Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Eagles Nest Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
14 days ago

I really love this hike. I went up in early June last year. The first week I went there was a significant amount of snow. The next weekend had zero snow. Very scenic, away from any road noise and not very busy. There were a ton of downed trees in the trail but I had fun getting over them. There are also a few water crossings and one or two that are challenging. I would recommend wearing shoes that can dry out quickly in case you fall in. I wouldn't say this is a terribly difficult hike, I've gone up with friends that aren't fit and it just required more breaks. The lake itself is beautiful and totally worth the trek. I'd like to backpack up here this summer.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing hike through beautiful alpine meadows with wild flowers and marmots. The lake is stunning!

hiking
5 months ago

Was up there this week on Wednesday the 22nd of November. I hiked up to the falls at first and that was a piece of cake. The falls around about 4km one way and then I hiked towards the lake. Did not need any special gear. Had solid 3 season La Sportiva waterproof booths and great hiking / also use them for skiing north face summit series pants. Since I forgot my gaiters a taped my ankles with a lot of masking tape. All he Way from the shoe up to my knee. This served as my gaiters. Past the falls I was was the only one and also the first to do a snow pack. There was no need for crampons (maybe snow shoes) and I did struggle in terms of a more strenuous effort of going up. It was heavier on my stamina. I turned around about 0.4 miles from the lake or so. Like someone in the comments below suggested they saw the trail end there lol! I turned because it was 3pm and I needed time to go get down + room for extra light in case of an injury. I had a drone with me so I flew up from the spot I was in and got to see the lake that way :) I was really close but at the end it was just snowing + getting dark + the snow in some parts was chest deep without any trail or snow pack to follow. Kinda bummed out since I was so close but all an all great hike. I think this hike in the summer is a peace of a cake. Curious if you can hike from the lake to one of the peaks? Does anyone know ? Cheers! My time was 3 hours up (including a lot of photography) and 30 minutes down (full on running)

hiking
5 months ago

Completed this hike in both the summer and winter. Yesterday I attempted to make it to the lake but there was a lot of snow, I was not properly prepared. The trail to the falls was snowy but doable without spikes/traction devices. Past the falls the trail was barely trafficked and my spikes were necessary. The trail disappeared about 0.25 miles from the lake and the snow was thigh high in some places. Trekked through it for a bit but I eventually had to turn around (no snow pants or snow gear with me). On the way down I saw a lot of people struggling to make it to the falls without spikes/ traction devices. Highly recommend them for the second half of the trail in the winter months.

6 months ago

We mistakenly took the trail head and lower Piney lake and then Meadow Creek Road. Still pretty but the 9-mile dirt road made me like it less than others.

6 months ago

A beautiful place to be, conveniently close to town as well. If you've got the stamina to rock this trail then do it...great view of holy cross while going up to the lake. Most people stop at the falls a few miles in - it's very worth it to keep going. Big family of marmots live up top at the lake and they will surely be scoping you out and talking to each other!

hiking
6 months ago

Came back to do this hike in the fall for the changing color aspens and was SO worth it. The aspens were still almost full blazing color changes of yellows, oranges, and reds it was so beautiful. It snowed earlier in the week so as we got higher up there was some snow to trek through and then the weather got funky so we headed back before we got to the lake but we will be back (probably next fall) for the colors and to try and finally get to that lake.

Long and bumpy dirt road to get to the lake. But worth it! The lake itself is gorgeous, but the trails around it were just decent in my opinion. The real prize is the lake, which you don’t even have to hike to get to, it’s right where you park.

The views from the whole trail are stunning. When I imagine Colorado this is what comes to mind. Wildlife is everywhere. We saw a bald eagle and a moose. This was a great trail!

It is absolutely worth the looooong drive down the dirt road. The view of the lake when you get to the ranch is stunning. The hike itself is relatively easy. There's only a short bit of climbing. Really beautiful with the golden aspens this weekend. We also saw a moose on the drive in!

Loved this hike so much we've done it twice in two weeks and 1/2 way with our 5 year old. Love love love

Hiked mid-September.Made it to the lake in 2hr 30min, spent 20 min at the lake, and 1hr 50min back to the car. I didn't really stop to take any breaks outside of taking photos. I was the 3rd car in the parking lot on a Friday morning at 7:30. Had the lake all to myself, but crossed paths with dozens of people on the return hike and the parking lot was completely full. Aspen leaves just starting to change but wild flowers are few and far between. Beautiful views and the lake is the highlight. The falls were nice but tough to get a good view or decent photo. Be prepared for a long climb!

100% worth the drive - we did it in a rental Ford Fusion, so you can do it in anything. Piney River Ranch at the trailhead is super hospitable, and the trail is gorgeous. I'd rate it as easy though, other than the fact that it's a little long out and back.

backpacking
7 months ago

Decent elevation gain. Well planned trail. A lot of traffic on the weekends.

Lovely hike! The trailhead can be difficult to find for a first-timer to the area. Be prepared for a long bumpy ride. I wouldn't drive it in a two wheel drive car. At first, we stopped at the lower Piney trail. Don't stop there. Go all the way to the lake at Piney River Ranch. When we left around 12:30, the parking was pretty full so go early. The trail is 3 miles to the falls which are pretty, but not super impressive as falls go. The first two miles are easy and then it gets hilly and rocky. Anyone in relatively good shape can do it. The views and aspen trees are gorgeous. Saw 4 moose before reaching the trailhead on the road. In a Jeep, the drive is half the fun.

backpacking
7 months ago

Definitely more difficult than I expected. Especially for my first time backpacking. Pretty area with lots of camping spots (no fires, unfortunately). Make sure you go the extra few miles to Upper Cataract!

This is a beautiful hike! I wouldn't necessarily classify it as moderate, there were sections that were more challenging but overall pretty easy. Important note...this hike is 3 miles in to the Falls, you have to hike another 4 beyond that to get to Upper Piney Lake. We had a family member with us from TX and the altitude was getting to her so we didn't go beyond the falls. Truly so many beautiful photo ops and the leaves are changing already! Be ready for an EXTREMELY bumpy, slow ride in and zero cell service!! The 12 miles in took 45 min. Enjoy!

hiking
7 months ago

I would not call this a moderate trail, it is more difficult than expected. Went in mid July. Steep, rocky incline for most of the hike. I'm physically fit and this was difficult for me. I hike it with an out of town friend who is moderately fit and she struggled with the steep incline plus the difference in altitude. Definitely not a beginning hikers trail. The scenery is wildflower meadows at the beginning then gets to be forest for a good majority until you reach the lake. We got rained on mid hike and it got pretty chilly, so bring a light jacket as a precaution. Going back down the mountain is also quite challenging as it is easy to slip on loose rocks and dirt. Would recommend walking sticks or some kind of aide for those who have ankle or knee issues.

Nonetheless, getting to the lake makes the hike worth it. It is a beautiful view and has plenty of areas to relax and take in the scenery.

P.S. DEFINITELY BRING BUG SPRAY. we used it aggressively.

backpacking
8 months ago

Awesome trail. All of the really hard part is in the first 2 miles. We logged this as 6 miles in and 6 out on the GPS. After Surprise lake the trail mellows. We saw lots of mushrooms. No great views until Cataract lake due to dense forest thus the 4 stars and maybe 40 people were up there by Saturday night, we were glad we went Friday as people were struggling to find spots by Sat night. Cataract Lake was hard to fish, nothing bit on good worms in 2 days of fishing. We only caught 3 baby 5 in brookies with metal spoons. Also this is a difficult trail, almost 3,000 ft of elevation gain and 12 miles I'm seeing 8 mile trails with 2,000 ft that are called difficult.

backpacking
8 months ago

Yep, it's mostly uphill but hey, most of Colorado is! I led the boy scouts up this trail and we made a 4 day event of it. The trail passes Surprise Lake - a picturesque lake with flowering, floating Lilies. If you camp at this lake, I recommend as soon as you see the lake, hop over the little hill on the north and drop down the other side. It's more secluded and off the trail. As the trail continues towards Cataract Lake, it levels out for awhile then, one last upward trek to some really great views then quickly drop down to Cat and Cataract Lake. Be prepared for any weather as we had over an inch of hail that lasted for 20 minutes. Afternoon rain was regular but that didn't last long.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing views, long walk, go early, it's 4 hrs more or less to the lake and 2 hrs back, weather changes really fast so be prepared, lots of water and food and wait for when the sun hits the lake... just AMAZING and totally worth it!

one of the best hikes i have been on. Piney Lake is gorgeous with spectacular views of surrounding mountains and rivers. We camped nearby on the Red White and Blue trail and we had a great night of camping.

Easy and quiet in beautiful CO

Great views!!

backpacking
8 months ago

Not the most scenic hike, and pretty much uphill all the way out. That said, Upper Cataract Lake and Surprise Lake both have great camping spots. Went during the week and it wasn't busy at all. Plenty of space. Fun to do once.

Incredible views. It started with a little rain but this quickly passed. The continuous views of the green valley with the view of Mt. Powell in the background was stunning. The trail was moderately trafficked. Reaching the Falls themselves was not as incredible as I imagined but the journey there is what makes this hike worth it. Photos to come

Beautiful trail, especially in the fall through groves of aspen trees. Lake is surrounded by part of Gore range. That alone is worth the drive. View near the top looking back to the lake is well worth the hike.

Beautiful hike with steep inclines and eroded trails but beautiful streams and well cared for paths. Lakes, views, streams, and lots of squirrels.

Great trail. Not so difficult, less than 6 miles. Watch out for the almost 45 minute drive on a dirt road. MUST have bug spray.

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