“A great shaded trail with multiple high alpine lakes (Surprise, Mirror, Upper Cataract).
— Hiking Project Staff
Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The hike begins in alpine fields and then winds through aspen groves to reach surprise lake. From there it continues largely shaded up to Mirror and Cataract Lakes. Cataract lake made for a chilling swim (mid-June), with snow still covering parts of it.
There is high backpacker use on the weekends, so it is advisable to leave the trailhead early if you are looking for a spot at one of the three lakes.
Info from USFS can be found here
THIS IS A REC FEE DEMO AREA.
BECAUSE THIS TRAIL TRAVELS INTO THE EAGLES NEST WILDERNESS NO BICYCLES ARE ALLOWED AND DOGS MUST BE ON A LEASH NOT LONGER THAN SIX (6) FEET IN LENGTH!
WITHIN THE EAGLES NEST WILDERNESS, NO CAMPFIRES ARE ALLOWED ABOVE TREELINE NOR WITHIN .25 MILES (440 YARDS) OF ANY LAKE.
Need to Know
This trail can be especially busy on weekends, so try and plan your hike during the week.
From I-70 take Exit 205, Silverthorne / Dillon, and travel north on HWY 9. Travel 16 miles north on HWY 9. Just after mile marker 118 turn left onto County Road 30, toward the
town of Heeney. Follow County Road 30 for 5.3 miles and turn left onto Cataract Creek Road (FDR 1725). Continue for 2.5 miles to the parking area at the end of the road. Please do not block the gate. The trailhead starts at the foot bridge. This trail begins from the Surprise Lake Trailhead (FDT 62).
Approximately 2.35 miles from the trailhead you'll intersect with the Gore Range Trail
(FDT 60). Turn right (west) on the Gore Range Trail
and approximately 0.81 miles further on you'll arrive at the intersection for the Upper Cataract Lake Trail, which will be on your left (southwest). Travel approximately 2.16 miles to Upper Cataract Lake, which will be on your left. Many views of the Cataract Creek drainage are available along this trail. Approximately 1.31 miles further on from Upper Cataract Lake you'll come to Mirror Lake. Fishing is reported to be good in both of these lakes.
Flora & Fauna
An abundance of wildflowers can be seen from late-June through mid-July. The lower quarter of the trail is a pleasant trip through open aspen groves. However, the trail becomes increasingly more difficult as you climb in elevation through fir and spruce forest.