Explore Sawatch, Leadville Area - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Sawatch, Leadville Area Map
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hiking
2 months 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.

Wonderful trail that’s just wild enough to be challenging! Great views the whole way up to the lake and a great lake it is! Access road is dirt and is probably not well suited for late season travel unless you have a good overlander

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.

Pretty easy hike for a 14er until you get to the saddle, then it gets a little technical. We went really slow with this one for a total of 10 hours. Started at 630 and was off the mountain still in plenty of time. If you get a nice weather day in the fall I would highly recommend, the Aspen trees were some of the most beautiful I've seen. Of the 12 14ers I have hiked, this was one is up there as far as a good hike and beautiful views. Enjoy!

hiking
3 months ago

Wow. Today was one of those rare occurrences where parking wasn't really an issue. We arrived at the trailhead at about 11:30 a.m. and had our choice of parking spots. This is a great trail. There weren't too many people. However, I would say that it is a popular local and visitor trail. I saw lots of people without any gear just going for a short jaunt. You can backpack this trail and do a big loop with adjoining trails in the area. There were piles of gold everywhere on the forest floor. The Aspens were shimmering with every breeze and this glorious sunny fall day. There was a little rock scrambling to be head, boggy spots to maneuver through with care, and a Pixy land of overgrown ferns within huge stands of Aspen groves. One could easily loose the trail if not paying attention. The lakes along the way are really little ponds, but the entire hike has great vistas and ambiance. There are house sized, moss covered boulders, stone stair steps to climb (careful! they are steep) and a great creek crossing. The hike is about 5.2 miles. Moderate is a good rating. My 10 and 7 year old did it no problem. Keep eyes peeled. This is mountain lion, bear and Squatch country.

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike to Fancy Lake today-9/19/18. We didn’t start til noon. Fairly easy climb. Lots of good switchbacks. Thank you trail groomers! This lake is stunningly beautiful! Next time we’ll hike on through to Missouri Lake.

off road driving
4 months ago

Very Rocky trail. Stock Rubicon handled it slowly but beautifully. Nice trail through the woods, and decent hike around lake. Very secluded, we didn't meet anyone on this trail. Decent scenery.

Easy hike. Make sure when you see the secondary trail spurs you venture out, usually 20 yards. Great views from these advantage points.

Fun hike. Smooth, great country.

A very pleasant, varied, interesting and scenic hike. There are a couple of very short spurs (one at about .8 mi and another at about 2 mi in) which were real highlights for me as they afforded lovely views over the creek.

We enjoyed this trail. It continues on beyond the lake (it is a 14 mile trail) so we decided on a longer hike. We went out to mile 6 in the area of the intersection of the Grouse Mountain Trail/Martin Creek Trail. Beautiful vistas out there. The big elevation gains are after mile 8 so it was a very pleasant hike out to mile 6 and back. The trail is well maintained and is often shaded as we hiked along rock formations among the pines and aspen.

This is a great hike! Nice bridge over the water makes for great photo opportunity. We hiked to Surprise Lake and found it a little longer the the 4.9 mile total. Also, road is open all the way up to trailhead.

Got park area at 5.20 AM and leaving at 5.40 with my wife.Pretty cold 30 degrees. Trail start easy, with easy crossing of two streams. The sunrise from Mosquito was stunning with forest start to live. The trail goes up alert 3 miles ,well marked with some steep sections to the saddle at the ridge. Wonderful views all around . The trail remain easy to follow on the ridge paying some attention. Two mountain goats in sight! Passed the false summit quickly we reach the top. Stunning views, even with the smoke from wildfires. Because the nice weather we stay on top for 45 minutes. Back to the car at 15.05 PM. Wonderful hike, strenuous but it worth. We did almost 14 peaks, but this is one of the best at all. We never forget

If anyone has any info or advice for my post below please contact me at keastonh@gmail.com Thanks!

***HELP! I left my camera int he trialhead parking lot..My friend and I climbed Mt Massive on Thursday and returned to the car Friday around 11pm..I vividly remember setting it on the tire of my van prior to leaving. The camera is a canon g7x, it could be ran over but I'm hoping the sd card is still intact...I am happy to pay a finders fee to anyone generous to send it to me if they have it..Thanks.

Got to the trailhead just before 7pm Thurs night with my buddy and hiked up to treeline. Used headlamps until we found a good spot to camp, and hit the hay by 10pm. We got up later than we had planned around 5:45am, and made our way to the summit. This was my 10th 14er, and the mileage was no joke. The hike from this route seemingly goes on forever after you get above treeline. Enjoy the walk thru the woods early on, because the hike doesn't really start till 11,800. Stay to the left as you ascend the ridge to avoid going too low, and making for a more difficult climb. Amazing views from the summit. Made it back down to camp around noon, and then made the endless descent thru the woods to the car. All in all I imagine this route was more scenic than others, but much, much, longer. We were glad we camped the night before, as this would have been a lot of mileage for a top to bottom trip.

Great trail, worth going through the thick ferns to get to the lake!

Left at 7am from Halfmoon trailhead aiming at ascent via SE ridge as described in Roach book. Did not find the side trail at 10,600’ mentioned in other posts but ascent through the sparse pine forest was straightforward. Reached tree line at 11,800’, great views from there, ridge line easy to follow. Did not meet a single hiker until rejoining the main trail below the summit.

SE ridge is an awesome alternative for those who like hiking off the beaten path. The ascent requires more effort due to the lack of trail and some up and down along the ridge (about 1000’ extra vertical in all). There is no water along this route so bring plenty.

camping
5 months ago

First off, if you plan on driving the road...it is rough. I'd really recommend high clearance. We did it in a Tacoma with added suspension 4X4 and it was still pretty slow going as the road is very rocky, very narrow and steep in places.

That being said, the lake is gorgeous and you can hike the road if you don't want to drive it. This is probably what we'd do next time. We hauled our stuff in and camped at the lake. Most of the other groups camped by their cars at the top of the road, so you can do that as well.

There was a lot of broken glass where groups had camped by the lake, which was a bummer, especially having so many dogs around. We tried to clean up what we saw, but it some places it looked like people were actually shooting glass bottles, so be careful when walking around!

All-in-all a nice lake...very pretty, but for those seeking a bit more solitude, I'd go elsewhere--since you are able to drive to the top there were a lot of big groups, ton of off-leash dogs, etc. But if you want somewhere to bring a paddle board, pack raft, with the family that isn't an off-the-highway kind of place, this lake is the place!

Great hike yesterday. 4AM start. Two goats at the top. No clouds or wind. I think they should resurrect that pile of rocks on the top to make it higher than Elbert again!

Maybe my new favorite 14er. Really gorgeous, especially for a 14er. Not as much traffic as a lot of popular peaks either. Highly recommend early start, if for no other reason so you can see the sun rise above the Mosquito Range to the East. Also recommend a camp at Elbert Creek Campground the night before. Top notch campsites and just around the corner. And folks, please: STOP starting 14er climbs too late in the morning. Lightning is a real threat with late starts so get on the trail early.

We hiked this se trail on our descent after hiking up the steeper sw trail.
This trail was a dream.

I live this hike. I don’t remember it being very difficult.

Great trail along creek, then up to views, then to ponds. Last bit of trail overgrown with mostly ferns. Easy to follow. Pond level down since it’s August. Overlooks and creek are fantastic on sunny day. Nice view of vail and holy cross. Creek refreshing stop along the way.

Loved it. First fourteener and I liked the long approach, seemed a steady incline. With beautiful alpine meadow views. Brought the dogs and they did great, water on the ct section. Only at the scramble portion at the very top did I feel the need to keep them out of people’s way for safety.

Excellent hike that takes you through pine forest, sub-alpine shrubs, and an amazing ascent up the massive granite field (which is full of marmots and pikas). Views are phenomenal, especially at the very top. Bring lots of water and food to stay energized.

We were planning to make the Halo Ridge traverse over to summit Mount of the Holy Cross, but the weather came in hard and fast at noon.

The notch mountain trail is beautiful. The switchbacks Offer gorgeous views and the lakes and valleys below. The shelter up top perfectly frames Mount of the Holy Cross in the window.

Next time, we’ll get an earlier start and make the Halo Ridge traverse.

hiking
5 months ago

There is just one "Fancy Lake." The trail to it is about 2.6 miles with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. (The contours on these maps are confusing because the contour interval is 10 meters (about 33 feet) whereas every fifth contour is labelled with the elevation in feet.) The first 1.5 mile passes through pine forest before some meadows with wildflowers start to appear. This part is moderately difficult.

The trail from the lake to Fancy Pass gains about 870 feet in 0.7 mile, of which the last half is especially steep and difficult. In particular, it is easy to miss where the trail jogs to the right, and climb up a natural rock chute that was used for dropping mine tailings to a lower elevation. The trail is difficult enough, but the mining chute still has loose tailings in it and is worse. It is hard to appreciate the scenery while focusing on your footing, but as others have said, the view from the pass -- particularly to the north down the valley of Cross Creek -- is spectacular.

Most people who get to Fancy Pass continue to Missouri Pass and return to the trailhead by way of the Missouri Lakes Trail, which starts at the same parking area. I think that that route has better alpine scenery with less extremely difficult trail conditions than the Fancy Pass Trail described here.

Very tame trail up until the end. Slightly rocky near the top(predictably). The trail split is very well marked and it’s easy to tell where to go without any kind of map. The view was great. I wouldn’t say it is as challenging/rewarding as Elbert but that’s why you hit both while you’re in Leadville

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