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It's a pretty tough trail and if you are from the plains or lower evaluations, it will definitely test you. I am a big dude, no doubt, but it wasn't my fitness as much the amount of just scree and rock at points that made me want to turn back and once it goes up, it's just steep. We made it to Cameron before I tweaked my ankle and say it wasn't worth it hit Lincoln, which didn't make me happy, but safety before pride.

Road from Alma to the trailhead is alright, but the last mile or so is rough going if you don't drive dirt roads or have 4WD. I drove my Chevy Cruze as close as parking would allow.

Weather was awesome, I didn't even use my jacket. Wind pickup on the ridge, but it wasn't freezing, but we didn't hang out long.

Overall, it's completely doable, but as a fat guy who causally plays in the woods and canyons, I wouldn't exactly call it fun or easy. It was a change of pace, had good views, nice people, and got the heart going.

Completed this hike on Saturday 9/22. This may be one of the most beautiful hikes I have done. Not too bad of an elevation gain but certainly not easy at some points. Luckily, it was the perfect blue sky day with a little wind at the top to cool us off when we reached to top. The views at the lake are incredible and we could have spent all day there if we did not have somewhere else to be. Take a walk around the entire lake to gain a different perspective of just how amazing it is.
The parking lot was oddly packed, as in full at this trail head and almost all the road parking taken for lost lake around 630am. A lot of people were backpacking on this trail and also splitting off to diamond lake. I think as long as the weather stays good and the road open, plan on either starting early or do something later in the day.

Democrat, Cameron, and Lincoln are great, amazing views, but descending Bross is an absolute nightmare. Is there even a trail? Descending Bross is doable if you are comfortable with tons of loose rock and scree. If I had to do it again I'd skip Bross and descend the same way I came up, or do Bross first.

This trail is not for the faint hearted if you want to do all four in the same day. Not going to sugar coat it, for the average joe person, this trail blows. It earns its difficulty rating. It’s really only a “good climb” if you’re the person who likes to brag about the number of 14’ers you climb.

I started around 6am and took Bross first. I AM SO GLAD I DID. It was by far the worst part of the hike and even in the dark I would rather climb that direction first. It’s a complete scramble and STEEP. There were several places where I was on my hands and knees. I can’t imagine trying to go down it after doing the other three summits.

If you plan on taking your dog I would HIGHLY recommend boots for their paws if they will tolerate it. There are no soft areas for them and it’s all jagged rock. This trail was pretty heavily traveled and skinny at many points so make sure your dog friend is friendly to both other dogs and people.

As far as getting to the trailhead, I was able to get my Ford Focus ST most of the way. I was about 100 yards from the main parking area due to the toughness of the road and they have huge bumps/ditches that low cars won’t get over unless you want to risk it. About 2 miles from the trail head the potholes get a little wild so you’ll have to go slow and work around them.

My pup and I bailed on mount Democrat due to her paws and still having to hike back to kite lake. It took us roughly 6 hours to summit Bross, Lincoln and Cameron and make it back to the parking area. Plan accordingly!

It’s VERY windy. And the summits are COLD. Take gloves.

Would I recommend this trail? Maybe. If I know you want to accumulate 14’ers. Will I go back and finish Democrat? Probably not. There’s not to look at besides a mass amount of loose rocks. Being that high is cool but there are WAY better hikes out there.

Me and my pup loved this like - 2 lakes you can stop at, the perfect views 360, steady incline after you pass the last lake but it is so worth it! It’s all exposed so make sure you start early. I was there at 7:15am on a Sunday and plenty of parking. Like others said, it has its own parking lot!

Bear on trail today. We did this route to South Boulder Peak and up to Bear Peak. The distance is reported a little short on the app. Expect 3,500+ ft elevation gain and a 10 Mile in and out hike if you want to bag both peaks at the T in the trail.

Have Fun

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful, fairly easy trail.

hiking
3 days ago

Hiked this route on Friday, September 21 on a clear sunny day when Denver was in the 80's. I arrived at the parking lot at 6.45 and was the first car there. Saw no one along the route until close to the first summit (there are two "summits") so my thought of being the first to the top that day were dashed. The hike to the first lake is easy and there is a second lake about half a mile further on. On reaching that lake I lost the path and so bushwacked up a steep slope to the left of the lake. I eventually reached the main track again. What I should have done was to turn left along the trail marked South Park 160 at the first lake. A short way along this track is the junction point for the start of the real ascent to Square Top Mountain. I only realized this during my return journey. From the lakes the hike is a real grunt up a steep slope. This will test your legs and fitness. I am 65 so my days of long hard hikes are coming to an end but I am proud to still be fit enough for this one. I had to stop frequently on the way up for short (30-60 second) breathers. We are talking about 13000 feet here so that should be no surprise even though I have lived at altitude for the last 30 years. The trail is not always well marked or easy to see and it is easy to end up tramping across the tundra - something I was loathe to do but there wasn't much choice about this. On reaching the first rocky summit the views are so amazing that one is tempted to stop right there. My All Trails app indicated that the end of the trail was further on at the second peak. That peak looks quite a ways off but it only took 15 minutes to get there and the extra uphill was a lot easier than it looked. I do tend to stop for photographs so my journey times are longer than if I solely hiked the route. I took 3 1/2 hours to get to the top and 2h 20 minutes to come down. The down part is about right but without stopping for photos I reckon 3 hours to the top would be more accurate. The descent will test your quads. I saw no large wildlife (bummer) but the solitude I had on this hike was totally worth it. Bierstadt was so much more crowded even at 6.45am. Ah the naiivety of youth! All in all, this is a quiet and beautiful hike although I rate it as HARD, at least by my standards.

Easily one of my top hikes, if not the #1 hike in Colorado. Set off to just do 4 miles to the Fourth of July Mine and just couldn't stop. It's incredible how many photos I took because every time you turned a corner it got more and more beautiful - especially with those aspens showing off right now! Once I got to Lake Dorothy it was nearly 5pm and I wished that I had more time to explore. I will 100% be back. WOW!

beautiful hike with gentle terrain.

We could not have asked for better weather this past week. We hiked to mile 3 starting at about 1pm, arrived around 4:30pm. We’re both in shape but definitely took our time- the views made for good distractions to keep a nice, relaxing pace. We stayed on campsite 10, just after the creek, which had plenty of water to filter. We ended up not building a fire because we were unsure if we could or not. Signs on the ground said no, but the forest website said the ban had been lifted. We didn’t want to risk it. The low got to about 35 degrees at night, clear and no wind. We woke up at dawn and hiked to the top, arriving around 10am. Weather was 60-70 degrees with little wind. The boulder scramble near the top is intense, but fun. A bit stressful going down because the trail isn’t so easy to identify but you’ll find it. Our first fourteener is one I’ll always remember!

Great hike, tough on lungs and legs. No scrambling at all. The pup loved it as it wasn’t all too rocky until the summit

Breathtaking hike!!!! I went in Mid July and got a bit of a late start...5:45 am and was up at the summit by 10:15 am. The clouds rolled in quick and we were off the summit by 10:45 am but eventually had to race down to the tree line with another couple because of the thunderstorms and barely made it! The hike is long and steep but it rolls in the beginning and allows time for your legs to rest a bit. It makes for a long day and a lot of people decided to camp at mile 3. Personally, I don’t think the trail is long enough to make for an overnight camp. In total it took us just over 8 hours. It was a tough hike but we were not hurting the next day. Key to this hike is an EARLY start. I bet trying to see sunrise at the summit would be incredible. Careful coming down the summit over the boulder scramble, I went a little too close to the edge as I was making my way down.

hiking
7 days ago

Awesome trail. Did it over Labor Day and still was quite empty. Could easily be considered hard due to length and elevation gain, but its all worth it for the variety of scenery. Although I saw a few 2wd sedans along the road to the trailhead, 4wd or at least something with clearance is recommended to get there.

Three of us hiked up to Blue Lake, then two of us made our way up to Little Blue Lake using the directions from AllTrails... Well we sort of lost the non-existent trail for a little bit...

The map, and the descriptions takes you through a fun but quite precarious boulder field. You would need to have great mobility to make that trip... Or perhaps there was an easier route we missed when we veered off course a tad.

On the return, we found a far easier way up/down following a cut-off which I will try to show in my labeled photo (the one with all the arrows). If you take the tiny trail up, you can zig-zag your way up and across terrain that is far easier to traverse than the boulder field.

It was magnificent, and while there were a fair few people on trail at 10am on that Saturday, it was far from crowded feeling. There was only one person that adventured all the way to Little Blue Lake while we were up there, so that was as serene as can be!

One moose was spotted nearish the trail towards the trailhead.

on King Lake Trail

hiking
7 days ago

This was my favorite hike ALL summer. Not heavily trafficed, closer to Denver, and stunning views the whole way up! I highly recommend. Make sure you arrive early so that you don't have to hike up to the trailhead. I believe there is public transportation that brings you directly there as well - maybe look into that.

Loved this hike! Great workout, beautiful views. We went from brainard lake, to Mitchell lake, to blue lake. We even saw a moose family along the way!

Amazing hike. A little tough, especially if you’re not used to the elevation, but it has everything. Starts in a forest setting, crosses a couple of creeks and opens up above tree line. Shelf Lake at the top was a real treat and very few people.

Amazing hike and just the right amount of distance to keep the rest of the day open for more adventures!
Got to the upper lot around 630am and there were about 4 other cars there from folks backpacking and also starting early. The first quarter of the drive from the lower to upper lots is the worst of the entire part but it is nothing compared to how bad Grays and Torreys road is. Just take it slow on the bad parts. Even though the lower lots were jammed up, there were a few spots at the top when we finished around 10am.
Great colors with the fall foliage change on the bushes as well as the trees. Silver Dollar Lake(middle lake) was amazing and Murray Lake was about 300ft of elevation gain from there. Dont skip the third lake! There is a rock formation on one side that can be hiked from the backside which will give you a great topside view of the landscape.
As most hiking at this time, start as early as you can! The next few weeks will be jam packed with folks looking at the changing trees. This trail would be incredible with a little snow on the ground.

I read the reviews here and they seemed pretty much 50/50 as to start with Bross or Democrat. We started with Democrat (a nice summit, tough climb mostly because of elevation but some scrambling, too) then went to Cameron. Cameron’s summit was a snooze. Very anti-climactic, nobody else at the top with us, really bland, and unbearably windy. I was having sort of an off day so my friend and I parted ways there; she continued on to summit Lincoln and Bross while I cut Lincoln off entirely and took the shortcut that skips the “closed” summit of Bross but takes you down that side. Since I read the reviews, I knew it would be almost entirely scree but totally underestimated just how terrible it would be. Slid on my butt and/or basically skied with my boots for most of it, and then when that’s all done you still have about another mile of tricky trail until you reach the parking lot. Thanks so much to the friendly dad who chatted with me the rest of the way down—you were a huge help when I was about ready to say f this and barrel roll down and hope for the best. So if I were to try it again, I don’t think I’d descend Bross, but I’m not sure I’d want to ascend it, either. It would be super frustrating to try to go up and lose so much distance with every step. But perhaps it would be easier when you’re starting fresh... I’m really not sure. So, yeah, it was nice to be able to check off multiple 14ers in one go, but the views (at least from Democrat and Cameron) were just slightly better than nice (not stunning) and that Bross descent wasn’t exactly a cherry on top. Overall a 3-star day for me.

What an amazing hike! Its really easy with a bit of a strong incline right before blue lake. Super dog and kid friendly plus there is plenty of space at the lake to hang out.

Amazing hike with 360 views almost the whole way . Beautiful scenery and definitely a diamond in the rough . We didn’t see many people out on the trail and the parking lot is small. The road to the trail is definitely bumpy.. slow going for sure. But don’t let it keep you from going . I wasn’t expecting such an amazing hike . We didn’t get to spend as much time as we wanted at the top because it starting storming and lightening. But the view at the top - AMAZING... half the trail is dirt and some is nothing but rocks. The hike isn’t too strenuous and we only got to check out Lake Dorothy but I would definitely love to go back and explore the rest of the trail .

hiking
9 days ago

We hiked Saturday September 15th. The colors are at or near Peak. Beautiful! The Aspens run just over 1 mile. Lots and lots of color... I've posted a few pictures.

When you reach your destination, enjoy the very old Bristlecone Pines.

Hiked from the trailhead with full packs, which we left at a campsite near East Cross Creek, and continued with day packs to summit in five hours. Holy Cross Mount is located in the center of the Colorado Rockies; the view is stupendous in all directions. We spent an hour on the top just taking it in. Pleasant campout that evening after a two-hour descent to the creek. Took about 1.5 hours to hike out from there in the morning. Very dry route - no water between Cross Creek and the summit so bring a couple liters on a warm day.

My car doesn't have AWD so I parked at the lower lot. When I arrived at 7:45am on Saturday there was still plenting of parking spaces. This trail packs a lot of great views in its short length. I found this trail easy except for the short but steep climb to the third lake, which is worth it for the views from the top. I recommend coming early to this hike, when I left at 10:30am the trail and the parking lots had become very crowded.

hiking
10 days ago

went yesterday and the leaves are just about done falling off the aspens. Today will likely be the last day the hike will be good to see the aspens. low bush foliage is very pretty at the end in the bowl.

this trail was amazing. parked at the trail head the night before and slept in my car. the lakes were cool and the summit even better. went on a Saturday and only ran into a handful of hikers. when we got back to the parking lot it was packed with the bierstadt crowd. definitely recommend for a challenging, rewarding, and less crowded hike.

Nice relaxing hike with beautiful scenery, scenic overlooks and wildflowers. The second half of the hike is above the tree line.

Make sure you go all the way to the third lake.

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