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blueBlack Upper Slate Lake

  4.7 ( 9 )

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22.7 mile 36.5 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 4,091' 1,247 m
Descent: -4,091' -1,247 m
High: 10,896' 3,321 m
Low: 9,071' 2,765 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 35% (19°)


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Trail shared by aaron moore

A leg burning ascent up a Gore Range drainage to a beautiful high alpine lake.

aaron moore

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


If you like beautiful, high alpine lakes, then this is a definite must do in the Gore Range.


DISCLAIMER: This trip was completed as a backpacking trip, but I definitely see the appeal of making this a run and would definitely recommend this trail to runners as well as hikers.

We drove into the Rock Creek Trailhead the night before and camped at the trailhead so we could get an early start. You start your outing on the North Rock Creek Trail #46 or as it looks on the map CO Rd #1350. Take this for ~0.5 mile until you meet up with the Gore Range Trail.

There are sections of trail that you may have come across that physically are not that difficult, but mentally are absurdly difficult. This was the case for me when I backpacked this portion of trail. Up, down, up, down, and just put that on repeat for the next several miles. This portion is mainly forested so the views of the mountains do not happen often or at all if I am remembering correctly.

After the up and down of the Gore Range Trail, you'll come to the intersection of the Slate Creek Trail and the Gore Range Trail. There is an abandoned old cabin in disrepair at this intersection which is a good marker. Turn left here and enjoy amazing views as you make your way towards Slate Lake and Upper Slate Lake.

As you head toward the actual mountains of the Gore Range and Slate Lakes, you'll traverse through amazing open meadows with great views of what is to come. Eventually, you'll leave the gentle ascent of the meadows and start a short steep climb to Lower Slate Lake. This is a great place for a break, water resupply, and a moment to soak in the views.

If you plan to go to Upper Slate Lake, make sure you are feeling good for a big steep climb and then a long journey out. I believe it is only ~2 miles to Upper Slate Lake, but it is a challenging little bit of climbing.

Once at Upper Slate Lake... enjoy! Take a swim! Relax! Now turn around and head back to your car the same way you got there.

Flora & Fauna

Depends on the time of year for flora.


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Jun 29, 2018
Mike J
Aug 26, 2017
Nick Greb
Where the fuck is that lake?! When you think you're there, your not. Worth the climb. 22.4mi
Jul 11, 2017
Michael Kostelecky
It is 11.5 miles to lower Slate Lake. 100% correct on the mind numbing ups and downs of the Gore range trail. 23mi

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 9 votes


  4.7 from 9 votes
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As of August 11, 2017, the foot bridge that crosses over Slate Creek before you turn off of the Gore Range Trail onto the Slate Creek Trail, has been overturned 90 degrees by a fallen tree. The bridge is still in one piece, so it is possible to saddle it and shimmy across on it. Or walk across if you really trust your sense of balance Aug 12, 2017
Jeff J  
As of 6/18, the footbridge is still sideways. Lots of downed trees and mosquitos too, but still an awesome hike Jun 28, 2018
Justin Petaccio
Denver, CO
Justin Petaccio   Denver, CO
July 22nd - Trail was in good condition. All of the trees have been cleared, although with the amount of beetle kill it is only a matter of time that more fall on the trail. Slate Creek Bridge was sideways, but you could walk over the first half, and hop down to a large rock for the second half. Was not complex at all. Beautiful hike, saw very few people other than at the lakes themselves. Mosquitoes were along the entire trail, but really bad leading up to and at the Upper Slate lake. No amount of deet was able to full protect us! Jul 23, 2018

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