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

Light traffic lake trips Map
3 months ago

Beautiful winter hike. Trail was packed snow for the first five miles and snow shoes were not needed until after the third stream crossing. I stopped at that point even though I had brought snow shoes with me. Extremely quiet. No one else on the trail for the 4 hours I was hiking.

Only able to get within 1.2 miles of the trailhead due to snowmobile only activity on the road. Wasn’t planning on the extra distance, so we grabbed another trail off of Berthoud Pass.

Absolutely gorgeous the whole way. Nearly everything was covered in snow and the lake was almost completely frozen. A majority of the trail was frozen too so be prepared.
Really not too challenging even with the ice. Nice and gentle inclines most of the way.

We hiked here with our dogs and it was awesome! The trail has a good combination of uphills, downhills, and flat sections and some great views. There was a really nice meadow area near the creek where we left the trail and played in the creek for a bit and the trail was easy to find again, even after following the creek for a while. There was a fork in the trail at one point and we took the right trail which took us to a GORGEOUS view of the creek below, and it was here that we turned around to make it home before dark. Next time we will take the left fork to see where it goes!

This was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. It is a great place to escape the world.

7 months ago

I did this trail 3 times. Very long but views are absolutely gorgeous! Saw a moose twice on this trail. I would do it again. Another gem in Colorado!! Never overly crowded!

After 51/2 hours of hiking from the trailhead (we did stop for pics a video several times) my wife and I made it to the edge of the lake, extremely peaceful and no "humans" nearby at all, just nature! Never thought lakes existed that high. I'm glad my wife and I pushed each other to make it there once we passed Lone Pine Lake. Treacherous trails around the edge of the rocks, but then the trail got better to the lake, very challenging but rewarding! Unfortunately a cold rain poured on us and had to head back to the trailhead head. Saw two cow moose and their calfs on our way back as the sun was setting. Total of 9 1/2 hours round trip. The last half hour of our hiking we finished it in the dark. Loved the entire adventure. Take lots of water and snacks and the proper attire and shoes if planning a round trip.

7 months ago

Great, challenging trail, great views.

It is so beautiful trail, we spend 3 days on it.

8 months ago

Awesome trail. All of the really hard part is in the first 2 miles. We logged this as 6 miles in and 6 out on the GPS. After Surprise lake the trail mellows. We saw lots of mushrooms. No great views until Cataract lake due to dense forest thus the 4 stars and maybe 40 people were up there by Saturday night, we were glad we went Friday as people were struggling to find spots by Sat night. Cataract Lake was hard to fish, nothing bit on good worms in 2 days of fishing. We only caught 3 baby 5 in brookies with metal spoons. Also this is a difficult trail, almost 3,000 ft of elevation gain and 12 miles I'm seeing 8 mile trails with 2,000 ft that are called difficult.

8 months ago

Yep, it's mostly uphill but hey, most of Colorado is! I led the boy scouts up this trail and we made a 4 day event of it. The trail passes Surprise Lake - a picturesque lake with flowering, floating Lilies. If you camp at this lake, I recommend as soon as you see the lake, hop over the little hill on the north and drop down the other side. It's more secluded and off the trail. As the trail continues towards Cataract Lake, it levels out for awhile then, one last upward trek to some really great views then quickly drop down to Cat and Cataract Lake. Be prepared for any weather as we had over an inch of hail that lasted for 20 minutes. Afternoon rain was regular but that didn't last long.

Nice moderate trail. Beautiful cascades

Easy and quiet in beautiful CO

8 months ago

Not the most scenic hike, and pretty much uphill all the way out. That said, Upper Cataract Lake and Surprise Lake both have great camping spots. Went during the week and it wasn't busy at all. Plenty of space. Fun to do once.

Got 2.4 miles in and had to turn around due to weather. Not a hard hike. Nice trailhead

This was a really nice hike. Not too strenuous and not crowded. The trail is in great condition. You get some nice walking by water. But bring bug spray! We lost the trail because of the overgrown brush just before the lake. We also turned back because some hikers coming the other way told us they spotted a bear.

A great, not too crowded hike with river access and a view of Mount of the Holy Cross. I would recommend a high clearance vehicle for the rocky road to the trailhead. Before crossing the creek, the meadow/marshy areas had a lot of mosquitoes. Not too far after the bridge is a steep spur trail down the the creek. On a hot day that was very rewarding. The aspens after the bridge were incredible. Would be great in fall. Surprise Lake is really more of a glorified pond that is quite marshy.

7.8.2017. We started running into snowbanks below Black Lake and up the wide chute that drains into Black Lake. Good to have microspikes. The snow was cold enough that we didn't posthole (luckily!).

It was a pretty long day, 10 hours on the trail, even though we didn't get to attempt The Spearhead itself due to rain, thunder, and lightning. Well worth the efforts, for those who make it that far into the backcountry.

9 months ago

Just got back from backpacking to Upper Cataract Lake. It was stunning. Long, steady uphill until the last half mile when you drop down to the lake. We had two different GPSs that both measured the distance to the Surprise Lake junction as 2.8 miles from the TH, not 2.4 as the topo map shows. We thought we had missed it until we met someone coming down. The first 1.5 miles of trail is filled with wild flowers right now! The trail from Surprise Lake to Upper Cataract is an obstacle course of mud holes and downed trees to navigate over or around (I counted 49 of them) but well worth it. A few small snow patches to cross but nothing dangerous. The west shore of the lake is a boggy mess with all the melting snow so camp spots are somewhat limited right now but we found a great one right near the outflow and a small reflection pond.

Trail is snow free. The hike was gorgeous and we only saw a few other hikers on the trail.

Good road to parking at trailhead, made it with our Prius. Our GPS had it closer to 6 miles rountrip to Surprise Lake. Great hike; we think it's one of the best in the area for a moderate hike

great out and back backpacking trip. Views aplenty from both the valley floor and up the canyon. Saw elk, moose, tons of birds. easy to drop your pack at any of the great sites and continue up to higher lakes - lone pine, Verna, spirit,... Couldn't make it much past Verna, where the trail ends, due to persistent Mid-June snow cover, would've loved to. Also good to get away from the tourist hordes, at least once you're beyond Adams Falls. enjoy!

10 months ago

Did Father Dyer as a 2 day trip. Beginning with a 4x4 trip in from Red Cone and then a night hike; and camped just above Crystal Lake. Did the summit and the ridgeline hike to Mt Helen and descended back the parking area on the second day.

The road to the trailhead was rough and closed off so that we had to walk a mile to get there (not a big deal) and we never found Surprise Lake (that's okay). The hike itself was wonderful; the trail was in great condition, had beautiful views and, despite what some comments say below, was not steep at all in comparison to other trails we hiked nearby.

10 months ago

6/10. Trail up to Surprise Lake is just fine, but the trail leading to Upper Cataract Lake is still snowy as shit. Most of it is compacted so its doable without snowshoes, just a bit more tiring. Had to follow footsteps in the snow and at times was a bit tricky sticking to the trail.

When you get to Cat Lake, the trail leading down to it is completely covered in snow. You will have to climb down the steep snow bank, or just slide down it... but climbing back up sucks hard. There's still a lot of snow around Cat Lake and its a bit marshy, but there are some nice spots to camp out

Snow around Upper Cataract Lake hasn't fully melted either, so camping spots may be limited on weekends.

I hiked up Sat night and came down Monday afternoon. The snow melt between those few days was noticeable. Expect it to be more muddy and slushy in the upcoming week.

10 months ago

Just came down an hour ago. Difficult is a fitting description for this hike. The lake was frozen 100%.the trail was covered in snow about the last two miles . If you're going this week bring snow shoes. On the way in it's all uphill. It was just for the first night. You will sleep in snow for sure for a couple of weeks more. Bonus? This area is not windy.

11 months ago

Amazing hike. Spent two late September nights camping at Lake Verna. After setting up a base camp at Lake Verna, we hiked to three additional lakes (Spirit Lake, Forth Lake and Fifth Lake) fishing, and catching fish, at each location. We encountered a huge bull moose at dusk near Spirit Lake while hiking back to our base camp at Lake Verna. Tremendous views and lots of wildlife.

In/out...hiked it in October, leaves were amazing and very few people out on the trail

on Abyss Lake

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Not the best terrain in March, but the stream was pleasant and bordered the trail for the most part.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

I'm a local, grew up 5 mins away from the trail. I LOVE it. It steep until you get to Surprise Lake. At the end it's a little tricky. You will see a lake and think you made it, but its Cat Lake. I do recall a sign that was there explaining it. Go further up and you will find upper Cataract. There are camping spots around the lake and it's the at the base of Eagle's Nest (Most locals call it Sleeping Indian). An Awesome view the whole way up!!

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