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hiking
4 hours ago

Awsome extremely exhausting hike for someone not used to this altitude. We are from sea level. This trail kicked out butt, but is was well worth it. Beautiful views all the way up. Took 3 hrs to get to the lake. Just over 3000 elevation gain. Our most ever. Well worth it.

Beautiful hike!! It was long and got rough near the end, but the lake and cirque views are worth it!

hiking
1 day ago

Date: 9/22/18, 7:30am-1:30pm
Conditions: Sunny, clear, temps 40-65F
Parking:
Adequate dirt, roadside parking at trailhead. More parking available up the hill. Watch for bicyclists coming down when leaving.
Trail:
While rated as hard, overall the trail is fairly moderate. There is a steep section at the start and a long climb to the lake, but the majority of the trail is a series of short climbs, downhills and flats. The trail carves through a variety of terrain, remaining mostly well-shaded throughout. Following Gore Creek, there are some small waterfalls and water access points along the route. Once you hit the marked graves of the Recen brothers, take a minute to fuel up and shed layers as the climb to the lake begins. The best views, aside from the lake, come from the open meadows on this final climb. Gore Lake itself is a breathtaking large green body at the feet of Snow Peak, Willow Peak, and Red Peak. There is a trail around the entire lake if you have energy remaining. As others have noted, this looks to be a great place to spend a few nights camping. I'll be back!
PSA:
Upon reaching the lake, I noticed an illegal campfire left burning and was forced to throw the large, smoldering logs into the water to put it out. Please abide by fire bans and Wilderness regulations posted at the trailhead.

hiking
1 day ago

Dont be fooled this hike is HARD! However the views and scenery on this trail are just gorgeous! As many others here have already written this would be AMAZING as an over night.. possibly 2 nights if you can! There is just soo much beauty up there to bask in! If you are planning on trying this as a day hike then you need to start early! If you park on one trail head and come out at another there is an additional 2 miles of dirt road you will hike. The total mileage of the loop is 18-20 miles. As a day trip this took me a little over 10 hours.

Beautiful trail in the fall, even if you just go to Independence Lake.

fantastic 2 night backpacking trip. lots of beautiful campsites along the way. amazing granite crumbling peaks. GORGEOUS

Amazing hike. Did it as a very long day hike, took ~9 hours. Didn’t see any other hikers except for on the out-and back to the Causeway. Saw a couple friendly bow hunter groups on horseback. Amazing weather, mid-Sept is a great time of year to explore this area as the aspens have started to turn. A bit tricky to follow the trail along the Chinese wall, you’ll lose it and find it again if you stay in the general direction.

We backpacked this loop counter clockwise for Labor day weekend in 2018, camping at the Twin Crater Lakes on the first night and Camp Lake on the second night.

Beautiful area -- lots of water, with many stream crossings that used logs or stones to get across w/o getting wet.

Because we went in September we saw almost no flies and zero mosquitos. There was plenty of water to filter to drink (creeks, lakes, ponds) but it wasn't marshy with a ton of mosquitos. We saw 5 moose, stunning views of meadows and mountain lakes, amazing stars at night.

The Twin Crater lakes were too high (about 11000 feet) and shallow for fish. We didn't see any fish at Camp Lake, but other backpackers said they caught many fish in the Raway Lakes.

The parking lot at the West Branch Trailhead was full Saturday at noon on Labor day weekend, but people can park along the wide dirt road next to the parking lot, so that was not an issue.

Good trail. Did this for my first backpacking trip and had a great time. Being from the Midwest, it took me some time to adjust to the altitude, which made the hike a bit more difficult than I thought it would be. The first 1.5 miles on the Salmon Lake trail is grueling, particularly after we had hiked close to 8 miles before (we did a portion of the Rock Creek trail in the morning). Found a few great campsites toward the top with views of distant peaks and closer ones. Great for the sunset and sunrise. We even had a moose walk through our campsite. The views at the top are breathtaking and well worth the hike.

There is a point about mile 5 where you are walking in a blown out area filled with dead and fallen trees. The trail remained very clear (had to climb over a few) but I would be wary of doing this section on a windy day for fear of falling trees.

In all, a great experience.

backpacking
9 days ago

Unique trip! My fiancé, dog, and I backpacked to the open space near the summit and camped there. We hiked through the night and arrived around 12 AM. Finished the remaining mile in the morning before heading back down. Definitely worth spending a few hours up top exploring all of the boulders. Bring water, the stream is only available for the first 2 miles or so.

Up to Cirque Meadows is very easy. The aspens are changed, making much of the path very colourful.
We were confused at first about the marked campsites which are farther up the trail past the meadow-the sites were nice, site 3 has a good view.
The rest of the way was tougher, and some places we lost the trail as it wound up the boulders.
The end views are breathtaking, and great photo opportunities. I plan on going again in June when the wildflowers are bloomed.

Did shorter 20.1 mile loop - in a 3 day/2 night trip.
- Day/Night 1: Parking -> West Branch -> Rawah -> Twin Crater Lakes (hiked up to but camped below lakes) ~6.6 miles
- Day/Night 2: Twin Crater Lakes -> Rawah -> Sandbar Lakes -> Camp Lake Trail (skip Upper Camp Lake Trail, sleep @ 2nd intersect of Camp Lake x Camp Lake Ditch Loop trails ~6.9 miles
- Day 3: Camp Lake -> West Branch -> Parking ~6.6 miles

Highlights!: Excellent clean (spring fed?) creeks at each camp site, even in Sept. West Branch -> Rawah Trail very pretty w/ aspen trees, everything from Twin Crater Lakes, Grassy Pass, to Rawah Lake 3 was superb eye candy, love the sweeping ridge views & alpine lakes. Heard wolves (?) and elk on Night 1 and saw a BIG moose on Night 2!!

Meh: Camp Lake Trail was very muddy & brushy near the lake, even in Sept - best to wear pants and waterproof shoes! Lots more standing dead pine on the Camp Lake side of the trail.

Crowds: Saw under a dozen people per day - day hikers, backpackers, some fishing and hunting. 2 other groups camping at Twin Crater Lakes, 1 at our 2nd camp.

Map Note: National Geographic's map for this area is missing Camp Lake Ditch Loop trail, I don't think those intersections are marked, and while it shows more creeks than All Trails, not all creeks on that map were running mid-Sept, so we were confused about where we were by the end of Day 2.

hiking
9 days ago

Beautiful trail with a stream the whole way up. Fall colors are about at their peak. Loved the variety of terrain and scenery plus a nice challenge with some steep areas and decent elevation gain. Only saw 2 groups of people coming down when I was heading up on a Saturday afternoon. Spent 30mins up at the lake with absolutely no one else around. Saw a huge bull moose just about 30ft away on the way down. Will be adding this to my repeat list.

Beautiful scenery, very diverse (meadows, forest, open space above tree line with amazing views, stunning lake), trail well maintained. Would highly recommend and would do it again! One thing I would like to add is that the mileage seems a bit off. I measured about 8 miles out and back.

hiking
12 days ago

Loved this hike. Started at Lost Msbn TH and walked up to what might be described as the head of the valley about halfway before turning back. Pity this 'loop' trail doesn't end back at he same spot. A real walkers hike rather than a climb at least for the part I did. Super views and open all the way. Saw one person on the way back in the afternoon, a hunter looking for deer. Hope he didn't find any.

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful trail and only saw two other people!

Hiked this clockwise Sept 2018. Departed at 4 PM on day 1 and hiked in 5 miles (West Branch Trail to Rawah Trail) and camped near the intersection of Rawah Trail & Twin Crater Lakes Trail. Day 2 we hiked up to Twin Crater Lakes, then followed Rawah Trail to Sandbar Lakes Trail. My trail companion fished in Upper Sandbar Lake (she caught 3 fish) then we camped by Camp Lake. Our campsite was visited by a huge bull moose around dinner time. Day 3 we hiked out via the Camp Lake Trail / West Branch Trail.

Views on the Rawah Trail were terrific. Each day felt different and highly recommend.

We used the book and map by Raymond Ave entitled "Backcountry Adventure Guide to Colorado's Rawah Wilderness"

on American Lakes Trail

hiking
17 days ago

Hiked today and was impressed with the views...then we saw the moose on the trail. Incredible! Just hike up to Snow Lake...you won’t regret it. Maybe 15-20 people in the 10 miles we hiked.

hiking
17 days ago

A little bit of everything! Aspens, pines, water, and big views. We were first people in the lot at 630. The aspens are starting to turn and there was frost on the ground cover. 4.5 hours round trip for us with lot of stops for pictures

hiking
17 days ago

Outstanding! Ideal for backpacking in to camp at the end of the trail before it gives way to trails to Thunder Pass and Snow Lake. Could hike to Thunder Pass one day and Snow Lake another, or crush them both in one day!

hiking
21 days ago

Stunning the whole way!

hiking
21 days ago

Hiked August 28. 5.1 miles up to the lake and 5.1 miles down according to my garmin. First 1.5 miles of switchbacks are steep and sandy but doable. Clear trail all the way. Great mountain lake and waterfall. Saw woodpeckers, picas, marmots and a bighorn sheep.

backpacking
21 days ago

Stunning, but tough. My wife and I (both 56, from Atlanta) and our 20-something kids from Denver did the loop over Labor Day weekend. Thankfully, we had the chance to acclimate ahead of time with some long hikes at altitude. We did the 28-mile Lost Creek Loop in three days and went counter-clockwise, which I would highly recommend. First day includes a big climb, with a payoff of spectacular views. We camped a little more than 10 miles in at McCurdy Park, which offers beautiful campsites in a meadow setting with good access to water. Day two starts out pretty easy and includes the really unique and beautiful Refrigerator Gulch. Coming up and out of the gulch though is a butt-kicker, with a 1,000 foot climb in just over a mile. We did another roughly 10 miles day-two and camped in a great spot in the woods along a stream, just before the intersection of the Wigwam Trail. Day three was an easy, and much faster, 8-mile walk to complete the loop. Milkshakes at the Sonic in Conifer, on the way back to Denver, capped a really wonderful long weekend!

Great loop. We hiked counter clockwise and it is definitely easier. I agree with others that the loop is 30 miles according to GPS. Refrigerator gulch is a good place to camp. We saw a moose and other wildlife along the way. Next time I will do it clockwise for the bragging rights, I feel like I cheated going CC.

amazing view long hike and I hike it Counter clockwise is the best and easy way out

hiking
22 days ago

Incredible hike!!!! A must do. Took my sister and I 5.5 hrs round trip (we're in our late twenties and fairly athletic/experienced hikers) and we clocked it at more like 13.75 miles to the lake and back! We hit the trail around 6:30am and had the lake to ourselves, although we saw quite a bit of traffic on our way down. Definitely have to come back and camp up there, it was absolutely stunning.

hiking
22 days ago

What a great hike! 6 Moose and some deer along the trail. Lots of wild flowers and enough of a distance and elevation gain for a good workout. The lakes at the top were amazing. Quite a few campers staying over night by the lakes. Trail is very rocky in several places, but easy to follow with so many different views from thick forest, open meadows to hill top scenery.

Great hike, you get a little bit of everything. Some solid uphills on the way up thru trees on dirt, up in some rocky areas, and then some tundra-ish marsh to a pretty cool lake. Fantastic views the whole way up. GPS is going to vary, funny watching people post the various distances. I got 4.7 one way on mine. Wasn't terribly difficult. Hour and a half up, hour down. As every hike, moderate and difficult is going to be a personal judgement. Its around 3-3200 ft elevation gain up in somewhere between 4.5-6 miles. If that seems hard for you, its going to be hard. If that seems like a day in the park, you'll breeze through! I thought the actual hike was more enjoyable than the destination, but that's just me. Not that the lake was a disappointment by any means. Lots of marmots prowling around the path leading up to the lake. I went and it was sunny - a little overcast, very enjoyable day on the trail. Well worth the time to check out, even if you don't go all the way. The falls are also pretty cool. Little rock hopping thru a very short slot canyon. If you don't have good balance, you may want to wait until after the hike in case your feet get wet, or bring some grippy water shoes.

hiking
24 days ago

Great hike. Nice mix of hiking terrain: some soft padded Forest floor in the forest, some rock scrambling, some open terrain with nice views.
Did not make it to the lake - hopefully another time

24 days ago

INCREDIBLE! So so beautiful, especially if you start early to get the sunrise and early morning light on the mountains on the way up. Also, you may get lucky like us and get the lake all to yourself! Lots of folks were coming up on our way down.

This hike wasn’t as strenuous as anticipated, BUT it’s long. It’s definitely not 11.3miles. It’s 14. It was steeper right at the beginning and the end, but not bad at all. Mostly moderate. It was 3hrs up and 2.5 down for us at a moderate pace. For reference we live in Boulder and hike frequently.

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