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Upper Cataract Lake

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.4 (10) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A great, shaded trail with multiple high-alpine lakes.


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Map Key

10.4

Miles

16.8

KM

Out and Back

10,946' 3,336 m

High

8,632' 2,631 m

Low

2,510' 765 m

Up

2,510' 765 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

33%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

This hike enters Eagles Nest Wilderness so dogs must be on leash, no bikes are allowed, and no campfires are allowed above treeline or within 1/4 mile of any lake.

Overview

The hike begins in alpine fields and then winds through aspen groves to reach Surprise Lake. From there, the trail continues through similar groves until it reaches Upper Cataract and Mirror Lakes.

This is a popular weekend backpacking spot, so leave early to score a campsite by one of the three lakes.

Info from USFS can be found here.

Need to Know

This trail can be especially busy on weekends, so try to plan your hike during the week.

Description

From I-70 take Exit 205 for Silverthorne/Dillon and travel north on HWY 9 for 16 miles. At mile marker 118, turn left onto County Road 30 toward the town of Heeney. Follow County Road 30 for 5.3 miles and then 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 Surprise Lake Trailhead (FDT 62) is at the foot bridge. Approximately 2.35 miles from the trailhead you'll intersect with Gore Range Trail #60. Turn right (west) on Gore Range Trail #60, which you'll follow for 0.81 miles until you reach the intersection for Upper Cataract Lake Trail #63 on your left (southwest). Travel approximately 2.16 miles to Upper Cataract Lake, which will be on your left. Continue for another 1.31 miles to reach Mirror Lake.

Many views of the Cataract Creek drainage are available along this trail. Fishing is reportedly 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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Huber

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 10 votes

#2

in Heeney

#1007

Overall
  4.4 from 10 votes
5 Star
40%
4 Star
60%
3 Star
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#2

in Heeney

#192

in Colorado

#1,007

Overall
11 Views Last Month
5,421 Since Aug 13, 2019
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Final descent to Upper Cataract Lake with Eagles Nest looming in the distance.
Aug 11, 2019 near Vail, CO
Upper Cataract Lake looking south.
Jul 14, 2017 near Vail, CO
Gore Range approaching Mirror/Cataract Lake
Jun 21, 2015 near Vail, CO
Unnamed lake just below Upper Cataract Lake.
Jul 14, 2017 near Vail, CO
Mirror Lake
Jun 21, 2015 near Vail, CO
Surprise Lake
Jun 21, 2015 near Vail, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Sep 11, 2020
Lily Douglas
stunning. now one of my favorite trails. section to surprise lake had a few steep parts, but otherwise moderate.
Jun 29, 2020
Mike Tozier
Nov 17, 2019
AJ Fisher
10mi — 5h 05m
Aug 11, 2019
Lexí Roberts
Lovely lovely! Caught sight of a red crossbill for the first time 7.8mi
Aug 10, 2019
Private User
Jun 22, 2018
Meagan Shepherd
Sep 11, 2017
Jeru Kidder
10.4mi
Jul 8, 2017
Matt Anderson
Steady climb all the way, but Upper Cataract is beautiful. Great fishing and plenty of great places for tents. 10.4mi — 8h 00m