Explore the most popular river 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.

Coming from the Crested Butte side, things to know in mid-May: There is a gate three miles prior to the trailhead in which only locals can pass. The gate opens for a short 30 minute window each day if you’re lucky. Bring snow shoes, there is snow 3 miles up from the trailhead which gets as deep as five feet. If not, prepare for miles of postholing which will really slow you down. There are five water crossings. Two have downed logs to carefully walk across. The other 3 will get you wet below the knees. Once you’re above tree line, the snow covers most of the trail, making it slippery and slow moving. Don’t forget your permit, bear spray, and bear box as they are required.

hiking
1 day ago

seemed harder than moderate rating, but we're not experienced hikers. well worth the effort though.

great waterfalls, definitely go to spouting rock after the lake!!!

Steep hike but well worth the effort put in! The lake up top is stunning and peaceful. I would definitely take the extra few steps further up to see sprouting rock falls. Beautiful waterfall which you are able to walk behind. My friend and I were driving back from Moab, Utah to Denver and decided to stop and do this hike. Took us about 2.5 hours round trip. Wear good hiking shoes as you’ll be climbing over rock the majority of the time. Have fun!

Steep hike, lots of fun! Would do it again

One of my oldest friends and I did this hike last Monday (5/14). We drove all the way from Denver, leaving around 5 am and arriving at the trailhead at 8 am. It took us about two hours to complete the hike, and let me tell you, it was worth the drive!

With beautiful cascading waterfalls the entire way up to the lake, this is one of the most majestic hikes I have been on. It is pretty much straight uphill after you leave the pavement. And although it is a relatively short hike, the 1200 feet of elevation gain over 1.4 miles made me break a sweat.

The lake itself is magnificent. I wish we would have been there a few hours later when the sunlight could illuminate the brilliantly bright emerald rocks reflecting through the pool, but then the crowds would have been overwhelming.

I think we actually enjoyed Spouting Rock more than the lake itself, as you can go directly behind/beneath it with the three waterfalls cascading down upon you.

Overall this was a magnificent hike that I would love to revisit! As with all SUPER popular hikes in Colorado, it's important to start early if you want to avoid crowds and ensure a spot in the small parking lot below.

beautiful

Wow - what an incredible hike! My only complaint would be that this trail gets very crowded, so if you’re in search of seclusion, you’ll want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, it’s worth the hype! The hike up to the lake is steep but manageable and follows along a stream the whole way. The trail is very well maintained and easy to follow. Once up top, you’re rewarded with a truly unique view. The water cascading into the turquoise hued lake almost makes you forget about the stunning canyon view below. Make sure to continue the short distance past the lake to check out Spouting Rock, a larger waterfall that spouts directly from a cliff face. Even better, you can walk behind the falls to cool off and enjoy the view.

Amazing trail. Nice and steep with a lot of rocky terrain. The waterfalls and the lake were beautiful and well worth the hike. The trail is very well kept up with. I only had to carry out one piece of trash. Highly recommend this trail!!

Beautiful hike first thing in the morning, the trail gets really crowded after 8 AM. If you want a super amazing hike try and get there before sunrise. It’s a great work out first thing in the morning. You have about 1100 feet elevation gain in 1.3 miles. If you want to be one with nature, this is it. The beautiful sounds of the waterfalls throughout the entire hike and mother nature did not disappoint when she made this lake. It is absolutely stunning. Enjoy!

Conditions report as of 5/13: Snowshoes highly recommended. The last 2.5 miles (starting at the pond) is waist deep snow. We did it without snowshoes, but we were post holing a whole lot. Most people without snowshoes gave up and camped in the snow, whereas most people with snowshoes made it all the way to the springs. Campsites are covered in snow, but there are plenty of grass patches if you want to set up camp wherever is convenient.

hiking
8 days ago

Beautiful hike! Make sure to wear sturdy shoes because the incline is covered in rocks going all the way up to Hanging Lake. Recommend lots of water too! Total hike time up to the lake was 40-45 mins on a moderate pace.

road to the trailhead closed on May 12, 2018

A must do in Colorado

hiking
9 days ago

It’s a beautiful trail. We did not make it to the end because there was a lot of snow. Thigh high in places. The runoff was strong and the creek was flowing full force. Made for interesting and wet crossings. We will be back in September.

Great views, but a bit too snowy still too go much farther than 2.5 mile mark. We spent the better part of 90 min post holing. I'll definitely go back in a few weeks to complete this trip!

hiking
10 days ago

Start early if you don't like crowds. Beautiful. Rocky trail, so wear good shoes. We come every year; the scenery all the way up is worth the effort.

Great hike 734 vertical climb 1.2 Miles

hiking
11 days ago

got to trailhead a little after 6. summit by 10:30 in spikes & with plenty of stops. back at car by 1. packed snow all the way to summit. go early and stay on trail (even if it looks like snow has been packed by previous hikers) you will post hole until you want to cry #goats

hiking
11 days ago

Really fun, moderate trail. I went Frisco to Breck. It was a modest gain and definitely doable. As of today, the trail is 80% snow covered. The snow is packed pretty good through the center of the trail, so no snowshoes or yak tracks needed. I brought both with me and didn’t end up using them. You can definitely knock it out with a set of hiking sticks. You’re gonna post hole a couple dozen times, so expect your shoes to get wet. From TH to TH, just under 8 Miles. The snow is gonna slow you down a bit, so plan accordingly. Overall, it was a great hike!! Definitely will do again.

hiking
12 days ago

Did this on 06/25/17. It was my first Fourteener. So took around 4 hours to reach the top. View was amazing. Too icy on the top. Be careful while coming down.

This hike is just amazing. The views are so worth it. The trail itself is rocky and and steep in areas, but nothing our children ages 6, 9, and 13 couldn't handle. Worth the extra climb to Sprouting Rock. The only annoying thing was that even though the signage clearly says "no dogs" people had their dogs on the trail anyway.

The route isn't 3.5 round trip. It's closer to 6-7 if you out and back it.

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful hike. Not too crowded. I severely underestimated how “steep and rocky” this hike was. I read the signs, but my stubborn brain said “it’s only 1.2 miles”, and my stupid fat body was like “yeah you can do it, go on a hike, lose some weight.” Wow. All in all it was a great hike, nice shady trail, gorgeous view at the top. But I just realized how out of shape I am. But if a chubby guy like me can do it, you can too!

Es increíble. Vale la pena. Esperé mucho tiempo para poder hacer el recorrido.

snowshoeing
14 days ago

Stunning beauty with all the snow-covered peaks!! Sunny skies and an occasional breeze. And the trail was about 99% covered in snow, except the very beginning.

We arrived shortly before 7am and a few spots remained in the parking lot. The gate at McCullough Gulch road remains closed and snow drifts block the road. Definitely bring spikes for traction. Snowshoes came in very handy in the afternoon for the last mile down, and we still post-holed in a few spots. Poles are very helpful, too, for balance in the soft snow.

The snow enhanced the beauty but made it more difficult (5 1/2 hrs to summit vs 3 1/2 in the summer). Allow for additional time to descend.

Still, totally worth it for us. Mountain goats, skiers, mountain beauty, snow covered peaks, and even those who parachuted off the mountain. Fantastic day!! Wouldn't trade.

Ascended 5-5-18 as my first 14er! Started hiking just after 6, and a lot of people were also beginning then. Made it back to the car at 12:30. We took our time and took two 20 minute breaks, one before the last 1000 feet and one at the peak. This trail is certainly difficult, and the altitude affected hikers on the trail. Some would say anyone could complete this, but I’d probably advise against that if you don’t have a cardio routine and haven’t acclimated.
The trail was snow the the entire way up, we brought snowshoes but didn’t use them. Although, on the descent, we post-holed enough that we should have put them on. We wore spikes the entire time which I highly recommend! Overall, the best experience I could have ever asked for for my first 14er!

hiking
15 days ago

Got there at 7:30a on a Sunday, not a lot of cars there. I’m from Michigan and did not prepare myself physically like I should have and took a good amount of breaks on the way up, but it was so worth it. Took probably way too many pictures but the views were too good to not capture them!

hiking
16 days ago

I hiked Quandary this morning (5/5 6a-noon), so here are a few tidbits that I thought would be helpful.

- The trail is 95% snow-packed from bottom to top. Only a bit of rocky dirt trail at the beginning and slush there as the weather warms up.
- I only wore hiking boots. I would not recommend this! To be honest, the only reason I didn't wear microspikes is because REI didn't have the color microspkes I wanted (... I know I know). I made it up/down without issue, but I watched my footing very carefully (especially over the icy spots and the last steep 1000 feet) and even then slipped 5-6 times. It was also rough on my ankles since I had to keep digging my boots into the hard snow.
- Microspikes are all you need. My friends wore microspikes and did great. There was an equal mix of microspikers and skiiers. Very few people were snowshoeing.
- I never use hiking poles but the vast majority of people had them and I hear they're very helpful.
- My friends and I hiked down, but most people skiied down. Very few were snowshoeing.

Hope that's helpful. The weather was fantastic so get out there tomorrow if you can!

hiking
17 days ago

beautiful. Got there 4/21 at 8:30am and the parking lot was about 3/4 full. It was completely full when we got back down around 11am. moderate hike that felt like stairs most of the way up. Had snowed the previous day so it was quite muddy with the snow melting but otherwise a beautiful hike. trail is easy to follow, there are a few narrow segments where it would be difficult to pass people.

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