Explore Mountain Loop Highway - 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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We did this hike today and it's beautiful. The first cave is easily accessible however the others require little effort but worth it. There was a water curtain due to a small water fall behind the cave in the last one. It was worth taking the effort to go up till there. We actually entered and experienced the cave from inside however one of the cave, which was small and fragile collapsed right behind us, be careful and don't risk.

Well maintained, light traffic, beautiful and not a huge commitment. I had trekking poles but didn’t hugely need them. No sign of bears, just an odd amount of slugs drying in the sun. Easy parking, free and no way to get lost.

Nice easy to get to hike. A good amount of people and dogs however on a Thursday morning. Still very enjoyable.

hiking
2 days ago

Awesome trail, but try to avoid it on weekends. It is literally the interstate of hikes.

backpacking
2 days ago

This trail absolutely destroyed my legs, went camping for 2 nights, Gorgeous scenery, but do not let the "light scrambles" confuse you. There were some parts where I should have hiked in a ladder. All in all the hike is beautiful but a very very strenuous all uphill/rock climbing hike

We did this hike on July 29th. This is an easy hike that our 3 year old can easily walk himself. Even though it’s a short hike, I still recommend bringing water. A great place to pack a picnic.

hiking
5 days ago

We loved the hike and would recommend it to others. But we have a few words of caution. Though very beautiful, the bluffs and scenery were somewhat difficult to see due to so much smoke in the air from fires. Afterwards, I asked about the smoke at the nearby ranger station and the ranger did not know the origin of the fires causing the smoke. On our descent we ran into two families with kids aged about 4 to 10. The kids were struggling, especially through the rocky sections. I would hesitate to take young kids on this trail unless they're used to hiking a lot.

Beautiful hike. Well maintained "manicured" pathway that's friendly to visitors of all abilities including kids on strollers. Trail ends near the caves and many will go off the trail to get close at their own risk.

hiking
6 days ago

Absolutely loved this hike! Took Lower Elliott on the way up and Upper Elliott on the way down. Lower had beautiful scenery and soothing water sounds. The last mile of the hike is the toughest part and the trail gets a bit confusing but the lake is worth every bit. So beautiful, great for a swim and plenty of trees for your hammock ;) The waterfalls near the lake were equally breathtaking! We went later in the day on a Sunday and ran into very few people, even at the lake. Upper is perfect for the way down because it’s majority downhill. As mentioned in another review, make sure you have the right pass because they’ll get ya. I will 100% be coming back here.

on Heybrook Lookout Trail

6 days ago

Up, up, and up. It seemed to never end. I have done longer hikes with more of an elevation gain, but this one hits you very fast and strong. Someone else suggested poles, I agree and wished I had brought mine.

hiking
6 days ago

TLDR... Very worthwhile hike, if early. Bummer crowds. Keep your dog on it's leash for the love of all things decent. Nike running shoes will get you there, but for sure would recommend boots.

We got to the trailhead around 7:15 am and the lot was only about half-full. We were pretty fortunate to not encounter anyone for over a mile and a half - just the sweeping fog and light rain. The hike itself is a relatively gentle climb through some old growth and a couple slightly more tedious sections (think Pennsylvania on the AT) added in for a nice kick. The trail is well maintained. The alpine lake at the top is gorgeous and was well-worth the trip up. We strolled around the lake for awhile before the crowds arrived and decided to head back down around 9:45 am.

Unfortunately once we started heading back down we were smacked with a never-ending (as in, from the lake down until the parking lot) line of people heading up. The crazy foot traffic was harsh, but not nearly as lame as how people treat that place. We encountered about 10-15 deposits of trash that were not on the trail when we ascended a couple hours earlier and lwayyyyy too many groups of tech-bros and bro-ettes that were letting their dogs run off the leash - WE GET IT, you're dog is "chill" but with the amount of traffic (and kids), coupled with how narrow and rocky it can be at times, the entitlement isn't warranted or beneficial.

All-in-all, the hike is incredibly enjoyable and not very taxing and could be rated +4/5 on quality of trail, scenery, and workout alone. However, considering you're bound to come across a bunch of people here, it's worth knowing that... yup, a bunch of them suck.

hiking
6 days ago

The view at the top is totally worth it!

hiking
7 days ago

Great hike, good views, and fun rugged terrain that will challenge you. Trekking poles recommended for anyone doing this trail, especially for inexperienced hikers. This trail is a bit longer than the posted 9 miles due to the 3/4 mile walk from the mountain loop road to the trailhead.

on Lake 22 Trail

hiking
7 days ago

Hiked this last week with a girlfriend and kids (ages 9-15). Definitely bring water. Gets rocky but still doable in regular running/athletic shoes. I’m not in great shape (lol) but we all made it up and back okay.

Lake is gorgeous and worth the work to get up there. We did it on a weekday, started about 10:15am - got back to car about 3:15pm. Slow and steady and hung out at lake for a bit and ate our lunches. Several waterfalls along the way. Well maintained trail. Mostly in forest.

Neat, short trail. Decent little hike. Very public-friendly. Prone to crowds. Amazing views. Was very rainy before the holiday this year, but still well-worth the hike. LOTS of dogs

hiking
10 days ago

I went on the 4th of July. I lucked out with parking. Judging by the amount of cars, I considered not going but was able to get a parking spot at the trailhead. Based on the amount of cars, I was pleasantly surprised to not really meet up with too many people for the about the first mile. The rocks weren't as bad as the roots as people have mentioned. I wouldn't take little kids but I saw plenty trekking without a problem. I had a dog and encountered about 18 others throughout the day. All but one were on leashes. The mud greets you near the top. I'd say the last half mile. The worst part were the bugs at the top. I didn't notice them once I crossed the wood planked walkway. definitely be prepared. Beautiful, relatively easy hike. I'd defi do it again.

hiking
10 days ago

Gorgeous/ Moderate hike/ worth it!!

hiking
11 days ago

easy to find, well maintained, mostly shaded moderate hike. would definitely do it again. nice little lake at the top to stop and eat lunch.

hiking
11 days ago

absolutely beautiful hike and Lake. You can even see some trout swimming around in the lake. Still some snow up on the canyon wall set if you're careful you can get up to. As a reminder people with dogs please pick up your droppings.

Nice short hike, great view! Would do again!

hiking
11 days ago

Arrived at 7 AM on Sunday morning and had plenty of parking space. However, in the 5 minutes it took us to get ready, 10 other cars arrived. This won't be difficult for anyone in decent shape. Trail sneakers with good grip are fine, but you'd be wise to wear boots. Not for the grip but to protect your ankles. Lots of roots and rocks. I've posted a bunch of photos of the actual trails so you'll get an idea of what to expect.

My impression? I loved it. Worth every drop of sweat. We arrived to the lake just before 9 AM and there were already at least 50 people up there. Didn't feel crowded yet as the trail around the lake is just over a mile. If you want to swim, and you really should if the weather permits, go to the other side of the lake where access is better. Lots of large rocks and boulders where you can enjoy the view, and if you go higher up, you'll really get some peaceful time as most people don't bother climbing rocks. We spent good 3 hours up there before we headed back down.

It was crazy busy on the way down. Met good 200 people heading to the lake, with lots of people who seemed rather unprepared for the hike, wearing inappropriate shoes and carrying an 8 oz. bottle of water in their back pocket. When we arrived to the parking lot, there were cars waiting for a spot, and other cars parked by the side of the road. And yes, saw absolutely no bugs.

hiking
11 days ago

Got there at 8am and there was lots of parking. By the time we left at 1:15, the lot was full (and it was a Monday)!

Trail was in good condition. According to my friend I hike pretty fast so it took us about 1 hr 15 min to reach the top. Not a lot of bugs which was nice. Bring your bathing suit- it’s the perfect lake to hang out for a few hours and swim at. If you have the time, walk the path that goes all around the lake!

hiking
12 days ago

I do both lower and upper trail I like more the lower one batter view but what shack me is the huge water full hiding in the trail you will love it more of the lake

Yes, this trail is grueling- but I’m so glad I did it. It would be an amazing place to camp.

hiking
13 days ago

Huge potholes on the way to the trail head, take an SUV or truck if you have one, if not it will take forever and a half!

The hike up we lost the trail a couple of times. You wont get very far off trail though, keep an eye out for the plastic markers to stay on trail. Trekking poles are recommended, as they helped a ton!

The hike up is steep, so be mentally prepared. You’ll make your way up until you hit some logs laying down, go up and then you seem like you lose the trail. You can either go straight up, or take a right. Both will get you to where you’re going. Once you’re almost to the lake, you’ll come to a spot where you can go left or right, and on the right will be pink plastic bits tied to a tree branch, around eye level. GO RIGHT! Its approx. 1/4 a mile till the lake. Once you’re here though, put on your bug spray before you get to the water.

Once you go right, there’ll be some nice spots to see a pond and the moutains over yonder. You’ll keep going till you see purple wildflowers on the ground, and then you’ll see a pond. You’ll think this pretty thing of water is the lake, but keep going and you’ll reach the lake.

The pond has a pretty spot if you veer to the left to sit and eat some snacks for a minuet while looking at the trees and a small meadow! Once you’re done here, the lake is right around the corner. Its very rocky at the lake, but beautiful nontheless.

The hike down will feel like nothing. Its surprisingly easy going down than going up. The potholes going back to civilization are not any easier. You can’t win at everything!

hiking
13 days ago

Loved this hike . Parking was difficult.

backpacking
13 days ago

Very rewarding hike with a beautiful lake. Would recommend getting an early start on this one to beat the bugs and crowds later in the day. Camping is not allowed at Blanca Lake however there is plenty of camping spots at Virgin Lake.

hiking
13 days ago

4 Stars. About 3.5 hours round trip. Little rocky at a few switchbacks, but overall good tree cover most of the route.

Great easy hike! My 6 year old had no trouble going there and back and even we spent time "exploring" the edges of the ice caves for a few hours before heading back. No T-mobile cell service shortly after getting onto mountain loop highway. Our only complaint today were the aggressive flies near the end of trail near the ice caves.

hiking
13 days ago

So so beautiful! But definitely the hardest hike I’ve ever done. It seemed like we would never get there but we finally did! I would definitely say take PLENTY of water. I drank 4 bottles by myself.
Check the weather before you go. We went yesterday and the weather was perfect. I think like 70-72 the whole day. I can’t imagine doing that hike in hotter weather. It would be miserable. We forgot bug spray and the bugs didn’t bother us too bad. I don’t think i have bites at all. They were only a nuisance when we stopped to take a breather. We got there and started on the trail around 11:30-12. We got back at 7:50. So it was a very long day but totally worth it. Make sure you wear hiking boots, if you don’t have any make sure you wear tennis shoes with GOOD SOLES.

The worst part was the 2 mile walk back because
It felt like it would never end.

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