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    Kris Eich reviewed Lower Sand Creek Lake Trail

    2 months ago

    Hiked this trail Aug 11. Our app recorded 6.2 miles RT from the upper parking lot/TH. It takes about 45 min-1 hr to drive to the TH from Westcliffe. You definitely need a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to drive the last 3 miles of the road to get to the upper parking lot and to get out of your parking spot (HA!) (we had to tow someone out of their spot because they were stuck). There is room for about 20-25 vehicles at the upper lot, and another parking area about a minute down the road. The lot was mostly full by 9am, and this is the busiest TH we've seen in the Westcliffe area. A bathroom is at the lower TH.
    It is a typical CO trail and not anything too extreme or rugged. We had gorgeous weather and it was beautiful, varying scenery. Saw about a dozen ptarmigan. Also saw 4 horses along the trail, and some horse poop. Some remnants of wildflowers, but mostly dried out. No mosquitoes. Lots of views from Music Pass and neat bristlecone pines around the pass. The view of pointy Tijeras Peak was our favorite, and it also happens to be the backdrop of Lower Sand Creek Lake--just gorgeous! Some backcountry camping sites at the lake and good fishing! Many trout were swimming around as we ate lunch at the lake. Note: You do hike up in elevation and down and up again to get to the lake and then reverse to get back to the TH, so it can make for some "hot" climbing back up to Music Pass in the afternoon on your way back to the TH.

    The above, posted directions for this trail are wrong. Here are the correct ones:
    -Drive south on Hwy 69 for 4.6 miles
    -Turn right on CR 119 (Colfax Ln) and drive south for 6 miles to a T intersection
    -Turn left on CR 120
    -After 0.2 mi, the road makes a sharp right and becomes CR 119
    -Continue 5 miles to lower Music Pass TH
    -Road (now 4WD) continues for another 2.5 miles and ends at upper Music Pass TH

    Kris Eich completed Lower Sand Creek Lake Trail

    2 months ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Bear Lake via Colorado Trail

    2 months ago

    Nice lake but nothing spectacular--consider it an average Colorado hike. We actually did this hike on July 21 from a different TH, which you can get to by taking the FR107 (high-clearance 4WD road) north of Lake County Rd 9. My review is for that TH. By going from that TH, it cut the total distance of the hike in half to about 3 miles RT with about 400 feet elevation gain--this was the perfect distance for our 3-year old. But going this way, you do have to hike uphill on the way back, which is not ideal for young children. The trail goes by the Continental Divide Trail and you hike mostly on the Colorado Trail. We had to climb through a few rock fields and over some boulders to get around to part of the lake, but nothing unmanageable or scary. We saw chipmunks, squirrels, wildflowers, and only a handful of people, most of which came up from the Timberline Lake TH. Mosquitoes were around a little bit throughout the trail and were the worst at the TH. With our leisurely pace and lunch break at the lake, it took us about 3 1/2 hours total. The TH isn't too far from the Leadville Fish Hatchery, so that was a big after-hike hit with our boys.

    Kris Eich reviewed Horn Creek to Horn Lakes

    2 months ago

    The roads to the TH are mostly paved followed by a short section of an easy dirt road.
    Although this area is beautiful, I'm only giving it 3 stars because my friend and I lost the trail. We hiked it on July 29. Our guidebook ("Hiking Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Wilderness" Falcon Guide) had incorrect directions--the correct directions are to go right at the Rainbow Trail and then left on the Horn Lakes Trail. So with the extra detour of going the wrong direction at the beginning, this hike didn't start off well. There is a bathroom at the TH. Only a few downed trees on the trail, lots of wildflowers, and even wild strawberries that were quite yummy! Complete solitude--we only saw 2 other hikers on this trail the entire time. AROUND TREELINE, THERE IS A SECOND CREEK CROSSING--MAKE SURE YOU GO RIGHT AND CROSS THE CREEK! We went the wrong way and continued straight ahead on the well-worn trail that ended at a pond in the beautiful basin. We should have turned around and backtracked, but we thought the trail was overgrown (like some others in the area) and thought we'd soon find the lakes. No such luck! We bushwacked for 1 1/2 hours through thick bushes, mud, and what must have been game trails with lots of (bear?) poop, and we finally gave up when we figured out we were on the opposite side of the basin where the lakes were and it was time to head down.

    Kris Eich completed Horn Creek to Horn Lakes

    2 months ago

    Kris Eich followed Sarah Hoobler

    2 months ago

    Kris Eich completed West Spanish Peak Trail

    2 months ago

    Kris Eich reviewed West Spanish Peak Trail

    2 months ago

    My husband climbed West Spanish Peak July 28; he started at 6am and reached the summit by 9am. Approx the first 3 miles (which took us ~90 min) were a nice, gradual climb on a good, often wide trail alternating between woods and meadows with views of the West Spanish Peak. Once reaching the rocky base of the climb at treeline, the trail immediately got down to business, climbing nearly 2,000 feet in elevation in the last 1 - 1 1/2 miles. While the first part could be rated easy, the rocky and steep climb was definitely moderate+ for an average hiker. From this point, it was another 90 min to the summit. The trail is rocky and hard to follow in spots, but aim upward and look for the many cairns. At the summit, there are great views of the natural dikes below and nearby East Spanish Peak. Spent 90 min at the summit and was back to the TH by 1pm (this included lots of stops to chat with folks). There is a nice campground with a clean restroom at the TH if you want to spend the night before there.

    Kris Eich reviewed Zapata Falls Trail

    2 months ago

    Did this trail on Aug 5. Took us about 1 hr and 45 min total with young children. There's a bathroom at the TH, and about 18-20 parking spots in the main lot plus a lot more along the road and in another parking lot plus a picnic area with its own parking lot. There are a lot of benches along the way up the trail. It is a "hot" trail with not much real shade, mostly consisting of short trees, shrubs, and cactuses. Nice views of the sand dunes and the Sangre de Cristo Mtns including the Crestone Needles. Bring water shoes and a small towel--it was definitely nice to have warm, dry socks and shoes to slip back into after walking in the ICY, numbing water! The water level was about ankle deep in most places. Fun, but our young boys didn't enjoy getting their feet so cold. The falls with the cave were definitely neat!

    Kris Eich completed Zapata Falls Trail

    2 months ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Bluebird Lake Trail

    3 months ago

    GORGEOUS! One of our top 10 favorite hikes that we've ever done! Amazingly beautiful trail and offers a little bit of everything: cascades, waterfalls, wildflowers, neat dead trees, views, wildlife, and lake! We hiked this trail on Saturday, July 14. We made it to the parking lot by 6:15am and it was full by about 7:30am that day although that didn't keep the crowds away. Many folks parked down the road and added a few miles to their hike. This hike is actually a total of 12.8 miles according to the national park sign. The trail starts as an easy one. There are neat rapids and waterfalls towards the beginning. You will encounter LOTS of people up to Ouzel Falls but after that, you won't see as many. There is a rustic "privy" pit toilet just beyond Calypso Cascades a few miles up. The privy has no door but some slatted wood panels on 3 sides. Above Ouzel Falls, there is more of an incline, then a more open area (from the 1978 fire) with lots of new growth trees and neat lightning struck trees. Then you'll go through an established forest and back into a more open area from the fire. You'll encounter this type of topography a few times before reaching a steeper section. After the split-off to Ouzel Lake, there are a variety of wildflowers and lots of raspberry bushes. There are more and more flowers the farther you go. The last half mile to the lake is the steepest and includes a steep, short rock section and large snowfield on an incline; both are definitely doable as you take your time. After some rain the day before, the mosquitoes were especially bad and relentless beginning around the split-off to Ouzel Lake to Bluebird Lake and definitely the worst at Bluebird Lake where there were the most mosquitoes we've encountered in Colorado. We had lots of chipmunk and marmot sightings and only saw a half dozen people at Bluebird Lake, definitely a much different wilderness experience than at the beginning of the trail. Solitude and amazing scenery at the lake.

    Kris Eich completed Bluebird Lake Trail

    3 months ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Lakes of the Clouds

    5 months ago

    We hiked this trail 5/12/2018 via the Gibson Creek Trailhead and made it to the lower lake. Towards the beginning of the trail, we saw Henry Tjhie, and he told us we wouldn't need our snowshoes. The mud and snow depth then was manageable in boots and there were only a handful of places where we had to walk across snow, many of which are probably melted by now. The frozen waterfall was very neat. Just before the lake, there was a large snow field, and we only sunk into the snow in a few spots. Saw less than 10 people the entire time, so it was very peaceful. The large, wide creek crossing was doable with a couple large logs to walk across, even with all the snow run-off. It was slow going for most of the trail since there are LOTS of downed trees, creating all kinds of obstacles, some of which you have to wander off the trail to go around. Lots of birds in the area. It was neat seeing a ptarmigan once on the way up and once on the way back in about the same spot. It was very windy at the lake, so much that it was creating waves, something we had never seen in the backcountry. We spent a while trying to figure out how to get to the upper lakes. We tried going around on the right side of the lake, but no luck. We did, however, spot a bunch of fish in some of the ponds behind the lake on the right side. We realized later that the trail to the upper lakes goes around on the left side via some logs over part of the lake; the trail was difficult to see because of heavily overgrown bushes. Even though the lake was beautiful and serene, only giving this trail 3 stars because of all the downed trees, difficulty route finding to the upper lakes, and lack of views on the way up.

    Kris Eich completed Lakes of the Clouds

    5 months ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Island Lake Via Ice Lakes Trail

    about 1 year ago

    We hiked to Island Lake over Labor Day weekend. The scenery was great, but we liked Ice and Fuller Lakes better out of the 3 lakes. Giving this hike only 3 stars because of the condition of the trail to Island Lake. The trail was sketchy in a few places. I am afraid of heights and exposure, and there were 2 sections that really scared me. One was rocky, which required some scrambling, and the other one was a steep gravel slide path. We had forgotten to bring daypacks, so we had to maneuver around with our backpacking packs (although they were mostly empty, it was quite awkward). Very glad we had trekking poles!
    There weren't as many flowers around this lake as there were around Ice and Fuller Lakes. You have to get creative going to the bathroom since it's above treeline. The water is much greener, and the island is neat. One guy swam across to the island, and his dog followed him. Brrrrrrr!

    Kris Eich completed Island Lake Via Ice Lakes Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Kris Eich completed Ice Lake Basin Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Ice Lake Basin Trail

    about 1 year ago

    We backpacked up to the lower Ice Lakes Basin over Labor Day weekend, and it was incredible. We arrived at the TH at 8am, and there were probably half a dozen spots left out of about 60+. The weather was great, and the scenery was spectacular. The trail was well-marked. We had lots of campsite choices in the lower basin. Ours was the best--about a 5-min walk to water, views of the upper trail for people watching (and there were lots of people and dogs!), and views of the neighboring peaks and the large "chalky" waterfall. Some backpackers camped at the upper basin, but we opted not to since there are no trees/shelter from storms and it's very wind-exposed up there. Although there were lots of people (probably about 40 people camping), we still managed to find solitude in the lower basin. Cross the wide creek and wander around where there are trees to the left/south of the basin, and you'll find a bunch of campsites along several foot trails. We filtered water coming from the "clear" (non-chalky) stream from Fuller Lake.
    In the lower basin, a little bit of flowers remained. The flowers must be amazing in July! Fall colors were starting to come out on the leaves. Minimal mosquitoes.
    The trail to Ice Lake was strenuous with minor scrambling in a few sections. The color of Ice Lake is unbelievable. It should be called "Blue Lake." There were lots of flowers in the upper basin (moreso than the lower basin), even in early Sep.
    We opted to hike to all 3 lakes, and Ice Lake was our favorite because of the unique blue color of the water, the flowers, and the backdrop. Our 2nd favorite was Fuller Lake (the largest of the 3 and also where some people fish) because of the lack of crowds, lots of flowers, and incredible views looking back at Ice Lake and over towards Molas Pass. The trail to Fuller Lake was meandering and not difficult. When we arrived at the lake, there was only 1 person! We ate a peaceful lunch there and enjoyed checking out the dilapidated mining cabin that had an adjacent picnic table. It was the perfect finish to a wonderful hike!
    According to the Fitbit, it was 3,192 feet elevation gain roundtrip including all 3 lakes (Ice, Island, and Fuller).

    Kris Eich reviewed Limber Grove Trail

    about 1 year ago

    We started from the trailhead at the Horseshoe Campground, where we were camping. Since we were staying there, we didn't have very far to walk to the trailhead, which starts at the back of the campground. For those that aren't staying in the campground, you have to park at a small parking area to the right/west, just before the campground entrance.
    Great trail for kids! This was the perfect trail for our almost 3-year old to hike up to the limber grove (then we carried him down in the backpack carrier), although the talus at the grove was a little difficult for him to navigate over. Our boys loved the old trees. Many of them had been struck by lightning, so there were lots of pretty colors on the bark. Such a unique place. We didn't continue on to the Fourmile Campground since the limber grove was our destination anyways.

    Kris Eich completed Limber Grove Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Kris Eich reviewed McCullough Gulch Trail

    about 1 year ago

    This hike is amazing. We hiked all the way up to the lake and found a nice spot near some rocks and wind-blown trees to sit above the lake. The trees provided some good shelter from the strong, cold wind. We have hiked to many backcountry lakes, and this one is definitely up there as being one of the BEST. The trail is steep, and it seems more like a 4- or 5-mile hike. The trail is wide at the beginning and follows what must have been an old mining road. There are cabin ruins and a beautiful double waterfall along the way. It is well-signed up to the waterfall and then there are a few different ways up here and there through the trees, some of which are quite big for such altitude!
    We saw a bunch of mountain goats (looked like moving white specks) up on the high ridges by Quandary Peak and along the ridges above the lake but saw none up close. Definitely wish we would have brought binoculars. We did find a bunch of mountain goat hair hanging on bushes around the lake, which was a cool site. The trail was a little sketchy and a bit rocky in places, especially closer to the lake and at the lake, but manageable if you take your time and have trekking poles. There are a few different routes to reach the trees by the lake. All the way to where we hiked at the lake, it was about 1356 feet elevation gain.
    We hiked with our 6-year old and carried our 2-year old in a (heavy) pack, so we took our time. Including an hour spent at the lake, it took us about 5 1/2 hours roundtrip from our car. It took us only 1 1/2 hours to hike down.
    The note in the description for this hike is incorrect. Rd 851 is not closed. After researching beforehand, I found that this road was closed in 2016. You do have to walk down a road a little bit to the official trailhead. There is roadside parking and a pseudo trailhead and then a big gate blocking the road before actually reaching the trailhead maybe a half mile down the road. There is a sign saying that cars cannot park beyond the pseudo trailhead.

    Kris Eich completed McCullough Gulch Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Medano Lake Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Because I didn't find much online about this trail, I wanted to write a thorough review. We completed this hike on August 6, which took us about 5 hours to do the whole hike (including two 20-min breaks). The trailhead is a half mile off of the Medano Pass 4-wheel drive road, and about a 2-hour drive from the Sand Dunes. When researching this hike, I found conflicting mileage and elevation gain stats. The sign at the trailhead says this hike is 4 miles one way, and my Fitbit said it was 1,963 elevation gain, which jived with the trailhead sign. The Rio Grande National Forest site lists this trail as medium usage, but it is very lightly used. The small parking lot only fits about 3-5 cars, and we only saw 7 people on the whole hike.
    The first third of the hike is easy, and the last 1-1 1/2 miles are steep. The trail goes through a dense pine and aspen forest with a few clearings along the way. Many fallen trees are littered on the trail towards the beginning, so they make for lots of obstacles to step over. There are 5 official stream crossings that aren't bad with log bridges or fallen trees or rocks to cross over.
    We got caught in two short hail storms on the way up, only lasting for a few minutes at a time. Lots of wildflowers, including a few beautiful fields of them. Very green, muddy, and wet, which was indicative of the recent very wet weather.
    A good campsite in the trees is about a half mile or less before the lake with a good creek nearby for water filtering. A few backpackers that we saw had stayed at the campsite and said it was nice.
    The lake was beautiful although the clouds and weather were pretty socked in, so we didn't get to see all the scenery. There aren't very many trees at the lake, and the ones that are there are very short and wind-blown. It started spitting rain on us at the lake, and we were caught in a big rain and thunder storm for about two thirds of our hike down. That was a bit scary, so we ran a good portion of the trail down and were completely soaked in our raincoats and ponchos. We can't imagine what happened to the couple we saw heading up to the lake after us; they had no gear or water! Our 6-year old did awesome, and this was the hardest hike he's done now.

    Kris Eich completed Medano Lake Trail

    about 1 year ago

    Kris Eich followed Jeff Eichers

    about 1 year ago

    Kris Eich followed Jamie Miceli

    about 1 year ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Browns Creek Waterfall Trail

    over 1 year ago

    My husband surprised me with doing this hike for Mother's Day, and it was great! Where there was snow in plenty of other places around Colorado, there wasn't any snow on the trail then. This was our 6-year old's toughest hike to date, and he did wonderful. We got a later start than we would have liked, but that was okay, since there weren't any thunderstorms brewing. In addition to seeing a lot of people, we saw some horses on the trail that stopped before the falls. The waterfall area was gorgeous, and the perfect spot for snacks and playtime for our boys. I would love to go back and go farther (to Brown's Lake) the next time.

    Kris Eich completed Browns Creek Waterfall Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Kris Eich reviewed Heizer Trail

    over 1 year ago

    Hiked in the area for years and never even knew about this trail. Wanted a steep hike to train for a big backpacking trip, and this was perfect! I was a bit nervous reading the reviews about the steepness and gravel in places, but it was doable and having my trekking pole made it a lot easier! I can see how it would be tough on older folks though. We hiked up to the 703 French Creek sign/connection to Barr Trail, which made a good turnaround point. Glad we started early because the sun is intense during the first part of the trail. Saw probably a dozen people on the trail, including a mountain biker. A runner ahead of us apparently had spooked a bear, so that was exciting, although we never saw it.

    Kris Eich completed Heizer Trail

    over 1 year ago