Explore Later - 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
1 month ago

Amazing hike through beautiful alpine meadows with wild flowers and marmots. The lake is stunning!

hiking
4 months ago

Was up there this week on Wednesday the 22nd of November. I hiked up to the falls at first and that was a piece of cake. The falls around about 4km one way and then I hiked towards the lake. Did not need any special gear. Had solid 3 season La Sportiva waterproof booths and great hiking / also use them for skiing north face summit series pants. Since I forgot my gaiters a taped my ankles with a lot of masking tape. All he Way from the shoe up to my knee. This served as my gaiters. Past the falls I was was the only one and also the first to do a snow pack. There was no need for crampons (maybe snow shoes) and I did struggle in terms of a more strenuous effort of going up. It was heavier on my stamina. I turned around about 0.4 miles from the lake or so. Like someone in the comments below suggested they saw the trail end there lol! I turned because it was 3pm and I needed time to go get down + room for extra light in case of an injury. I had a drone with me so I flew up from the spot I was in and got to see the lake that way :) I was really close but at the end it was just snowing + getting dark + the snow in some parts was chest deep without any trail or snow pack to follow. Kinda bummed out since I was so close but all an all great hike. I think this hike in the summer is a peace of a cake. Curious if you can hike from the lake to one of the peaks? Does anyone know ? Cheers! My time was 3 hours up (including a lot of photography) and 30 minutes down (full on running)

hiking
4 months ago

Completed this hike in both the summer and winter. Yesterday I attempted to make it to the lake but there was a lot of snow, I was not properly prepared. The trail to the falls was snowy but doable without spikes/traction devices. Past the falls the trail was barely trafficked and my spikes were necessary. The trail disappeared about 0.25 miles from the lake and the snow was thigh high in some places. Trekked through it for a bit but I eventually had to turn around (no snow pants or snow gear with me). On the way down I saw a lot of people struggling to make it to the falls without spikes/ traction devices. Highly recommend them for the second half of the trail in the winter months.

Awesome trail!

hiking
5 months ago

While moving towards the trailhead you enter a aspen tree tunnel, and as it clears you are greeted by grand views of forest, creeks, and Capitol peak in the distance. The trail as some points I found a bit confusing to follow, due to cattle grazing trails in the area, but it is not hard to stay oriented in the direction you need to go. Beautiful open fields filled with flowers, delicious snow melt creeks, and towering rocks made this an unforgettable hike for me. I just went for the day, but it seems like a great place to stay overnight. Also the road to the trail was under-repair, so it may be nicely paved by now. Cheers

hiking
5 months ago

I haven’t done the whole thing, but there are some beautiful views in miles 2 and 3 that make it a hike worth doing at least once.

hiking
5 months ago

This is a great day hike!

5 months ago

We mistakenly took the trail head and lower Piney lake and then Meadow Creek Road. Still pretty but the 9-mile dirt road made me like it less than others.

6 months ago

A beautiful place to be, conveniently close to town as well. If you've got the stamina to rock this trail then do it...great view of holy cross while going up to the lake. Most people stop at the falls a few miles in - it's very worth it to keep going. Big family of marmots live up top at the lake and they will surely be scoping you out and talking to each other!

beautiful trail that has open space and fields within the valley surrounded by Aspen's. We went on Oct 1st 2017 and what a view. Very easy trail with many spots of the river and surrounding steppes.

hiking
6 months ago

Came back to do this hike in the fall for the changing color aspens and was SO worth it. The aspens were still almost full blazing color changes of yellows, oranges, and reds it was so beautiful. It snowed earlier in the week so as we got higher up there was some snow to trek through and then the weather got funky so we headed back before we got to the lake but we will be back (probably next fall) for the colors and to try and finally get to that lake.

Long and bumpy dirt road to get to the lake. But worth it! The lake itself is gorgeous, but the trails around it were just decent in my opinion. The real prize is the lake, which you don’t even have to hike to get to, it’s right where you park.

The views from the whole trail are stunning. When I imagine Colorado this is what comes to mind. Wildlife is everywhere. We saw a bald eagle and a moose. This was a great trail!

It is absolutely worth the looooong drive down the dirt road. The view of the lake when you get to the ranch is stunning. The hike itself is relatively easy. There's only a short bit of climbing. Really beautiful with the golden aspens this weekend. We also saw a moose on the drive in!

Loved this hike so much we've done it twice in two weeks and 1/2 way with our 5 year old. Love love love

Really nice trail. Lots of variation between forest and fields. I went all the way up to Gore Lake. Tough incline on the last part but worth it. Only criticism is the trail was really rocky so I was constantly looking down at my feet to make sure I didn't trip instead of looking at the gorgeous view.

Hiked mid-September.Made it to the lake in 2hr 30min, spent 20 min at the lake, and 1hr 50min back to the car. I didn't really stop to take any breaks outside of taking photos. I was the 3rd car in the parking lot on a Friday morning at 7:30. Had the lake all to myself, but crossed paths with dozens of people on the return hike and the parking lot was completely full. Aspen leaves just starting to change but wild flowers are few and far between. Beautiful views and the lake is the highlight. The falls were nice but tough to get a good view or decent photo. Be prepared for a long climb!

100% worth the drive - we did it in a rental Ford Fusion, so you can do it in anything. Piney River Ranch at the trailhead is super hospitable, and the trail is gorgeous. I'd rate it as easy though, other than the fact that it's a little long out and back.

All the good of Colorado. Even the drive, while a little rough is 5 star.

This is my all time favorite hike in the Vail area, for all the reasons listed below. And it is more like 10 miles than 7.5. Fancy is 2,000 vert gain in 2.3 miles, and the best way to start. Awesome!

Lovely hike! The trailhead can be difficult to find for a first-timer to the area. Be prepared for a long bumpy ride. I wouldn't drive it in a two wheel drive car. At first, we stopped at the lower Piney trail. Don't stop there. Go all the way to the lake at Piney River Ranch. When we left around 12:30, the parking was pretty full so go early. The trail is 3 miles to the falls which are pretty, but not super impressive as falls go. The first two miles are easy and then it gets hilly and rocky. Anyone in relatively good shape can do it. The views and aspen trees are gorgeous. Saw 4 moose before reaching the trailhead on the road. In a Jeep, the drive is half the fun.

Finally got back here to bag this one. Backpacked it. First night on Royal, second night at Lower Crystal Lake. Beautiful hike, but extremely tough. Class 3-4 scrambling until the summit of Peak 4. Enjoy.

We hiked up to Fancy Lake, over Fancy Pass and Missouri Pass, and through the Missouri Lakes.

Having done many hikes in the area, this was hands down the most beautiful I've experienced yet. Endless lakes, wild flowers and gorgeous peaks.

Our trip logged more around 11 miles. Very glad we started up Fancy because it was a shorter -- however steeper -- hike up, and everything was very easy from there on out.

If you have the endurance and lots of snacks and water, very worth the day!

Hiked to Fancy Lake and back today at 3:47pm. Found purple indian paintbrush near the lake and watched the rainbow trout jumping and swimming! Awesome!

This is a beautiful hike! I wouldn't necessarily classify it as moderate, there were sections that were more challenging but overall pretty easy. Important note...this hike is 3 miles in to the Falls, you have to hike another 4 beyond that to get to Upper Piney Lake. We had a family member with us from TX and the altitude was getting to her so we didn't go beyond the falls. Truly so many beautiful photo ops and the leaves are changing already! Be ready for an EXTREMELY bumpy, slow ride in and zero cell service!! The 12 miles in took 45 min. Enjoy!

Pretty approach. Well designed switchbacks. Great summit ridge view of Mt. Holy Cross.

hiking
7 months ago

Tough hike, stated 5.5-6 miles to the lake seems MUCH longer but I guess not. If you don't enjoy steep ups and downs use Ditch TRAIL which cuts into Capitol a few miles in, not as much water for the dogs though.

hiking
7 months ago

This is my Favorite 14er so far amazing hike in to base camp. Nice gradual gain for carrying in all your gear to drop at camp. We summited the following morning leaving camp around 4:45 and Summiting around 9 am. The hike to the summit is not for the faint of heart very difficult and technical and has lots of loose rock. Crossing Knife Edge is the most talked about part, but I found it to be not as bad as the traverse across the back of the summit and climb up the ridge to the summit. All in all great hike and climb. I would recommend a 2 day trip as we did to make the summit round trip a success.

hiking
7 months ago

I would classify our group (4 of us) as intermediate hikers, although being from the Midwest, we don't get to experience the elevation or climb like hikes in Colorado. We found this hike moderately hard, but an excellent challenge. It was certainly worth the many switchbacks and steep rock climb / descent. The view of the two lakes as well as Mt of the Holy Cross are gorgeous. We were told to start as early as possible (5am), and this was good advice. We ended up actually starting at 5:30am, and we had plenty of time to summit, descend and begin our car ride back before it started to rain. Especially if you're not used to the elevation, bring plenty of water. I drank 3 liters, and this was sufficient, but I probably should have had more. The temperatures at the top were likely in the mid-40s, so wear layers and prepare for wind at the top. We packed trail mix, boiled salt and parmesan potatoes, Clif Bloks, peanut butter pretzels and jerkey, and we felt our nutrition plan was very successful. This is a beautiful hike where you can experience a variety of terrains, wildlife and flora. We would love to do this one again if we return to the area.

First off, Id say this is a beautiful hike and relatively challenging. The most challenging part for me was dealing with the altitude. I just came in 2 days ago from Los Angeles and being at 10,000-12,500 ft above sea level destroyed me with headaches and nausea the entire way down.

I started up Fancy Pass Trail, and the trail gets confusing near the first lake, Fancy Lake. The trail seemed to continue around the lake to the left but actually the trail continues up to Fancy Pass to the right of the lake. Keep this in mind!

After Fancy Pass and looping around to Missouri Lakes I ended up taking what I thought was the trail (and it was well traveled) until it brought me to a dead end. There was no trail in site. I bush whacked, following the stream down, until I finally ran into the trail 30 minutes later. So be careful!

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