Willow and Salmon Lakes

September 2, 2017 · Eagles Nest Wilderness

The hike to Willow Lakes and Salmon Lakes is a long hike no matter how you dice it. I started at the Mesa Cortina trailhead which adds about five miles to the hike, clocking in at 21.2 miles roundtrip. For some reason I decided to do this a day hike, making for a very long day, almost 12 hours to the minute.

The first / last six miles are very easy and go very fast. The beetle kill from the trailhead to about 11,200 feet is staggering. Once above 11,200 feet everything about the forest becomes very healthy and very green, it's very pretty from there onto the lakes.

There are several lakes in the Willow Lakes and Salmon Lakes chains, though they are rimmed with boulders making it difficult to get to some of them. There was a very light breeze for most of the day, making the surface of most of the lakes look like glass, giving the two skies effect; it was very pretty and very peaceful.

This hike makes more sense as a two-day event, and you're in Eagles Nest Wilderness, so dispersed camping rules apply. Even though this was a long day-hike, it was a pretty hike, the views are worth the trek. Checkout my GPS tracks here.


SIMILAR TRAILS

Flattop Mountain

June 10, 2018 · The 2018 Hiking Season has officially begun! Hooray! Though, given what I saw on this first hike, it could have probably started a couple of weeks ago. They said they had a light winter in the mountains this year and they are right. I use Flattop Mountain in RMNP to restart the s...

Mills Lake, Jewel Lake & Black Lake

June 28, 2014 · The hike to Mills Lake, Jewel Lake and Black Lake is full of amazing panoramic views. The views look like postcards. Mills Lake and Jewel Lake are fairly easy to get to. Black Lake is a bit more challenging. Once at Black Lake the racing clouds made the peaks surrounding Black La...

Flattop Mountain

August 30, 2014 · Flattop Mountain is a staple for me. It's a good hike start the season out as it gives you an idea of how much snow is left and it is a great hike in late summer as well. When the weather cooperates, the panoramic views of both the east and west sides of RMNP are breathtaking.

AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness9
Eagles Nest Wilderness10
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness12
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness3
Indian Peaks Wilderness17
James Peak Wilderness1
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness2
Pike National Forest1
Raggeds Wilderness1
Rocky Mountain National Park41
San Isabel National Forest6
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness1
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

TRAILS BY MONTH

January3
February2
March2
April3
May5
June16
July26
August26
September27
October5
November4
December3

SEASONS ON THE TRAIL

2021

The 2021 Season has started. Though the pandemic created a challenging 2020 season, I am looking forward to building on the 2020 season to create an incredible 2021 season. The pandemic has taught me a few things about when and where to go hiking. As such planning for the 2021 se...

2020

The 2020 hiking season has been incredible, even in the face of adversity. The pandemic has made for a logistically challenging season. Somehow, I was still able to piece together an incredible 230+ miles on the trail this season and able to see some truly spectacular places. Enj...

2019

The 2019 hiking season was an interesting season, this was the first season that I started and ended the season snowshoeing and a full summer of hiking for a total of just under 225 miles on the trail. What this season has taught me is that it's winter in the mountains for a long...

2018

The 2018 Summer Hiking Season has come to an end. What a season, incredible views and just over 230 miles on the trail. Even with 230 miles, this season seems short to me, perhaps I'll add something to it during the winter season - snowshoeing perhaps. In the meantime, I hope you...

2017

The 2017 hiking season was interesting, I was able to explorer more of Colorado's National Forests and get in some camping, not as much camping as I would have liked, but hopefully next year I'll able to get in more multi-day hikes. This season came in just under 129 miles roundt...

2016

The 2016 hiking season was about spreading out and exploring more of Eagles Nest Wilderness, Indian Peaks Wilderness and touching on White River National Forest - and of course a few trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. These are amazing National treasures. This season came i...

2015

The 2015 hiking season was a big hiking season, I decided to do a fundraiser for The Red Cross (I learned a lot about fundraising - it was very interesting) with my pledge to hike over 200 miles for this season, I came in at 217 miles for the season; what a great time out on the ...

2014

The 2014 hiking season was almost all about exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, it really is a beautiful park. What I learned during the course of this hiking season is, although people may roll their eyes when you say you're going on a hike in RMNP, it really is spectacular ...

2013

2013 is the year this all started. The hike to Pitkin Lake started it all. Although it was a difficult trail, I was hooked immediately. However, I didn't have the right gear and the seasons were changing quickly. So, even though this season only brought two hikes, I new this was ...