Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:46 pm

10 days in to my trip (and first chance to login (while doing laundry)) and wanted to give another quick note of thanks.
Columbine Lake was very pretty and am greatful for the suggestion (though the initial hike to the ridge was blah and huff-and-puff) - there were still some snow patches near the lake a week ago and I ended up doing a non-trail route to the lake due to a patch. I may even make a repeat visit to the lake at the end of my trip.
The road-walk to Clear Lake was also worth doing (though if you have a 4wd vehicle, just use that).
After having done those 2 and the always stunning Ice Lake, I wasn't impressed with Copper Lake (Crested Butte) - probably hurt by comparison as the lake was pretty from above, just not lakeside. But I continued on to East Maroon Pass (1/2 mile ahead and not a hard up) and was very glad I did so as the views were wonderful 360 degrees (going off trail a little up to the right).

As for the 14ers, Handies remains my favorite so far - the flowers were in full bloom. I did it as a loop and still think that the Grizzly Gultch route is prettier than the American Basin. I could do without that tedious long dirt road drive (I'm in a sedan) to San Luis Peak, but did see a beaver along the hike, so that was neat. I couldn't find the route between Mt Shavano and Tabequache Peak (and I looked and looked and looked) and ended up watching the marmots at the peak for 30 minutes before heading back - probably a good thing I turned around as it rained (not stormed) 1:30 later and I would have still been somewhere on traverse and that wouldn't have been fun to do when wet. Mt Princeton was just a trudge (started from the bottom) and I couldn't believe how long it took me to summit - there is so much rocky sections that was just slow going both ways. 6 14ers done on this trip so far and a ton to go (my goal is 20 - I know there is more listed on my itinary, but I knew going in that some would be tossed aside for various reasons).

If you are bored or interested, I am doing a trip report (my mom loves them) that you can see at

(probably won't be online again for a while)
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby Chicago Transplant » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:59 am

I was up around Highland Mary Lakes outside of Silverton this past weekend and have to say they are quite impressive. Its a nice collection of about 7 lakes near treeline that on Saturday morning were perfectly smooth and great for reflection pictures. 2WD can probably make it all the way to the trailhead, if not there is a good place to park about 1/2 mile or so short of the true trailhead. The lakes are barely 2 miles in, so even with the lower parking its a short hike. Highly recommended, and if you are going to Ice Lakes anyway, it will be right in the neighborhood...

Here is a teaser of one of the smaller lakes, the others are even better, but you have to hike to see those :wink:

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby rijaca » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:45 pm

del_sur wrote:Lake Hope, outside of Telluride, lies both above Trout Lake and on the other side of the ridge from the Ice Lakes Basin. It's easily accessible in a 2wd, just off CO 145, and the hike is easy.
I just got new photo software (Aperture). Once I figure out how to resize my shots of this, I'll post them.

Good suggestion Matt!

Lake Hope with Vermillion Peak...
Vermillion-LakeHope.small.JPG (79.16 KiB) Viewed 981 times

The wild flowers were outstanding this past Friday...
Flowers.small.JPG (166.51 KiB) Viewed 982 times
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:47 pm

I think I had Lake Hope pencilled in, but with that picture I'll have to change it to pen.
I did do the Highland Mary Lakes 2 years ago - I think the problem was I did them the day after I did Ice Lake (which is one of my top 10 all time favorite places - maybe even 3rd) - and wasn't too impressed.

For my trip update, some questionable weather sent me to Aspen to do some lake hikes. Cathedral Lake was very pretty. American Lake was okay for a poor weather outing, but only if Cathedral has already been done. Capitol Lake was a long hike, but very pretty - be aware that you either park in the signed lower lot or drive up the steep dirt road for 2 miles to the parking area (couple of disperse camping spots just before that) as there are NO pulloffs before that (the road was muddy and I made it about a mile up before turning around). There is also a dead cow just off the trail past the lake-ditch junction (eeewww). I got rained out 5 miles in to my first attempt at Snowmass Lake (rained on for .5 miles and then turned around and rained on for another 2 hours and the valley had a low cloud sitting on it). On my hike to Capitol Lake, a member of a group that saw me on my failed attempt told me that Snowmass Lake was really pretty and I should try again. So I did and was really glad that I did as it is just beautiful - my 3rd favorite lake of the trip thus far (behind Columbine and Ice Lakes). Back in the Colligates, poor weather kept me off Huron Peak (did it the next day) and I wandered the road walk and ended up on the trail to Lake Ann and eventually made it to the lake (hiding under evergreens during the 4 20 minutes rain showers) - a very pleasant surprise and I highly recommend taking an extra day to do that hike if you plan on doing Huron Peak. Or at least walk up the trail (shares the trailhead with Huron) about 20 minutes to an open meadow and a grand view of the Three Apostles peaks.

For the 14ers, I'm up to 9 this trip with Yale, Huron, and the nasty Castle Peak. If I knew it was going to be that rough and have a snow climb, I won't have done it - but I did. The views from the peak were grand, though. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I'll be able to do Belford-Oxford and Missouri the next 2 days.

part 2 of my trip report is at

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby jrsummit » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:00 pm

I was just checking out your website and reports and just had to say you are awesome. Keep it up.
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby tmathews » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:16 pm

+1 for Ice Lake Basin. I was up there a few years ago on a cloudy day. I can only imagine how beautiful it is on a clear day!

Lower Ice Lake
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby Scott P » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:33 pm

Mica Lake and Dome Lake in the Park Range are both really nice.

In the Gore Range, Cataract Lake is a good one. There are many good lakes in the Gores.
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:42 pm

Mostly 14ers since lasting posting - Belford+Oxford, Missouri, Holy Cross (2nd prettiest, but a long day hike), the quad (in the clouds), Grays+Torreys, and, on August 4th exactly a month after I left, Bierstadt to be my 20th of the trip! Though I wish I had known that the pass from the north was closed as it meant an over 100 mile detour to reach the trailhead from the south. I do have 3 more 14ers possible with Humbolt, Challenger, and Blanca. Tossed aside Longs (didn't want to get up at 2 am and still don't think I can handle the area past the Keyhole and the Homestretch) and Snuffels (someone described the slot area and I don't think my fear of heights will let me do that - I will be going to the Blue Lakes from the west, though). [Someone else described the Knife Edge of Capitol Peak and gave me nightmares.]

For the lakes, the Tuhares were pretty - I liked the lower much better than the upper (and don't bother with the pass - the view is pretty, but not worth all the effort it takes to reach it). I enjoyed Cascade Creek and both Crater and Pawnee Lakes - I couldn't tell you which one I liked more - both are worth a visit. In RMN, I went to Lawn Lake (okay) and then up to the Crystal Lakes - very pretty and I was surprised I was there by myself on a pretty Saturday (well, the clouds came during the hour I was there, but it was blue skies until then) - guess most people aren't up to a 7.7 miles hike to the lakes. Did the mandatory Dream Lake this morning (my favorite in the park) and went to Lake Hai... in hoping the clouds would move some off the peaks. It had been a while since I'd been to Lake Hai... and was glad I did as there were clouds hanging on the peaks and area between them and I had a stunning rainbow over the lake. Just awesome. I went up Flattop Mountain (windy and cold) and then grabbed a cold slice of pizza and went back to Dream Lake. Someone from the Lawn Lake hike recommended Bluebird Lake, so I'll try that tomorrow (decided to skip the Hessie area, which I've done before).

part 3 of my trip report (sans pictures) is at

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:37 pm

Done with my 14ers for the trip as I did Blanca (yes!) yesterday and Challenger (yuck!) on Friday. So that was 22 14ers on my little about 7 week trip (1st 14er on 7/10 22nd on 8/15).

For the mountain lakes, I absolutely loved Willow Lake and wished that I had just spent the day there instead of going up Challenger (sure, didn't help that I went the wrong way and wasn't on the standard route, but went down the standard route and that was icky too). The lake is definitely worth a visit by itself. The lakes and ponds along the Blanca route were nice, but not worth visiting (or hiking or driving "the nasty Lake Como Road") just for the lakes (Crater was the prettiest, Como was average). I visited a number of the lakes from the East Portal for the Moffat trail tunnel - the Forest Lakes were pretty (note that they re-did the trails at some point and my map reflected the old routes - I couldn't find the Arapaho Lakes junction and missed them); the Crater Lakes were a lot of work for not stunning lakes; I liked the Rogers Lakes and Heart Lake was pretty from above (went up to Rogers Pass) - not stunning lakes, but you can hike to a ton of them in a day or two and they are easy access for those in Boulder and Denver. Bluebird Lake in the southeast edge of Rocky Mountain National Park was pretty, but the weather didn't let me stay long - lot of people early in the hike, but very few went past the falls.

Up next is 3 hikes near Telluride and then repeats of Columbine and Ice Lake (and maybe another hike) near Silverton as my trip winds down.

part 4 of my trip report is at http://www.eskimo.com/~pbender/hikes/sum10trip.html

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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby pbender » Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:06 pm

I'm back from what ended up being an 8 week trip (wow). Since my last posting, it was pure lake hikes (with Blanca being my last 14er). Lake Hope was definitely beautiful and worth the hike (though my car didn't appreciate the drive to the trailhead) - thanks much for that recommendation. I wasn't too fond of Blue Lake near Telluride due to all the junk in the lake area, it could be beautiful if some time and effort was made to clean up the area, and didn't do Silver Lake due to weather concerns. But the Lower Blue Lake in the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness was wonderful. The lower lake made the middle and upper lakes look like nothing exciting. I repeated the hikes for Columbine Lake and Ice Lake near Silverton, and those were stunning even without the wildflowers (which were out of bloom). I did the hike to Crater Lake from Anderson Lake south of Silverton and that wasn't worth the time and effort it took to reach it. I also repeated the hike to Willow Lake (to spend time there instead of the up to Challenger Point). All in all, a great trip.

For the lake hikes, my top 5 from this trip would be:
Ice Lake (Silverton)
Columbine Lake (Red Mountain area, Silverton)
Lower Blue Lake (Mt Sneffels Wilderness, Ridgway)
Snowmass Lake (Snowmass/Aspen)
Willow Lake (Crestone)

Of all the 14ers I've done, my 3 favorites are (excluding Whitney in California):
Handies Peak, as a loop (up Grizzly Gulch down American Basin)
Mt of the Holy Cross
La Plata Peak

My 3 least favorite are:
Challenger Point
Castle Peak
Mt Princeton

Thanks again for all the suggestions! Hi to anyone I spoke with while on the trip and a special "Hey!" to the guy who said, "Hi, Patricia" while passing me on Huron Peak!

part 5 of my trip report is at http://www.eskimo.com/~pbender/hikes/sum10trip.html

Happy hiking!
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Re: Favorite day hikes/mountain lakes

Postby barbiesue53 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:06 am

9 Lakes RMNP. July 17 turned out to be a great day for the following lakes. I started at Bear Lake and took the fire trail to Nymph Lake. A sweet short walk to Dream Lake and then a side trail to Emerald Lake. From Dream Lake the trail splits off to Lake Haiyaha. What a great resting spot and I was so lucky to have the lake to myself for my rest time. I took the unimproved trail to the Glacier Gorge Trail and about one quarter mile prior to the trail you come across a small lake that is not named on the RMNP trail map. Trees surround it with a small island in it's center. Once on the Glacier Gorge Trail I continued to The Loch followed by a nice cool spray from Timberline Falls. Up the small draw and onto Lake of Glass. WOW!!! The views are always so outstanding and the cool breezes are always so welcome. A little farther on the trail and I came to Sky Pond. Snack, water, some good sun and the sounds of climbers on Sharks's Tooth. Met some wonderful folks on the return trail and the walk back seemed to go so quick. What an awesome day!! :D

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