This section of the Rocky Mountains has ecosystems varying in elevation from the over 150 riparian lakes to Montane and subalpine forests to the alpine tundra. Large wildlife including mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, and cougars inhabit these igneous mountains and glacier valleys. The fourteener Longs Peak and Bear Lake are popular destinations.
Hiked the trail on Sunday, 03/19. The weather was beautiful, up in the 50s-60s, but because of the amount of snow that was still blanketing the trail, this was not an ideal time of year to take this trail. Snowshoes were an absolute necessity; and the hike would have been very dangerous without them. There was a stretch of about 1/4 mile by the creek which was very narrow and precarious. I am quite certain that I would have been sliding down into the ravine had I not had the spikes on my snowshoes. The trail was difficult to follow at times because of the snow. On several occasions, I lost the trail and eventually found it again. As far as the structures, I could only see one of the ruins of the Shipler cabins. When I arrived at what I am certain was the town site, all of the structures were completely buried under the snow. I could not even find the sign identifying the location. I was able to get some scenic photos of the snow capped peaks; but overall I was disappointed at having driven and hiked so long to not see and photograph the ruins I was expecting. Had the trail all to myself. With the added time of trudging through the snow, even with the snowshoes, the round trip tops about 7 hours. I did not see one other person the whole time! There were lots of moose tracks and droppings, but no wildlife spotted, with the exception of a few black and gray squirrels.
Kylie B. on Emerald Lake Trail
beautiful views. went 3/19/17 -- took a chance with a pair of snow boots and poles. it is well packed down and snow shoes would have been overkill in my mind. but I wish I would have had microspikes!
I wouldn't recommend this trail during mud season. Also, the trail around the wash is hard to find leaving you guessing as to where to pick up the trail above the wash. Finding few tracks and evidence of deep post holes we though it prudent to turn around. The locals seem to know the way and offered the info as to how to navigate but Downed tress, deep snow and poor trail markings make for a less than optimal hiking experience this time of year.
Abbey S. on Ouzel Falls Trail
Good hike but falls were covered(not surprised)
Nice trail, well worth the effort on the final push up. It was steep and slippery but microspikes made it doable. If you're heading past Loch to Sky Pond I recommend snowshoes or deep crampons. It gets incredibly difficult going up timberline falls. It's frozen, steep and icy. I got stuck about half way up and had to throw on snowshoes. Made it much easier, I just wish I had threw them on before attempting the climb up. I saw a couple of people make it with just microspikes but they were having a really hard time trying not to slip down. It was WELL worth the effort though!