Explore the most popular camping trails in White River National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hard. Moderate in sections but mostly hard. Had to turn around 2.75 miles up due to potential thunderstorms. All trails not matching up elevation/distance with Fitbit. Someone said it’s 4.5 miles to cabin today, so not sure where distance and elevations are measured. Good training.

Really enjoyed this easier moderate hike. Great views along the way and fun rocks to play or hang out on.

Had a great time on this hike. Was a little cold and very windy up at the top. But very rewarding views all the way up the mountain. Also, mountain goats were awesome!

I agree with other comment. One adder. Don’t stop at the cabin. Only about 1/4 mile more opens into large bowl that’s breathtaking. The red line on this app stops at the cabin but the trail goes on. Definitely worth the extra effort if you are already at the cabin.

Climbed yesterday, June 23. Very crowded but nice challenging climb. Descent was very challenging because of the slippery sand and loose rock - I didn’t use trekking poles but would highly recommend them for anyone who wants to save their knees. While this is an “easier” 14er remember there are no “easy” 14ers! Saw a lot of folks unprepared for the climb that ended up turning back and looked pretty miserable. Took us a little less than 4 hours to summit, but we took lots of photo and snack breaks and rests on the final pitch where the air is extremely thin. Overall, great climb, but don’t underestimate it!

Hard hike but just as scenic the entire way up as at the top. We got lost at the top, so stay left and cross the creek. No snow on the trail as of 6/16.

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.

This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful route, couldn't stop smiling. Definitely make the trek out to Island Lakes! Deep in this 23-mile tour de force of breathtaking views, it's a gem among jewels.

***no glass***
***pack out your poop***

Stunning hike and hot springs, except that we cleaned up and packed out a previous camper's food trash and poop, in addition to our own. The hotsprings was lovely but people brought glass wine bottles and glass pipes. This area is world class! Be a better steward!

We are pretty fit ladies from Denver and we took six hours going up and four coming down. My GPS/Garmin claimed it was 9.8 miles (?!?).

The creek fording was mid-calf/below the knee on June 13-15.

Gorgeous place. I hope people don't ruin it.

hiking
4 days ago

We did this trail on 6/19/18, and was our first 14er. My husband and I are athletic and felt this was a good trail. We left the trailhead at 7:30, and it took us exactly 3 hours to get to the summit (this includes the many breaks I had to take to catch my breath during the last mile up). We brought a light lunch to eat at the summit. I would definitely have a jacket and highly suggest gloves, as it gets very windy as you go. Our trip down was about 2 1/2 hours, but that was because we stopped a lot to take pictures on the way down. We saw lots of goats and other little critters. Overall, it was a great experience.

Incredible hike, the new permit system and ranger enforcement has really gotten the area cleaned up. Springs are very clean. If you can do it on a weekday you'l likely have the area to yourself or only with a few other people. Not near as difficult of a hike as a lot of people seem to make it out to be. Trailhead to main pool in just under 3 hours, back down to trailhead in just over 2 hours. Don't think of it as a 17 mile hike, it's more like a 8.5 mile hike, with several hours in a hot spring, with another, separate 8.5 mile hike afterwards.

GPS clocked around 8.4 miles each way, trail and campsites are now free of snow.

hiking
4 days ago

I hiked Quandary Peak on Saturday, June 16th with my father. We arrived at the trail head around 5 am. Cars were already filling up the upper parking lot. In fact, we secured one of the last spots. The lower parking lot is not too much further away, I would guess around 300 yards lower or so from the upper parking lot.

We saw a couple groups utilizing headlamps at this time, however with sunrise around 5:20ish this time of the year, I really don't see a need.

The trail starts off with a pretty steady climb through wooded hills. This is a beautiful area. As you continue to climb elevation, the trees start to thin and you get into the meat of the hike. The terrain gradually transitions into rocky footing instead of dirt path. About 1/3 of the way through the climb you are completely above the tree line.

The next 1/3 of the hike is comprised of gradual ascent on rocky trail that is pretty well maintained by local 14er groups. There are many "rock steps" built into the trail that help with footing and the elevation gain. At the final section of this part, the trail evens out for several hundred yards ahead of what we dubbed as the "final assault."

Up until the last 1000 or so feet of elevation gain, Quandary is a relatively docile hike. That changes quickly.

The last 1000 ft of elevation gain are tough, and not to be taken lightly. There is plenty of scree (loose rock underfoot, sometimes as small as a pebble) that you must navigate, and somewhat steep elevation. That being said, there is plenty of room to stop and take breaks as needed, and the people on the trail are generally very courteous about making room for you when you take a break.

That being said, the views are well worth the hike! You can see many 14ers from the top of Quandary, including but not limited to: Greys and Torreys, most of the Collegiate Peaks, Mt Massive, and others.

Overall, the hike took my father and I around 7 hours from start to finish. This was heavily influenced by the fact that we had 45 lb packs on our back and had to take several breaks on our way to the summit. In addition, I would guess that we spent around 30 minutes on the peak. Plan to build time into your schedule for this very thing!

Overall, I highly recommend this hike! All skill levels and ages are able to complete it, just make sure to accurately forecast enough time to be off the peak and well into your descent by noon!

on Quandary Peak Trail

4 days ago

Our first 14er! Start early in the day to avoid afternoon storms. Trekking poles were a huge help. Gorgeous views all along the trail. Definitely planning to do this one again.

I’m currently plannng 7 day trip doing a loop up Cross Creek down Fall Creek, and back over to the Cross Creek Trailhead. My plan is this:

Day 1. Hike up Cross Creek to Harvey Lake and camp
Day 2. Hike past Treasure Vault Lake, over Fancy Pass and into Holy Cross City, and either camp there or a little further down the trail at Hunky Dory Lake.
Day 3. Hike to Lake Constantine and camp.
Day 4. Visit the nearby Tuhare Lakes, then camp again at Lake Constantine.
Day 5. Hike to Half Moon Campground but continue on over Half Moon Pass and down to the East Cross Creek crossing, and camp.
Day 6. Tackle the summit of Mount Holy Cross, then back down and camp again at East Cross Creek crossing.
Day 7. Follow East Cross Creek about a mile or so over to Cross Creek and Cross Creek Trail, then back down Cross Creek Trail the remaining 5 or six miles to the trailhead, and pray that my car will still be there.

The normal conclusion of this loop would involve hiking 8 miles down the dirt road from Half Moon Campground to the Cross Creek Trailhead, resulting in total hiking distance on the last day of 11 to 12 miles, which would start with a 1000 foot ascent over Half Moon Pass. My proposed alternate route would cut that distance by about half and eliminate the big ascent back over Halfmoon Pass, plus I’d still be doing my hiking n the wilderness instead of down a boring dirt road. The only drawback is that there is no established trail down East Cross Creek back to Cross Creek, but the rangers tell me there shouldn’t be any big problems negotiating that short traverse.

If anyone has tried this before, I’d love to hear from you! My email address is jmichaelclaylaw@aol.com.

Went backpacking to Surprise Lake last night. Like other reviews say, lots of mosquitos. We were the only ones there though.
The road is closed about a mile before the trailhead, so it was just under 4 miles to the lake.

hiking
5 days ago

Funny the last review was 5 hours ago, and the previous was 2016. I checked this yesterday and decided to try, but just like Anna, I found the road closed. It's closed about 1 mile before the cross creek trailhead.

Be aware road doesn’t open until 6/21

Nice hike if you only have a half of a day. The gate was closed adding a mile or so to the overall hike. Great views along the hike from several vantage points. We took a short detour off the trail before the bridge about 50-yards downhill to the creek. Beautiful area to lunch or rest on the smooth boulders & rock walls with swirling eddy’s below cascading down to mini-waterfalls. Very serene & regenerative stop along the trail. Stopped at the bridge and headed back down with the family.

At this current time with the condition of the trail, it is easily do-able in one day! There's really not a lot of wet trail, mostly dry except for the creek crossings. I started at 0730 and I was at the hot springs by noon. I had the springs all to myself for about an hour, which was a very nice treat. The trek down took about 3 hours, but I was hoofing it pretty hard on the descent. Definitely will see some wildlife! I saw two moose! and others I talked to on the trail had seen a bear. The rangers were out and being very stingy about permits and bear canisters, so make sure you have both if you're doing an overnight. Enjoy! It's a magical place.

Backpacked this 6/13-6/14, trail was fairly moderate most of the way up until about the last mile. That was the steepest part of the hike in my opinion. Also, got to the top and we were booked to camp inside eight. My partner and I spent amount 45 minutes to an hour simply looking for the site. We did not find it, as a lot of the area inside seven and eight were covered with snow. Not sure if you can find them now. We ended up staying inside one, even though online everything looked book, there were probably approximately six groups at the top. Also a woman that I met at the top said that this trail was actually approximately 10 miles instead of the 8.7 miles according to the app.

We did a 3 day backpacking trip from Aspen to Crested Butte so I'll break it down day by day. There was 5 of us and all of us are in our upper 20s and in good shape. However, only one of us had been on a long backpacking trip like this before.
Day 1: Arrived at Condundrum Creek trailhead on Aspen side on June 14, 2018 around 9 a.m. Got to the springs by 3. Still a few parking spots left. Parking doesn't seem to be as much of a problem as I thought it might be due to people constantly coming and going on the trail. However, it was a Thursday, not a weekend day. It took us about 6 hours to reach the hot springs including lunch and other short breaks. The river you have to ford towards the end of the hike was not difficult at all but we did not see the rope that is mentioned in other post. The last 2 miles is the most difficult part of this hike with most of the elevation gain in this section. The springs were beautiful, clean and only had about 20 people in them that night. Didn't feel crowded at all. Most people chose the nude option when in the springs. No snow pack on the trail at all this time of year. Definetly a doable out-and-back with just a day pack but would need to start early.
Day 2: Hiked over Triangle Pass to Copper Lake. Started around noon and got to the lake around 5. The hike up to Triangle Pass was very difficult with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain in only 2-3 miles. You cross over 4-5 small streams, about 2-3 snow packed areas and 2-3 small scree fields. It gets cold and windy towards the top so bring warm clothes. From the top of the pass it is a 2,000 foot elevation drop over about another 2-3 miles down to Copper Lake. There are about 7 areas where you have to walk through snow pack and most of the way down is through scree fields. Not particularly difficult but very tedious and tiring especially after just summiting Triangle Pass. The whole trip took about 4-5 hours. The last hour or so was difficult as we were very tired. However, Copper Lake was definetly worth it. We camped out there that night and had the whole lake to ourselves. Would not recommend hiking all the way down to Crested Butte from Condundrum Springs in one day and unless you are a very strong and experienced hiker or started early enough to take a lot of extended breaks.
Day 3: Continued down Copper Creek Trail down to the Judd Falls Trailhead. Was only about 4-5 miles long. Downhill the whole way. Had to ford a few small creeks but was a very easy and relaxing hike to end the trip. Only took about 2 1/2 hours.
Overall, a challenging trip, especially for beginners. But the springs, the views and alpine lake made it all worth it. The challenge was just part of the adventure.

Went backpacking in this area; we made it up to Harvey Lake but got rained out Saturday night and came back down to the TH on Sunday.

On paper this trail seems pretty moderate but after ascending to Harvey Lake, it was considerably more difficult than expected past Surprise Lake approximately. There is an astounding amount of deadfall on the trail as you go up and with the water still being high there are a few creek crossings that require care. After Reed's Meadow there is also a completely flooded section you will have to navigate without stepping in. The bugs are plentiful right now so finding a good windy campsite took time. If you are trying to go backpacking in this area right now I suggest go as high as you can manage to avoid mosquitoes. We did not encounter many at Harvey Lake at 11k and above.

on Peaks Trail

8 days ago

Hiked Frisco to Breckinridge. 8.3 miles one way, took the gondola down to town for food. Beautiful trail, very well marked and maintained. All creeks were running so the sound and sights were just perfect. No snow but a few muddy spots.

Not sure why it’s rated as Hard — perhaps the round trip. One way I’d “downgrade” it to a Moderate.

This is a great hike with beautiful views and a CLEAN hot spring at the end. Sorry, but this is easily doable in one day. My daughter is 27 and I'm 54 years old and we not only did it one day, but drove all the way back to Colorado Springs too. Do get there earlier in the day bc the parking lot fills up fast. Happy trails!

Beautiful hike up to wall lake

Awesome trail, no snow at all. Took us 3 hours with a short lunch break at the lake.

Gorgeous trail. Mountain goats, pika, prairie dogs, and more wildlife make for an even more interesting 14er experience. Ridgeline is beautiful and overlooks upper and lower Blue Lakes. This was an enjoyable hike. Start early, as storms will brew in the afternoons.

hiking
10 days ago

I hiked Quandary on Wednesday (6/13). Left around 5am from Denver and started at the trailhead by 6:45am. I summited almost exactly 2 hrs later and was back at my car by 10:45am for a smooth 4 hour round trip (hung out for 20 mins at the summit). This was my first time hiking Quandary, but it was my 10th 14er I've hiked. Trekking poles made this hike much easier, especially for the last half mile or so climb, but not required. Saw lots of mountain goats and once you're out of tree line the views are beautiful.

hiking
11 days ago

Hiked this with my dog last week (Early June) and started at 1030 am. I like to go for time instead of destination since I’m busy busy. We made it to an awesome bridge in 90 min!

The trail is pretty easy to find the whole way and there are no crazy inclines. We had trouble in one spot on the way back where we went right instead of left on a crossroads and ended up at Tiguan Road. Don’t try to take it back to Minturn, you won’t be happy! Thankfully other hikers helped us back.

Overall, it was a beautiful hike through various terrain with lots of surprises along the way including carcasses and some people riding llamas. We didn’t see any wilderness animals along the way but maybe because it was the middle if the

On our way up, we only encountered a few people but by the time we were headed down the trail was busier. Lots of dogs and most of the good owners leashed when coming into sight of my canine companion. This is important to us as hikers because sometimes he’s a jerk when on leash and sees a non-leashed dog. We need space on the trail to give the dogs/owners to pass by without confrontation. There was plenty on this hike.

I hear if you go far enough you’ll get to a lake. Can’t wait to try!

walking
12 days ago

Great views! Took us a little longer to get to main trail but worth every step. Good physical challenge combined with friendly goats, spring flowers and 360 views.

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