Explore the most popular nature trips trails near Red Cliff with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

3 days ago

First off, if you plan on driving the road...it is rough. I'd really recommend high clearance. We did it in a Tacoma with added suspension 4X4 and it was still pretty slow going as the road is very rocky, very narrow and steep in places.

That being said, the lake is gorgeous and you can hike the road if you don't want to drive it. This is probably what we'd do next time. We hauled our stuff in and camped at the lake. Most of the other groups camped by their cars at the top of the road, so you can do that as well.

There was a lot of broken glass where groups had camped by the lake, which was a bummer, especially having so many dogs around. We tried to clean up what we saw, but it some places it looked like people were actually shooting glass bottles, so be careful when walking around!

All-in-all a nice lake...very pretty, but for those seeking a bit more solitude, I'd go elsewhere--since you are able to drive to the top there were a lot of big groups, ton of off-leash dogs, etc. But if you want somewhere to bring a paddle board, pack raft, with the family that isn't an off-the-highway kind of place, this lake is the place!

Showed up at 10am on Friday to an insanely packed trailhead. The trail is beautiful itself and wooded most of the way, and the views at the lake and grassy areas made the destination worth hanging out for awhile. Saw at least 15 groups of backpackers headed in to camp/do the Missouri/Fancy Lake though. Great hike overall, only 4 stars because it was verrry crowded.

Tough and beautiful - worth every step!

7 days ago

Hike and mountain scenery is pleasant however the 10 mile long forest road filed with Rental Vehicles driving like pricks and the Denver crowd flocking to the trail with Bluetooth Speakers and trash everywhere make for an overall unpleasant experience.

Probably the most beautiful hike in Colorado. Waterfalls, wildflowers, about 10 lakes, fabulous views and incredible rock formations. By the times you hike around the lakes you’ll probably hike around 12 to 13 miles. I recommend taking trekking sticks as there are some steeper rocks to climb over.

14 days ago

Can’t say a lot about the trail. I loved what I saw , but after a mile in , in the drizzling rain it started lightning!! So , this will have to wait until a better day!

15 days ago

There is just one "Fancy Lake." The trail to it is about 2.6 miles with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. (The contours on these maps are confusing because the contour interval is 10 meters (about 33 feet) whereas every fifth contour is labelled with the elevation in feet.) The first 1.5 mile passes through pine forest before some meadows with wildflowers start to appear. This part is moderately difficult.

The trail from the lake to Fancy Pass gains about 870 feet in 0.7 mile, of which the last half is especially steep and difficult. In particular, it is easy to miss where the trail jogs to the right, and climb up a natural rock chute that was used for dropping mine tailings to a lower elevation. The trail is difficult enough, but the mining chute still has loose tailings in it and is worse. It is hard to appreciate the scenery while focusing on your footing, but as others have said, the view from the pass -- particularly to the north down the valley of Cross Creek -- is spectacular.

Most people who get to Fancy Pass continue to Missouri Pass and return to the trailhead by way of the Missouri Lakes Trail, which starts at the same parking area. I think that that route has better alpine scenery with less extremely difficult trail conditions than the Fancy Pass Trail described here.

This is a really nice trail with great views, beautiful forest and waterfalls on the way up. Views at the lakes are nice. Great day in the hills!

Such a beautiful hike up, and of course amazing lake at the top. Good workout too!

23 days ago

This trail is filled with incredible beauty. The wild flowers during the summer are a very nice touch. The fishing in the upper lake was great. Overall excellent trail for family.

This hike is approx 8.5 miles (depending on length of side excursions for lunch and bathroom breaks). I used mapping software to calculate mileage before we went and used GAIA GPS to track our trail on the hike. Also, I’ve been hiking for years and know my pace, if this route is 12 miles then I would’ve had to run the whole way to finish in the time I did. There is a spot close to Fancy Lake that confuses people and if you take the wrong path you may end up hiking 12 miles but not if you follow the track above. Fitbits are not accurate in mountain terrain.
It was a beautiful hike. We did it clockwise. I recommend hiking clockwise so that the elevation gain happens more slowly. If doing it in that direction be aware that the trail splits at Fancy Lake and if you go left towards Holy Cross City you’ll be adding a lot of mileage and eventually hiking on 4x4 tracks instead of a trail. Instead turn right at the split and head straight to the lake, the trail back to the trailhead heads downhill from the lake.

went up on 7/23 it was absolutely gorgeous. the wildflowers were peaking. there were not many people on trail. we encountered a bit of rain, but it wasn't too bad. the only thing i will say is the mileage on this site is incorrect. it is 8.9 miles there and back. well worth it.

off road driving
26 days ago

Very fun trail with a few challenges to make it exciting. There are a few big rocks to go over or squeeze by. We scraped once. Very narrow with lots of tree branches in places if you’re worried about scratches. We were on the trail for a couple hours before it started to get dark and we turned around. There’s a point when you get out of the creek and into more open areas with views. Looks like it would be a great place to have lunch or camp(if allowed).

Be careful of the soft shoulder in a few places where the water is running parallel to the trail. It is covered by vegetation and there is a big rock on trail that you have go around.

08 2dr JK
3” lift
35” tires
Disconnected sway bar

28 days ago

I’ve lived in CO for 5 years and this one of the best hikes I’ve done here! We choose to backpack to the biggest of the Missouri Lakes below Missouri Pass and camp on the northeastern side; bit of a challenge going up the trail with full packs but worth every minute.

The trout are incredibly active right now and the water was chilly but great for the hot day. Make sure to bring bathing suit, something to float on the lake with, a hammock, and filtration pump!

29 days ago

Lovely trail, switchbacks and woodsy with Fancy Lake and Notch Mountain greeting you at the top!

29 days ago

Amazing trail with a lot of water features along the way. One of my favorite hikes ever. And not very busy at all - huge perk.

Beautiful trail that runs along a babbling creek about 50% of the time. Lots of shade along the way. This is a challenging trail on the way, mostly uphill the whole time. The lake is gorgeous and well worth the effort. For me, it was 4 hours up, camped and woke up to a pristine setting, and 2.45 hours back down.

Amazing wild flowers. Good fishing (gorgeous brookies on an ant). Great family hike-bit of a challenge, but worth it.

The hike up was challenging for us as we had come from MN flat just 2 days prior, and we had packs and gear. The views from the Missouri Lakes area are fantastic!. Trail is good.

We were going to go up and around Fancy Pass the next morning, but just as we set out the rain started...so, decided to not climb another 1,000+ feet above the treeline in the rain.

For a beautiful Saturday in July, it was hard to find a good camping spot as there were about 10+ groups already set up when we got to the upper lake in early afternoon. Parking was tight at the bottom.

This is a great, great area. Loved it!

This was pretty strenuous for me compared to most non-14er Colorado hikes. The final stretch up the Fancy Pass side can take it out of you, but what a reward at the top. Definitely pair it with the Missouri Lakes trail to make the 8 mile loop. You get to walk along side beautiful lakes for 2 miles and it’s not harder at all on that side, just a bit longer.

on Shrine Pass Road

scenic driving
1 month ago

For years now I have thoroughly enjoyed driving Shrine Pass. The wildflowers and wildlife are always amazing. Love the marmots! Saw two alive and one dead - road kill. Watch out for our little furry friends. LOTS of people. Probably the most crowded that I have ever seen it at the top. Please remember to leash your dogs for their safety and yours. Several bags of dog poop left alongside the trail. Rather unfortunate for such a beautiful place. Wish my fellow pet owners would be more responsible and pack it out with them if they are 'packing their dogs in'. Lovely place to visit!

1 month ago

This is a very easy, pleasurable hike. The incline is so gentle that you barely notice it. There are many little "Missouri Lakes" that are off trail. I used GPS and began with the first one directly West of the trail. I hit small 4 smaller lakes before finding the large main one and did not see another person. They were very peaceful and worth the effort in my opinion. But it will definitely add on time to your overall trek, so keep that in mind when planning your time to descend for storms. From what I can tell, there are 14 other small Misouri lakes outside of the main upper and lower Missouri Lakes. The trail was all clear with minimal mud in some spots. Lots of water flowing, so a filter works fine for this hike. Waterflowers abundant and marmots at play.

1 month ago

Beautiful hike, June 20-26th range. Moderate inclines at points but nothing too hard for a novice or moderate hiker. Fish bite almost anything at the lakes.

1 month ago

Did the Fancy pass trail and finished the loop with Missouri lakes/pass. It is a fairly difficult hike with a pack but well worth it as the views and flowers are amazing. Also worth bringing a fishing rod as the brook trout up there are very beautiful. only thing is definitely bring bug spray as there are a good amount of mosquitoes around the lakes.

1 month ago

This was a beautiful hike! Steady incline at the beginning leading to a beautiful lake at the top where the huts are. My hiking partner and I plan to return in the Fall to hike up and stay in one of the huts. We took the trail leading around the lake on the way down. We went in July on a 90+ degree day but started early. Despite high humidity bugs were not a nuisance.i highly recommended for anyone that hikes moderate trails. Scenic views and wildlife (we saw a doe under the main hut! 歷.

Beautiful hike! Our group backpacked through Missouri Lakes and over Missouri Pass and camped at about 12K ft the first day. We didn't encounter any animals probably because we were above the tree line. The 2nd day we hiked over Fancy Pass and continued the Loop by Fancy Lake. This route made it easier the 2nd day. The hike was very challenging to backpack with elevation gain and added weight, but definitely worth the trip! The higher you go, the less people you see and most people camp around Upper Missouri Lake. Bring lots of water and sunscreen!

Also the whole loop was definitely closer to 12 miles like everyone else said.

1 month ago

Phenomenal trail. It was lush and green, with tons of wildflowers in bloom. Slide Lake it self is gorgeous. You can walk this entire trail, or you can drive almost all of it. The road is rough and you'll need a vehicle with a bit of clearance (stock SUV should be fine if you go slowly). There's a set of campsites where the road ends and you can take the trail 15 mins or so past that to reach the lake.

1 month ago

Great scenic drive, hardly any other cars during the week. I have an SUV no problems. There were some ruts and I would be nervous in a little car with low clearance when you get to the red cliff side.

Beautiful views. Great hike!

Absolutely phenomenal adventure. I went in June 26-28, and it was chock full of wildflowers, and gorgeous snow patterns. With some small detours, I hiked to the summit of the pass to Treasure Trove lake with no snow crossings. I'm a landscape plein air painter, and made this video of the adventure, don't worry, it's short, and fun.

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