Eagle Lake Trail

August 3, 2019 · Holy Cross Wilderness

The hike along Eagle Lake Trail was an interesting one. I was supposed to be a much longer hike to Strawberry Lake, but I had to cut it short just shy of Halfmoon Lake, just above Eagle Lake. The weather for this much shorter than planned hike was fantastic and very warm. There were several big white clouds, but a mild breeze kept pushing the clouds around. It was never too overcast, and the clouds added texture to the incredible views of southern side of Fools Peak and Eagle Peak.

The documented trail for Eagle Lake trail goes to Eagle Lake and stops there. However, there are several maps that shows an undocumented trail continuing onto Strawberry Lake, just below Eagle Peak in the Holy Cross Wilderness. This trail is very remote and takes a couple of hours driving on a Forest Service dirt road. As such, I was expecting to have the trail to myself. However, this is the last couple of weeks before school starts again so there are number of families and friends getting that last Summer camping in before school starts; there were a lot of people camping at Eagle Lake.

The trail starts out with a very gentle stroll through an Aspen grove and is very humid and the foliage looks more tropical than alpine.

The flowers are in full bloom and there are birds singing and darting in and out of the shrubs up until the Aspen grove boundary. Up until the Wilderness boundary, there is some private property that appears to be a retreat / dude ranch, and they have put up barbed wire along their property line, which is right next to the trail. So that makes the trek up to the Wilderness boundary a little strange. However, once at the Wilderness boundary the trail takes on a completely different personality.

Prior to the Wilderness boundary it is primarily an Aspen grove, tropical in nature and very humid. Once at the Wilderness boundary, it dries out, cools down and the foliage changes to more familiar alpine foliage of conifers and shrub. Additionally, at the Wilderness boundary, the first of three river crossings occur, and the trail becomes very steep.

The river that comes down from Strawberry Lake to Eagle Lake is called Lime Creek but is anything but a creek. And that could be due to the epic snow that we had this year. Eagle Lake offers incredible views of Fools Peak and Eagle Peak in the Holy Cross Wilderness and the walls of the valley are very steep. The steep V-shaped valley coupled with the massive amounts of snow from this past year created some enormous avalanches just beyond Eagle Lake. The snow from the avalanches is gone in this valley. Well, the snow on the top of the avalanche debris fields is gone, but there is still a significant amount of snow under the exposed avalanche debris fields.

The official trail ends at Eagle Lake and the undocumented trail picks up from there and continues to Strawberry Lake. However, the avalanches from this winter have buried the trail with several feet of debris ranging from mangled trees to jumbled boulders that were caught up in the avalanches.

Because this is an undocumented trail inside of a Wilderness Area, it is a low priority for the Forest Service to clear the trail of the avalanche debris. The trail to Strawberry Lake will most likely remained closed until a people begin to develop a new trail to Strawberry Lake, working its way around the avalanche debris fields.

I worked my way around the first avalanche debris field, only after going to high and ending up on series of ledges above the debris field. Realizing that was probably a good way to accidently fall down the side of the mountain, I worked my way back down and trough the first avalanche debris field. The second avalanche field was not more than five minutes away from the first and was much bigger.

Again, I tried to work my around the top of it and ended up in some thick conifers. It was here that I had an injury that required some impromptu first aid to stop some bleeding from a two-inch cut on my left arm.

After taking care of the injury and now somewhere in the middle of the second avalanche debris field I stopped for lunch and assessed the situation and determined that there would be more of these types of avalanche debris fields covering the rest of the trail to Strawberry Lake and decided that this was far enough.

Even though this hike was much shorter than I had anticipated, it still came in at a healthy 7.4 miles roundtrip, and the weather could not have been better. On the drive out of this remote area I did catch some spectacular views of the Sawatch Range in the Holy Cross Wilderness. There are a few campsites in this area that would offer incredible views of the Range in the morning and the evening. Given the remoteness of this trail, I’m not surprised I didn’t make it to Strawberry Lake, but what I did get to see was fantastic.


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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 ...