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

Day Hikes - To Do Map
1 day ago

Hiked up to the lower lake this past weekend. Microspikes were helpful. I wore gaiters, but my partner was fine with just waterproof pants. We continued on to the second lake with the goal of making it up the pass and encountered pretty deep snow. The trail was snowed over completely and there was a good amount of post-holing and route-navigation. A snowstorm began mid-way through our hike and continued for hours so I'd expect a lot more of the trail might be covered by now. Didn't see any other parties though.

I think the "Hard" rating is a bit generous unless you don't normally hike at this altitude and grade.

Beautiful trail but as previous reviewer mentioned, at some point near the end, the foot path in the snow deviates from the actual trail. I had a GPS with me so was able to figure this out (coupled with clues based on the trail just not seeming right). We never actually made it to the lakes but the hike was still beautiful. I would say if you don’t have a GPS, be careful as just following the footprints in the snow isn’t actually the trail & gets a bit sketchy.

Trail is all snow, most packed by skiers. Final ~1/4 mile to the lower lake is unpacked snow (unless we took a wrong turn, we were definitely off trail on deep snow following footprints).Great hike but with the current conditions if you don’t have snowshoes or skis you won’t make it all the way up.

Went in early October on a cloudy day and got some snow near the top. The lakes were incredible though. Lost the trail on the way to the furthest lake, and ended up doing some rock scrambling that we weren’t prepared for. Saw a moose alongside the road on the way to the trailhead! Def want to go back on a clear day.

This is a beautiful very busy trail after a long ride on Dallas Creek Road parking can be extremely difficult.

15 days ago

Hiked today, 10/29/18. Take county road 7 (Dallas creek) literally until it ends. Its a bit further than the directions tell you-- but no worries you get there. I started my hike at 9:45am and reached the second lake in 3 hours. Just about 2 miles in (around the Mt. Sneffels wilderness sign) I stopped and put on my micro spikes and gaiters. Gaiters weren't needed until the VERY end and spikes were hit or miss but it definitely made it much easier to maneuver.

I made it easily to the lower lake and it was GORGEOUS. I continued on upwards to the second lake and the views of the lower lake were incredible. The snow drift was quite strong and foot prints started to get scarce and it also felt like I was being pelted with small ice from the winds on the back side of the mountain. I looked at the second lake and it was 70% frozen over so I decided to turn back as I was hiking alone. It is definitely worth traveling up there for the views of the lower lake though! If you go that high definitely spikes and gaiters this time of year!

Definitely beautiful. I only saw 2 other hikers all day which was amazing =)

17 days ago

Climbed this one today. And when I say climbed, that's no lie. 95% of the trail is snow covered, with the last 1,000 feet requiring some basic mountaineering skills. Post holing, searching for different routes from the trail (it's disappeared under the snow and you have to post hole all the way up), thigh-deep snow in certain areas. Don't get me wrong - it's breathtaking at the top, but it took some effort to get there. My companion said this was Mt Rainier summit day minus ice axes and crevasses. Spikes, gaiters all recommended. Snow shoes might even come in handy if you're willing to bring them. But I loved it. So, the work aside, it's worth the hike.

19 days 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!

Beautiful!!! Hiked October 20th. Definitely need spikes toward the top. The lakes had two feet of snow! Easy hike. Spikes good P.S there is miss in the trees!!! Yes looks like Spanish moss. !!! Incredible

Beautiful hike, the lower lakes are all but frozen to the edges. There was a fair amount of snow/ice on the trail so yaktrax/microspikes definitely recommended. Also worth noting, there were bear tracks in several areas along the trail and around the perimeter of the south lower lake!

Trail is boot-packed snow and ice the entire way, so yaktrax were helpful. Helene and Odessa were both frozen over, but still well worth the views. Trail earns its moderate rating as you ascend back up to Helene after Odessa (I can see why people one-way this trail and include Fern Lake). This is definitely a less trafficked trail out of the Bear Lake area—didn’t see a soul for over two hours with a sunrise start.

25 days ago

Since last weeks Snow, we brought crampons and poles which made both the accent and decent so much more enjoyable There were people who had to turn around because they didn’t have enough traction.

Gorgeous hike with great vista views of lakes, and a small town on the main highway—both from way above when you are above tree line. Hiked this with my friend on September 26, 2018 and there was only a trace of snow showing anywhere at that time. There is a nice protective moderate size rock hut at the summit. Christians will appreciate the view of Mount of the Holy Cross, a 14’er, which is viewed across the valley once you reach the summit of Notch Mountain. The snowfield in the colour (rock crevices) is visible certain months, and it forms a gigantic cross. I believe it was in the 1940s that many Christians hiked this for a pilgrimage to see the cross. Check a Google search for the story. Note that if you prefer to hike the 14er, Mt of the Holy Cross itself, you probably won’t get much if any view of the cross. Check guides to see. I’ve hiked about 25 hikes in Colorado and this is one of my top two favorite hikes! It was exactly 10 miles round trip with elevation gain if 2857 feet. There is a water source about 40% of the way up.

1 month ago

Lots of variety. Spectacular lake.

Beautiful trail, the Aspens were bright gold. Some of the trail was heavily trafficked but it was never a problem. I am not a very seasoned hiker but I would not rate this trail as Hard. The first two miles are nice wide paths with a slight incline. The last mile to the Crater Lakes is steep, but not difficult.

9/30/18: Beautiful and challenging for a backpack trek. Aspens are great all the way up to the lake. The trail is steep, but not too painful. The trail is very narrow in sections and one portion is cut into a hill and you feel as though you might slide off. Trees were great this weekend. If you’re going up to camp, please mind the 100’ from the lake expectation, even if you see an established camp. Also, to those with dogs: the first few miles are on a southern slope and it was hot. No water access until the lake.

Great fall foliage!

1 month ago

My fiancée and I took on this trail. I did it a couple years ago in September and loved it so I wanted to share it with her. She had never really hiked before, so with a lot of perseverance we made it to the lower lake. She said the trail was challenging but satisfying, the lake was worth the hike and the people were exceedingly friendly. She was glad we got her some high quality hiking boots and socks. Being from Missouri, we sucked a lot of air, but we used a neat little portable oxygen tank we found at the store and made it without too much trouble. I would highly recommend these to those without experience hiking at altitude. It made a big difference. The aspens were beautiful. The vistas were outstanding. We saw marmots, a couple cow elk, a grouse, a trout in the lake and countless songbirds.

1 month 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:
Garmin Activity Going Back:

Beautiful hike with color around every turn. The only reason to go past the first lake is to see it from above, absolutely awesome, the other two lakes are major waste of your time and energy

Disappointing trail, gorgeous lake destination. Did this hike September 26. 90 per cent of this trail is through dense forest with no vistas - you could be in an evergreen forest anywhere in Colorado. Extremely overused trail, not well maintained and poorly designed, employing steep straight up gradients where switchbacks should have been built. No fall color here and in late September obviously no wildflowers. Blue Lakes are in a beautiful setting, especially Lower - with cinnamon orange slopes framing the lake to the east, sharp snowy peak and talus slope to the south. Try Ice Lake Basin nearby for a far superior trail, though harder.

1 month ago

Amazing hike with spectacular views and fall Aspen colors. We did the whole 11 mile loop including Gore Range and Surprise Lake Trails - took us 6 hours.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike!

1 month ago

I loved the scenery on this trail, but it was a bit confusing to get to! The trailhead is actually the Gibson Trailhead and then you take the marker towards rushing creek, from there it’s .5 of a mile until you see a sign that says Lakes of the Clouds. My boyfriend and I thought we were lost multiple times. Other then that, the fall colors were amazing!

Beautiful little trail, moderate until the little bit of scrambling at the end. The lakes are lovely. And it was not crowded at all, only saw one group of 4 backpackers and a couple the entire day.

Alright hike great fall colors great view of little Matterhorn

1 month ago

Awesome hike. Pretty for sure. Pretty tough with a 30lbs pack on though.

Great hike with a friend and well worth the climb to see the 1st lake. It is an emerald green and so clear you can see the lake floor. We went to the 2nd lake and ate lunch before we headed back. The leaves were falling fast, so the autumn beauty is fading fast. Plan to do a weekend trip and camp next year.

We started at Bear Lake trailhead to Odessa and then back to Bear Lake. This trail had some outstanding views, and Lake Odessa was gorgeous. I also really enjoyed this because there wasn't a huge crowd on the trail either. Although there was some great scenery, a decent portion of the trail was a bit boring in comparison to other hikes you can do close by. I highly recommend this trail, but after trying Sky Pond and Black Lake.

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