Explore the most popular birding 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.

We went during the week back in August to avoid the crowds. Bumpy road going up in a Jeep. Views are stunningly beautiful. Gentle stroll at first then slow ascent. I’d barely call this moderate.....more like advanced easy

Beautiful views of the mountains and aspen colors. Got lucky with the weather, leaves we're peaking and mountains we're snow dusted.

15 days ago

I started in Vail Village, so I took the Strawberry Lane trail to Berrypicker up to Eagle's Nest. It is steep but beautiful patches of aspens everywhere even though the valley is past peak. It rained with a little snow on October 4th, so poles were necessary on the slippery terrain.

on Gore Lake

16 days ago

Beautiful fall hike, low traffic, no bikes, plenty of breathtaking views! The full out-and-back loop is more like 14.4mi. The route to the lake is tough, and slow going, even for experienced hikers.

There are mountain goats up at the lake, please don’t feed them!!


9/30/18: Beautiful and challenging for a backpack trek. Aspens are great all the way up to the lake. The trail is steep, but not too painful. The trail is very narrow in sections and one portion is cut into a hill and you feel as though you might slide off. Trees were great this weekend. If you’re going up to camp, please mind the 100’ from the lake expectation, even if you see an established camp. Also, to those with dogs: the first few miles are on a southern slope and it was hot. No water access until the lake.

Great fall foliage!

21 days ago

Beautiful hike, but challenging. It was a great character builder for my eight-year-old son , 11-year-old daughter and wife. Coming from sea level the day before added to the challenge, but the kids made the trek in 7:30 hours with a stop for lunch at the lake. Can’t wait to do it again.

21 days ago

Really fantastic hike from Surprise Trailhead to Upper Cataract Lake. About 11 miles round trip. From Surprise Trailhead to Surprise Lake, it is 3 miles of steady uphill. Then gets easy the rest of the way.

From Upper Cataract to Mirror it is about 2 miles, mostly downhill. Total, if you go a little past Upper Cataract to Mirror Lake you're looking at 14 miles round trip, with only about 3 miles of difficulty in the beginning.

Once you get to Upper Cataract Lake the trail diverges in multiple places but it finally comes together on the way to Mirror Lake. We found a campsite about .33 miles from Mirror Lake and used that but there are plenty of spaces around Mirror Lake and it is less crowded than Upper Cataract and not too much further.

Note: there is NO camping within 100 feet of the lakes and no fires allowed within .25 miles of any lake. Stoves are ok. There are few campsites within .25 miles of any lake, so be prepared to camp without a fire if it is crowded.

Garmin Activity Going Up:
Garmin Activity Going Back:

23 days ago

This is an amazing hike. The first quarter of a mile or less has some burned forest but after that it gets really pretty. The walk is from moderate to hard, it gets tough at times but so worth it! Getting to the water fall definitely made our day, the view is impressive. We sat for a good 20 mind to half hour and the experience was really relaxing.

This hike beat us. It was tough and steep, but very beautiful. We are from sea level. The altitude also got us. The views are worth it, even though we didn't make it to the top. The scree/talus field did us in. We climbed it for a bit and had .8 of a mile and 1,000 ft of elevation gain left. That was our first encounter with rock like that and we gave it our best shot. On our climb down from the field, we got way off the path. Thank goodness for the GPS tracker in this app!

24 days ago

Amazing hike with spectacular views and fall Aspen colors. We did the whole 11 mile loop including Gore Range and Surprise Lake Trails - took us 6 hours.

26 days ago

Date: 9/22/18, 7:30am-1:30pm
Conditions: Sunny, clear, temps 40-65F
Adequate dirt, roadside parking at trailhead. More parking available up the hill. Watch for bicyclists coming down when leaving.
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!
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.

Great hike!

Yes, the drive up is long and bumpy, but the hike is so worth it. Fall colors were absolutely beautiful and view over the lake and mountains when you first start is breathtaking. Not a challenging hike at all with just a slight incline and some areas where you have to climb over some rocks. Totally fine to take kids on. There was quite a crowd when I was there, but you can park along the road, so don’t worry too much about that.

29 days ago

Beautiful hike! Lots of diverse scenery....aspen groves, pine forests, open meadows, lovey views across the valley. Aspens were just about perfect this weekend. It was mostly uphill the entire way & the trail could get quite narrow, which made it seem more difficult. Lakes at the top were not the most picturesque I’ve seen but a nice place to have lunch before heading down.

Survived the long forest road in a Prius, although any amount of rain or snow would have made it too difficult to pass. The view from the TH/ranch is a stunner. The trail the whole way to the waterfall is an easy hike, and the incline becomes much more challenging up the ridge afterward. We didn’t make more than a mile or so past the waterfall, the view looking back down and out to the Gore Range was worth the extra jaunt.

Along the ridge trail, beautiful aspen colors. Saw moose near winding river below. Several streams with logs to walk over. Waterfall minimal due to dry season

Really nice trail, very cool to see the contrast from the burn against the new growth. A lot of the way there is actually downhill- the way back is where it becomes strenuous!!! The waterfall is just beautiful and you can get right up next to it—-we had a mama and baby mountain goat join us at the waterfall, apparently was their watering hole. Highly recommend!!

1 month ago

Recently ranked hardest hike in Summit County and top 5 hardest hikes in Colorado -- and, after hiking just about everything else in the area, I would have to agree. My roommate and I literally decided to do this hike on a whim after staring at this mountain for 2 solid years. Middle section of the hike is brutal and most of the 3000 ft of elevation gain happens in little more than a mile and a half. The trail is relentless going up and down and the skree field in the middle is tough. Warning, I brought my lab (like I do on all hikes) and she barely made it through the middle (and she is probably one of the most capable hikers you will ever meet). I would recommend you not bring your dog past tree line unless you know he/she can handle it. View at the top was amazing, and incredibly silent. Bring lots of water, nothing past a small creek very early into the hike. Would I do it again -- probably not -- but it was worth it. FYI, it took us about 5 hours out and back, and we are pretty solid hikers.

Absolutely beautiful fall hike! The aspens are gorgeous, and the mountains are spectacular!
The waterfall/creek at the end is nothing to write home about.
Little shade coverage, even when you’re in the trees.
The dirt road is about 5 miles and VERY bumpy- so make sure your car is ready! It’s fine in lower clearance cars as long as you drive nice and slow.

Did this hike about 5 days ago. The Golden aspen were striking and views of mountains ahead and on either side were magnificent. The falls are nice as well. It is quite sun exposed for much of the walk. We went early in morning but even then it was a hot day, but very lovely

1 month ago

Very difficult trail. Could use poles for sure. Amazing fall colors and amazing views at the top of the mountain.

1 month ago

This trail has it all, in my opinion. Very challenging at the beginning, levels off for awhile then hard again (for someone not acclimated to altitude or used to hill climbing - came from Indiana). Open meadow, forest, rushing stream and waterfall off in the distance. Didn’t have enough time to get to the lake but the Fall colors were incredibly beautiful! Loved this hike! Only did about 6 miles round trip but had done 3 earlier in the day so my knees were ready to be done hiking (poles came in very handy).

1 month ago

What an amazing hike! Pitkin lake is so beautiful during the fall. It is not as hard as you think. First mile is pretty tough but after that you can see very beautiful valley. Steady incline when you approach lake. Just bring enough water and a good snack. Must do if you in Vail area!

1 month ago

After 30 years in Summit County this Was an unexpected jewel. Particularly late in mid September with the foliage. Oh yeah we ran into a couple bull Moose having a little fun :)

Hiked nearly to the lake, had to turn around due to time. The last portion of hike (past the tree with grave marker/cant miss it) is mostly uphill. Lots to see on this hike, variety of terrain, plenty of shade, beautiful views.

I am a Summit County resident and have hiked many of the surrounding peaks. I think Buffalo offers some of the most stunning views. I completed the hike in just under 4 hours round trip. The Boulder field was not that bad and the carins were pretty easy to follow. Over all, this was a very nice hike.

Beautiful hike with golden aspen hills, blue skies, and majestic mountains in full view. Toughest part of the day is the drive to the walk. We made it in a non suv, but it’s slow, bumpy, and dusty. You are exposed in sun for most of the hike, so come early or enjoy the heat (and the crowds). But despite all that one of the most beautiful hikes ever

1 month ago

This was an incredible through-aspen-groves hike during the color change. The lakes as a final destination are a bit underwhelming in terms of a view, but we pretty much had the entire trail to ourselves, so the quiet made up for the scenery. Free-roaming cows were a highlight!

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