Roosevelt Lakes
~Arapaho National Forest~

The hike to Roosevelt Lakes and Beartrack Lakes in Arapaho National Forest, technically these lakes are in the Mount Evans Wilderness, is an interesting hike, and deceptively long. For me this turned out to be a 14.5 mile roundtrip hike. This is basically the headwaters for Bear Creek, and is aptly named, I did see a black bear about a half hour from the trailhead; it was a cub black bear. The bear was relatively close, it was about the length of a semi-tractor truck and trailer away from me.

When I saw the bear emerge from the trees along the side of the road several things went through my mind all at once: 1) Oh, a bear, 2) roll up the windows it's kind of close, 3) that's a small bear - that's a cub, the mama bear must be close, where is she? 4) and where is my camera? By the time all of this finally registered, and I found my phone the bear had bolted up the other side of the ridge and was already at the top of ridge, they are quick.

The weather was perfect for this hike. For much of the summer hiking season there has been a haze in the air from either Colorado wildfires or from wildfires from California. So, it was a lucky break to have such a clear blue sky and a light breeze on this hike.

The hike begins in a burn scar from a previous wildfire, though this burn scar has begun to heal and there is green groundcover and trees are beginning to come back, though most are not taller than 15-20 feet tall, so they have a ways to go. The trail continues into a thick healthy canopy of pine though there is evidence of fire here as well, in addition to the after affects of a fire - downed trees from washout and mud slides from rain.

The trail opens up to a wide valley and the backside of Mount Evans is visible up to Beartrack Lakes. You can see the infamous Mount Evans road to the observatory at the top of Mount Evans. It's interesting to see a part of Mount Evans that you normally don't get to see when driving to the peak of Mount Evans.

Beartrack Lakes sits on the floor of a wide bowl with a spectacular backdrop rimmed by the backside of Mount Evans and Rosaline Peak. Alpine Summers are short and the rivers are running low now and there are signs of rust in the grasses around the lake. It was very peaceful there, I only saw four people in two separate camps at the lake.

The push onto Roosevelt Lakes skirts the treeline, just above the treeline. Again there are amazing views of the backside of Mount Evans. Before Roosevelt Lakes come into view the ridgeline of Pegmatite Points comes into view, you get the sense you are the roof of the world as you are above treeline as a barren peak comes into view.

The trail drops quickly down to Roosevelt Lakes. There are two small lakes that sit in a narrow bowl rimed by Rosaline Peak and Pegmatite Points. There were four people at this lake but it's spread out enough that you feel like you have the lakes and the valley bowl to yourself. The weather was perfect for the altitude, a light breeze and a few small white clouds racing by. The lakes here too are low and you can walk across the lake outlets without getting wet. I did see two Trout in the lake, darting around in their ever-shrinking summer swimming hole.

There was also a Traveling Gnome spotting. I always forget that I have him with me on each hike, but managed to take time out on the return trip to get his picture with Mount Evans in the background. It was a beautiful day and got this trail in just in time, as the trailhead in the Mount Evans Wilderness closes right after Labor Day. Check out my GPS tracks here.

August 12, 2018