Upper Cataract Lake Trail

MODERATE 19 reviews
#9 of 22 trails in

Upper Cataract Lake Trail is a 10.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Silverthorne, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.2 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2585 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

snow

Start at surprise trail. Go past surprise lake. Keep going until you come to Cat lake. Seen from the top of trail. Then keep going on short trail to Upper Cataract Lake.

backpacking
27 days 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

Easy and quiet in beautiful CO

hiking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month 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.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

backpacking
2 months ago

Just got back from backpacking to Upper Cataract Lake. It was stunning. Long, steady uphill until the last half mile when you drop down to the lake. We had two different GPSs that both measured the distance to the Surprise Lake junction as 2.8 miles from the TH, not 2.4 as the topo map shows. We thought we had missed it until we met someone coming down. The first 1.5 miles of trail is filled with wild flowers right now! The trail from Surprise Lake to Upper Cataract is an obstacle course of mud holes and downed trees to navigate over or around (I counted 49 of them) but well worth it. A few small snow patches to cross but nothing dangerous. The west shore of the lake is a boggy mess with all the melting snow so camp spots are somewhat limited right now but we found a great one right near the outflow and a small reflection pond.

hiking
2 months ago

3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

6/10. Trail up to Surprise Lake is just fine, but the trail leading to Upper Cataract Lake is still snowy as shit. Most of it is compacted so its doable without snowshoes, just a bit more tiring. Had to follow footsteps in the snow and at times was a bit tricky sticking to the trail.

When you get to Cat Lake, the trail leading down to it is completely covered in snow. You will have to climb down the steep snow bank, or just slide down it... but climbing back up sucks hard. There's still a lot of snow around Cat Lake and its a bit marshy, but there are some nice spots to camp out

Snow around Upper Cataract Lake hasn't fully melted either, so camping spots may be limited on weekends.

I hiked up Sat night and came down Monday afternoon. The snow melt between those few days was noticeable. Expect it to be more muddy and slushy in the upcoming week.

hiking
11 months ago

I'm a local, grew up 5 mins away from the trail. I LOVE it. It steep until you get to Surprise Lake. At the end it's a little tricky. You will see a lake and think you made it, but its Cat Lake. I do recall a sign that was there explaining it. Go further up and you will find upper Cataract. There are camping spots around the lake and it's the at the base of Eagle's Nest (Most locals call it Sleeping Indian). An Awesome view the whole way up!!

Sunday, September 04, 2016

The best. Steep at first in a washed out gully-trail. Flattens out at surprise lake. Upper cataract is breathtaking.

hiking
Sunday, September 04, 2016

Sunday, September 04, 2016

hiking
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

hiking
Sunday, July 10, 2016

I loved this hike! It starts out through 2 meadows with aspens and beautiful wildflowers. The first 2.5 miles is a long, steep grind until you get to Surprise Lake. But then things get a little easier. My dog loved all the creek crossings.

I took a star away for two reasons:
1. It was poorly marked. I met 2 other groups at a trail marker near Cat Lake. There was NO mention of Upper Cataract Lake. (just so you know, continue walking straight beyond the spur).
2. This is more of a complaint with Alltrails.com. The site said this hike is dog-friendly. There was NO mention that leashes are required.

hiking
Monday, July 20, 2015

Take bug spray ,alot of mosquitos when we went. Crossing alot of creeks, and ponds. 7-22-2005