top of the trail, however this was also where we saw elk. The lake at the end was more bog like, but was worth the hike as the entire trail was beautiful!

went up on 7/23 it was absolutely gorgeous. the wildflowers were peaking. there were not many people on trail. we encountered a bit of rain, but it wasn't too bad. the only thing i will say is the mileage on this site is incorrect. it is 8.9 miles there and back. well worth it.

There is a lot of horse poop, for sure. But the payoff is worth it!

backpacking
23 days ago

I’ve lived in CO for 5 years and this one of the best hikes I’ve done here! We choose to backpack to the biggest of the Missouri Lakes below Missouri Pass and camp on the northeastern side; bit of a challenge going up the trail with full packs but worth every minute.

The trout are incredibly active right now and the water was chilly but great for the hot day. Make sure to bring bathing suit, something to float on the lake with, a hammock, and filtration pump!

Lots of horse poop!!! Otherwise a great hike with an awesome finish!

Hiked this trail on a whim. Fairly easy going, but same view of creek for most of the hike. Not incredibly busy, but still a lot of people on the trail. Not a bad way to spend the morning.

hiking
24 days ago

Amazing trail with a lot of water features along the way. One of my favorite hikes ever. And not very busy at all - huge perk.

Wonderful trail, moderate paced hiking but still challenging enough to be fun. Stunning views throughout the trail.

Only down side is that there are a few patches of thick vegetation throughout the trail, but overall, fantastic.

Amazing waterfall. Not too crowded during the week.

Load More