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This route is not dog friendly. It starts inside the national Park, there are signs everywhere Prohibiting you to take your dog past the gate. I’m sure it’s a nice hike, but I spent two hours getting here and now can’t take my dog and I don’t trust the app.

Absolutely gorgeous, went early and had the trail to ourselves. Wild flowers are in bloom and the waterfalls are flowing. Just amazing!

hiking
2 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike! While there are parts of the trail that are harder I'd say it was more moderate than hard. My fitbit recorded the hike at 7.98 miles (from trailhead to lake and back to trailhead) and it generally is less than my GPS records when I hike, so I'm not sure about the all trails site saying it's only 6.8 miles. We were hoping to see moose but only saw one deer the whole time. Lots of beautiful wildflowers, we will definitely do this one again!
Oh, and wear sunscreen, that higher elevation sun is no joke!

Spent one night at upper camp lake. 70% of the trail was dry and fast the other 30% was slow and muddy due to snow melt. Setup camp on the south side of the lake on the beach. Prefect spot to camp just takes a little longer to navigate without getting your lower half of your body soaked. Saw one bull moose and a couple of deer. The trout were very active most people we talked to caught plenty of trout for dinner. We had the lake to ourselves for camping. Saw 4 parties walking out when we were heading in.

backpacking
4 days ago

Just spent 2 nights up here. Gorgeous in every direction. Tons of wildflowers!! Lots of fun exploring around the basin, Snow Lake and Thunder Pass. Lots of traffic coming in when we left Friday. For more solitude do mid week. Didn’t see area mama moose and baby, but did see a herd of elk moving through at dawn.

backpacking
9 days ago

Most incredible hike! So beautiful in every direction. I can’t wait to do it again.

hiking
9 days ago

Day hiked the point-to-point CCW on 7/7/18, 9.5 hours total. Please read carefully:
1. The mileage is wrong! It's 16.5 miles point-to-point, or 18.5 miles if you walk the road between Roaring Fork TH and Monarch Lake TH.
2. Arrived at Monarch Lake at 7:15, lot was 80% full.
3. The first mile along the lake is nice, but the next 6.9 miles up to Gourd Lake are boring and not really photo-worthy.
4. Gourd Lake is pretty, but its best views are from beyond it, looking back down. Also, this is the most enjoyable portion of the loop, route finding up to Island Lake.
5. Island lake itself wasn't very photogenic though.
6. Took us 5.5 hrs to get to the [Cooper?] Pass, 9.9 miles in. That included snack and photo breaks.
7. The view West down into Hell Canyon, Upper and Stone Lakes, one of the BEST VIEWS I've seen in Colorado.
8. The descent was very steep, 1,200 feet over 0.5 miles! Took us almost an hour, and each of us was bloody by the end. Scree, boulders, and patches of meadow. No snow though.
9. The upper canyon and lakes area are superb. Wish we were camping overnight, would have stayed here. Side note, the other pass (north of Hiamovi Mountain) looks enticing for another occasion.
10. The 600 foot climb out of Hell Canyon was a little pesky after all we'd been through so far. Some good views though. Easy to lose the trail, tempting to aim low and left of where you should be, may have to backtrack.
11. The last 4 miles of Roaring Fork after the saddle feel like retribution. Again, not much to look at or enjoy.
12. Overall thoughts are that there were 5 miles of wonder, 11.5 miles of boring. And would strongly encourage going clock-wise unlike us. This puts Cooper Pass only 6.6 miles from TH (in case you turn back), and you'd ascend the steep rather than descend.

I was on a different loop, but started on this trail around mile 6 on this map. It was so steep at one part that we had to turn around. We had backpacking backpacks so it was also harder to go downhill at such a steep gradient. Would also note that there is a lot of bouldering and the river is hidden under the boulders at that point (mile 7 or so).

Amazing hike. I bit more challenging than anticipated, especially coming from sea level. Started 7:00am at the campground trailhead. Made it to the lake by 11:20am. Back to campground by 3:00pm. Bring lots of water and sunscreen. The Sun is very strong. Also, thunderstorms started moving in around 1:00pm.

We hiked to Willow Lake and then up to Upper Willow Lake today. Spectacular vistas and wildflowers and Bighorn Sheep were in abundance. It’s more than just a jumping point to 14ers.

backpacking
10 days ago

Did the loop ccw, camped in refrigerator gulch first night and hiked out the next day. Most of the raging streams in the past were dwindled down to a trickle if nothing flowing at all. Many bridge crossings were done walking over the dry creek bed. Still plenty of options to refill on water just not as many in previous years.

Saw pronghorn, and a couple moose.

hiking
12 days ago

As a 61 year old in not-the-greatest shape, it was truly a tough climb and descent. About 4 hours up and 2 1/2 down. But well worth the effort! Very nice occasional views as you climb, and when you get to the lake it is just stunning.
Recommend walking on trail to the left of the lake and around to the other end if you have time. The views just keep getting better. Did not attempt Challenger Point or the summit. Can only image what it all looks like from there.
Mosquitos were not a problem for us, though there were a few at the campground by the lake.
It hailed for about 45 minutes and got cold in a hurry, then let up for a while, then light rain on the way down. Rain shell and extra layers a huge plus.
No luck on the key and rings which I read about below. But if there's a way to PM me through this site, I could relay more specific directions to someone who is on the trail and at the Willow Lake campground very often.
Very happy we did this hike!!

backpacking
12 days ago

Took my 11yo niece up here for her first backpacking trip last weekend. Our Subaru Outback didn’t quite have enough clearance to make it to the TH so we found a campsite about 1 mile down from the TH and hiked up the road to the trail. Most of the cars at the TH are trucks and SUVs with big clearance. The hike to the lake is exactly 3 miles from the designated TH.

The trail was in good condition and there was a bit of mud up near the lake in the willows. Our night at the lake was fantastic, although super windy! It’s such a beautiful lake. The campsites are few (3-4 total) there’s not a lot of level ground. We used a bear canister for food and a jetboil stove.

I was bummed to see what looked like recently burned wood in the fire rings at the lake. Also, saw some abandoned fire rings on the hike out that were still smoking. Put it out people. Drown it in water!

backpacking
13 days ago

A moderately challenging hike with some steep sections. Beautiful views at the lake though!

hiking
13 days ago

Beautiful hike! The hike is very long, but not too strenuous. 3/4 of the hike is flat and only moderately steep at times. It also follows a beautiful stream! The last 1/4 is strenuous but the lake is worth it!

At the lake we hung out with some goats! They are docile and will run away if you go near them

We hiked Deluge a few days earlier and found Deluge to be more difficult (even though it is shorter)

The trail length is off. From 4 wheel drive lot, it is closer to 10 miles round trip

I did this the last week of June. The snow is all gone! I'd recommend waterproof boots as you'll have 2 river crossings as well as a couple streams. Also, every now and then you'll run into mud. The trail is mellow for awhile, then you hit the last stretch to the top and that'll be a tough ascent (going to island lake). One last thing, there is a fire ban in effect so double check if it's still in place before you go out!

The sign at the trailhead says it's a 14.2 mile trip

backpacking
15 days ago

Backpacked 2.5 in set up camp at the first campsite. Went on headed toward the lake and .3 mi from camp I encountered a large black bear. He was as startled as I was and ran off to the north. I headed back to camp and packed up and left. I did see a mother weasel carrying her baby and a whitetail buck on the return trip.

Amazing views on the way! We started very late about 5 pm and went to the falls first started to trail from the falls around 6 pm and went uphill for about another 2 hrs and turn around at 8 pm. We didn’t finish the trail but my gps told me we went about 3.4 miles so we were about 1.2 mile short of finishing the trial. It’s totally doable and worth it. Amazing views of sunset and the valley

This hike is amazing! Definitely was expecting it to be way harder than it was. Biggest incline is probably from Michigan to Snow Lake, but it’s a super quick scramble and worth it. Snow Lake was still probably 1/4 covered in snow and ice, but trail was clear! Saw no moose, but a lot of people I passed had seen a huge one and a momma and her baby. Sooo beautiful. Great one for backpacking

camping
16 days ago

Wonderful, beautiful hike and well maintained trail. Concur with everone else that its about 5 miles up to the lake. We did this with a 10 and 12 year old with full packs and took us a little over 5 hours to get up. Lots of stops. Bear is still there and very persistent. At the campsite by the lake it's there every evening and followed us down to a campsite about 0.5 miles below the lake. It is very stubborn and persistent. Not aggressive toward people, just wants your food. You must hang everything, between trees and 10 feet up is the best.

Well maintained and challenging trail with great rewards. Lots of wildflowers and wildlife. If camping, definitely bring a bear canister or plan to bear bag it, as there is at least one bear who is playing the part of lingering camp host. Willow Lake is a gem and my sore muscles and feet loved the icy water. Unfortunately, my wife left her wedding rings on a tree branch at camp (first campsite on left, in site below the lake) when applying sunscreen before the long haul down. We discovered this once back at the car. Any help or info would be greatly appreciated.
UPDATE - My wife’s wedding rings were located and are in the process of being returned by the friendly rangers. Thanks for everyone’s help!

hiking
17 days ago

Gorgeous wildflowers right now. Snow lake is amazing as it has some ice still remaining.

hiking
17 days ago

My partner and I are two reasonably in shape folks from Ohio. We did the climb to the lake in about 3 hours, spent about an hour hanging out and a 2 hour descent. It was challenging, but very worth it.

Insanely beautiful. Felt very wild. I would agree that this is very strenuous, but if you take your time it's fine. Heres a video of my trip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zezQ7E2FbA

hiking
19 days ago

So to add more info about the trail length; my garmin watch had me at 2.7 miles from the trailhead to the lake. I'm guessing the distance of 7.5 includes the walk from the campground if you don't have 4WD. And you turn right just before the campground, not left. That is where the bumpy road begins. So many species of flowers, though it's definitely dry, so I don't know how long they will last; delphiniums, columbine, waterleaf, paint brush, jacob's ladder, chiming bells, globe flower, penstemons, violets, primroses, moss campion, valerian, kings crown, golden rod, aster, milk vetch, marsh marigold, Elephant's head.....

This hike is moderately difficult but STEEP once you're about a third of the way up. These mountains are powerful and the San Luis Valley can create some wild weather, so don't forget to keep your eye to the west once in awhile (the view is worth it!). When we attempted this hike during early June of 2016, there was still plenty of snow remaining on the last third of the trail, causing us to miss part of the trail that went south at a creek crossing; we instead entertained ourselves with a fairly large boulder field and eventually met back up with the trail. You're getting right up underneath some amazing, high peaks once at South Zapata Lake. Love this section of mountain ranges for the magic it still has in it!

backpacking
19 days ago

I went up for a short overnight, and the trail was beautiful! We camped at Cirque. We lost the trail a little on the way up to emmaline, but there are cairns marking the way. You shouldn't have to go over any snowfields. some muddy/wet spots but for the most part you can get around them.

We got to the meadow camping area in 1.5 hours at a decent pace. there is little elevation gain here, most of it is all in the second half of the hike.

hiking
20 days ago

At the beginning of the hike make a stop at the creek and take some pictures. The trail is steep at times and then flat, so it is good for recreational hikers. Pretty meadows and forests of aspens and of course great views. We hiked in about 1 hour and found the stream again and it was fun to watch the water rush by so quickly. We had a picnic on boulders and returned to the trail head in 1/2 hour. Great hike, I enjoyed it more than Booth Falls, which was LONG.

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