Along this route, you'll enjoy great hiking with views down the valley and established campsites around Eaglesmere Lake. This would be a fantastic trail to see the aspen leaves changing in late September/early October - the hillsides are covered in them.
Plan to go over and around the dead-fall trees. There's plenty of water at the two lakes and at streams midway through the Gore Range Trail section.
This is a great loop through the Eagle's Nest Wilderness using the Eaglesmere Trail #61
, Gore Range Trail, and Surprise Lake Trail #62
The Eaglesmere Trail starts at a small trailhead that has legitimate parking for fewer than 10 cars. It begins with several short, steep sections in the first mile where it is definitely useful to have trekking poles. At the first fork, take a right (uphill). There are a several trees blown down along the way, and the trail is narrow and eroding in places where it follows the contour of a slope. There's no water on this part of the trail, but there are nice views of Cataract Lake down in the bottom of the valley from time to time.
Watch for a sign for the Gore Range Trail, which mentions Eaglesmere Lake. Go right to the lake, where there's a well-established camp spot near the shore. This is a pretty spot to spend the night if you are planning on making this a two-day hike.
In the morning, backtrack to the Eaglesmere Trail - Gore Range Trail junction and continue to your right, downhill on the Gore Range Trail. This trail is wider and nicer than Eaglesmere, but still has downed trees as of October 2016. This section goes sharply down and then back up, crossing a couple of streams on decent log bridges. Where the trail crosses rock, watch for cairns to show the way. After bottoming out at a creek, the trail heads back uphill - a couple of steep sections keep things interesting.
Take a left at the Surprise Lake Trail #62
sign, which leads within a stone's throw of the lake, which is small and pretty, with lily pads. The Surprise Lake Trail has some prolonged steep sections, but the trail is all downhill from here to the trailhead.
From the trailhead, continue on to your right and then turn left on the first road (almost immediately) - it's about 10 minutes back to your car if you parked at the Eaglesmere Trailhead.
Elk hunters reported no elk sightings. There was lots of scat on the trail, but no mammals showed themselves. Signs at the Surprise Lake Trailhead state that moose are active in the area.