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Challenging (moderate/difficult) to Surprise Lake and a more moderate second half to Upper Cataract Lake. We left the TH at 6:30am, arrived at Upper Cataract shortly after 9:00am. We fished with small spinners and spoons and caught four brook trout. Great hike, we will be back to camp at Surprise Lake!

Beautiful views: mountain-backed lakes, harsh ridge lines, and wildflowers. Well-marked trail.

We hiked clockwise, three days, two nights -camped at Bettie Lake and Devil’s Thumb Lake, felt alone at both. Jasper Lake looked like a popular camping spot, and there was a site by the stream right before the off-shoot to Bob and Bettie Lakes if you don’t want to leave the loop. We were skinny-dipping at Devil’s Thumb and realized there was a lone fisherman across the lake getting a great show, haha, but otherwise, camping was very peaceful.

I was thankful for layers because it was really hot during the day, but surprisingly cold as soon as the sun dipped. We made Nalgene hot water bottles to supplement our 20* sleeping bags.

We hiked mid-week (Aug 8-10) and saw more hikers and trail-runners than backpackers. Some people struggling, but then also an older couple of women crushing it, and a Dad with two young kids. I’m a beginner with a heavy pack and ended each day smiling.

Brought my 35lb pup - she wore off her front pads chasing marmot in the rocks... which wouldn’t have been a problem if I had kept her on leash. She loved it. Didn’t see many (any?) dogs out towards the peak, but lots at the trailhead. Leash definitely required for the first bit.

Elevation is no joke, but plenty of places to refill water, so keep drinking!!

Side note: we stopped in Ned on the way home and ate at the Thai restaurant - killer $10 lunch deal!

Arrived at 5:15 am on Saturday and there were a lot of cars parked on the side of the road but still plenty of space. People can't seem to agree on which way to go- I decided to go counterclockwise and I'm very glad I did.

I have been up to Jasper Lake a couple of times but this is the first time I tried the loop. In my opinion the north side of the loop is more scenic. It's best to do it in the morning when the lighting is better and you still have energy. Also I like steep inclines more than steep declines as they're more exciting and less stressful on the knees. Saw a bull moose about halfway up to Jasper Lake. That was pretty terrifying as he was only 25 yards or so off of the trail hidden behind some trees. I snapped a quick picture and got out of there.

The trail is pretty easy. The distance is the hard part. I was feeling pretty haggard on the last 3-4 miles. Got back to the parking lot a little before 3PM. I probably could of finished at 2 if I hadn't of taken so many pictures.

Overall an awesome hike! My favorite one so far

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

backpacking
10 days ago

Many of the views are very beautiful. However, with all of the pine beetle kill, there are hundreds of downed trees that cover portions of the trail, particularly between the trails near the Cataract lakes in the north down to Boulder Lake. There is evidence that the Forest Service has tried to clear the trails by chainsawing out the dead pines that have fallen onto the trail(s), but they can't keep up with the blowdown.

There is plenty of water, and you never walk more than 2 or 3 miles between decent water sources.

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.

Absolutely breathtaking hike! There wasn’t a cloud in sight, and the trail wasn’t crowded. We encountered MAYBE a dozen people the whole day. Easily one of my favorite hikes. We hiked late Monday night to the campsite (set up camp around 9pm) and had a late start for the summit the next day. We starting hiking around 6:30am from the campsite on Tuesday, and hit the summit by 10:20. We definitely took our time on the way up. The most grueling part of the whole adventure is packing up your campsite and going back up and over Half Moon Pass. I was envious of the people who were staying another night before hiking out of the valley. I wouldn’t consider this a difficult hike in terms of terrain, but it’s certainly an emotional roller coaster when you remember that final 1000 ft just to leave. Road getting to trailhead is very well maintained.

This was a beautiful hike. I left the trailhead at 4:30 am and made it to the summit around 8:30. The trail is well maintained and well marked with cairns. Like everyone says, bring lots of water. Got back to the trailhead at 2:00 was a little slow coming down due to a strained knee. Weather was great all day. You can camp at the base of the summit but you can easily do a day hike. Recommend leaving trailhead early to avoid chance of afternoon weather. Great day!

backpacking
18 days ago

Spent 5 days at Upper Cataract lake. As others have said, the hike is not exactly easy but if I can do it it's not impossible (I was clocking a 40-50 minute mile). The lake is spectacular. Especially the side that has the shear cliffs. That side also has incredible fishing. Caught many brookies, browns, and hybrids.

Mirror lake, in my opinion, is okay but not nearly as nice as Upper Cataract. If you hike to Mirror lake be sure to cross the stream that runs out of Mirror lake even though you probably won't see the trail on the other side. Don't be tempted by the trail to your left unless you really, really like making your way over a very large boulder field. Don't ask me how I know.

Solid 8 hour hike at good pace. Demanding. Scrambling near the top. Very nice views from the summit. Save energy for the uphill portion on the way back, it can take 45mins - 1 hour. Would highly recommend an early start.

The last 1,000’ is a lot of rock and boulder hopping. Watch for your careens as the trail is hard to follow, especially going back down. It is tough but some amazing views.

I love running this trail. I prefer to do it clockwise. I did it Sat July 21st and started at 6AM. Once I passed the split I didn’t see another person until after the pass - it was a beautiful and peaceful 7 miles until I hit all the people coming up the other way.

Very popular trails with good reason. Plan to get there early or take the shuttle. I went twice this weekend and there are a surprising number of cars there by 6:30am. Lots of overnighters.
I ran the trail in each direction and would recommend going counterclockwise. Devils Thumb Pass is the high point, so the run along the ridge is more favorable if you tackle that first. The climb to the pass is steep, but makes a better climb than descent.
Beautiful flowers and birds are all around and the views and lakes are well worth the effort.

I did this as a 1 night backpacking trip and summited on the 4th of July. Weather was great. There was a short-lived afternoon shower in the evening on the 3rd, but nothing major. I camped at East Cross Creek with my dog. The campsites were amazing but the mosquitos/flies were horrible! We spent most of the afternoon/evening in the tent. We left at 5:45 am for the summit. It took us about 5 hours round trip to summit and return to the campsite. The views were gorgeous and it was fairly populated, so it didn’t seem like it would be easy to get lost on the final ascent/descent. The only negative was that past east cross creek there wasn’t any water for the next 5 miles of hiking. I ended up having to split my water with my dog. Next time I will plan accordingly!

Beautiful scenic trail! This was a rough hike through and through. We camped at the creek the first night then woke up at 5 to summit the next day. Took between 2-4 hours to summit for our whole group. There is really steep ascents/ descents once you get past the tree line. Especially the last quarter mile where you’re essentially rock climbing up. I thought about leaving my poles at the last carin on the ridge and I wish I would’ve. They got in the way on the way to the summit. This was my first 14er and it was tough, but I took my time and made it okay. It’s a hard hike for sure, just be prepared. I carried 3L of water up and only drank about half. Water at the creek is good, especially if you have a filter.

Many of these reviews suggest going a clockwise route and I would whole-heartedly agree. Look up King Lake Trail to Devil's Thumb Trail Loop reviews to read why.

Long and hard, but worth it. Camped at East Cross Creek. Woke up and hit the trail at 6:30am. Took me 4.5 hours to summit and 2.5 to come back down. Bouldering at the top is exhausting for the last 1/4 mile. Would highly recommend trekking poles to save your knees. Came back down and camped another night and hiked out the last three miles on the third day. Not my favorite 14er, but not the least favorite either.

hiking
29 days ago

We camped at Lake Constantine and did a day hike to the lower and upper Tuhare Lakes which was well worth the effort and time. The views were outstanding. There was thirteen of us from all over the country and this was a great place to hike with a group of this size.

backpacking
29 days ago

We hit the trail around 7:30pm and made Surprise lake just at dusk. Recommend starting earlier as the this section is pretty steep. Surprise is very pretty but the upper lake is pretty stunning.
However, busy season and there were campers everywhere. Campers clean up your toilet paper!
5 star beauty but busy, busy. Not a secluded mountain.
4 stars overall
Easy to hike the 5.7 miles out

This hike was INCREDIBLE! We camped at the trailhead Saturday night and took 11 hours to summit on Sunday, including a delicious hour-long respite at the top (and multiple breaks along the way). Started our hike just after 5 am and had the sunrise to warm us up on the first 1000 feet. Hiking poles were incredibly helpful with the 5600 feet of elevation gain. Layers, extra food and sugar, and tons of water are essential. We were 2 adults and a 40 pound dog and went through about 8 liters of water (though there is a lovely river valley about 2 hours in to the hike that allow for some filtration opportunities). Above treeline was very rocky, making for some sore knees and feet. Would highly recommend this hike, but not to first time 14er summiters, flatlanders, or those not in good shape.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing views will deff be back!!

Pro: Not much snow.
Con: It all turned to mud and high creeks.

So I'm thinking maybe there's a week in August where there's no snow, and no mud, or high water, before it starts snowing again, but I digress. This is a beautiful and amazing route, with gradual inclines until you get near High Lonesome, at which point it gets a tad steep. Once you're up top, there's a shoe-sized narrow single track trail through the tundra, and it's hard to believe they have a guy up there mowing the lawn but it looks like a giant putting green. I saw two marmots and a dude who was hiking the CT from Mexico and smelled like a garbage can. Okay but here's your warning. There's some exposure and snow over some rocks once you get to the beginning of the Devil's Thumb trail (don't try to sled down it you fool!). I used my hands to arrest any potential fall but it was a bit steep and scary. At the rocks just scramble down and you'll see the trail again, it's kind of hidden. After that there's a lot of loose rock/tripping roots for the rest of the way, with several stream crossings. Unless you mastered the long jump, prepare to get your feet soaking wet. There's no way around it. Then there are a few sections where there is friction-less mud, so watch your footing. Also there are spots where plants have overgrown the trail and disguise hazards, but that's their way of playing a trick on you! Anyway, it took me around 4 hours with stops etc because I took a bunch of pictures. I'd post them but it would spoil the beauty for you, so take your own pictures. Also the wildflowers are awesome right now.

Hard and up hill beautiful

One of the most beautiful trails I've been on in Colorado. Great views of the surrounding areas (and wildfires...). Also one of the most difficult trails I've completed. The up and down doesn't seem that bad until the final up. Little to no snow on the trail. BRING BUG SPRAY. Still feeling those mosquito bites.

7.1.2018 - Two day backpacking trip on the Devil's Thumb trail with a detour to Bob and Betty Lakes. Virtually no snow encountered but the winds were strong above treeline. Bonus: Fabulous flowers everywhere!

We completed over 1.5 days days by camping at the creek. Spots were available late afternoon on a Saturday. We left for summit at 4:20am on Sunday and had the top all to ourselves. Wildflowers are everywhere and the trail is in great shape. Loved it!

Parked off of mt Evans road and backpacked down to the lake - probably 3.5 or 4 miles? The route is not standard, but it is part of the “tour de Abyss”. Camped at the lake and hiked back out. Grueling, but much shorter than 23 miles RT.

June 23, 2018 Trip Report: Absolute beautiful weather for this hike. No storms, just amazing blue sky and warmish temps for an all day hike. I did the loop, King Lake first (clockwise) and then over the High Lonesome Trail down to Devil’s Thumb. Trail to King Lake is easy to moderate in my opinion. No snow left on the ground until right around 3 miles in from the King Lake trail split off (or 4 miles from trailhead), and then only small patches here and there. The snow was of no consequence once I did encounter it, so no trouble getting to King Lake. There was a bit of snow on the trail that leads you up to High Lonesome Trail junction, but again, not enough to keep you from getting where you want to go. Once up on the Continental Divide, it was extremely windy, but nonetheless, offered spectacular views and good easy trail conditions. If weather permits, take your time on this section and really soak up how awesome the landscape and views are, and count your blessings you get to experience such things. There was another patch of snow right before you begin your decent down the Devil’s Thumb trail to the lake. This patch is a bit tricky and requires the utmost of caution. The patch is only about 6 or 7 feet wide, so you are not on it long before hitting dry boulders to walk on. The trial down to the lake is steep, rocky and narrow. Poles would be nice if you have bad knees, or want to protect your knees! The only area of trouble I got in following the trail was between Devil’s Thumb lake and Jasper Lake. There was a large patch of snow on the trail amount some trees and I got off to the right following foot prints only to realize about a 1/4 mile in, that I had gone the wrong way. My instincts told me Jasper was to my left, but instead of bushwhacking it through forest, I turned around and back tracked to where I lost the actual trail. This little detour cost me an extra mile of hiking. Once at Jasper Lake, the trail down is easy to find and follow. Overall, I would say this entire loop hike is strenuous. I can see now that going counter-clockwise is the much harder way. Side Note: I called the Forest Service the day before for tail conditions, and they advised me to wait 2 more weeks before doing the loop. However once at King Lake, I saw so many people coming over from the Devil’s Thumb route, that I asked several people what the trail was like. Armed with their trail repots, I went for it. And was glad I did.
I logged a total of 19 miles for the day's hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Good stuff

Not your average 14'er. Settled in a very fragile environment in the valley where camping is permitted but No Fires year round. You will ascend a very good chunk of altitude and cross the flatter section before the initial climb to get to this brilliantly distinguished peak; you will have to regain this altitude on the return trip after a scramble - so bring a lot of water and decent amount of fuel for the stomach. The more you travel upwards the more indiscernible this trail gets. There's a reason that this mountain won't be 14,005 feet tall for very long - it's falling apart at a hastening rate so be respectful or do not come here! Church of the Holy Cross is visible from the peak on the opposite end of the bowl, as well as many well known mountains visually three hundred sixty degrees such at Mount Crested Butte,Ski Cooper, Copper, Aspen, and many more.

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