Click on photo to jump up to Surprise Lake. Scroll down for directions.
When we refer to Grand County, Colorado as being an Island in the Rockies,
we are speaking of its geographic description as Middle Park and being
rimmed in every direction by high peaks. The southwest rim is the Gore Range.
It is in the White River National Forest and includes the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
It is very rugged with few trails; its highest peak is Mount Powell rising
to 13,560 feet. The Gore Range is in Summit County, just beyond Grand County,
but one can see it from many places in Grand County.
On the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park there is a
scenic overlook with a display indicating that the Gore Range is 60 miles away.
From the town of Grand Lake, one can see the Gore Range from the Grand Lake
Lodge's long and famous porch. From the town of Kremmling, the range rises
directly to the south.
One of the most impressive views of the Eagles Nest Wilderness is from the top
of Ute Pass. In Grand County, the Ute Pass Road is called Road 3. It meets Highway
40 just west of Hot Sulphur Springs and Parshall. Road 3 slowly makes its way along
the Williams Fork Reservoir and then up to the top of Ute Pass where the Henderson Mill
is located to process Molybdenum ore. As you cross the top of Ute Pass and take in its
breathtaking view of the Gore Range, you cross over into Summit County and the county
road number becomes #15. The roads rapidly descends and meets Highway 9
between Silverthorne and Kremmling.
The Byers Peak Wilderness also offers good views to the west of the Gore Range. The range
is so massive that one can gaze upon it from high points in the Indian Peak Wilderness
along the Continental Divide. As one looks towards Eagles Nest Peak (13,091') one
sees a huge uplifted plateau that is all above 12,000 feet. In this presentation, we will
take you right to it, up close and give you a view of Dora Lake poised at 12,284'
on this altiplano. It is a strenuous hike to get to it, and you wouldn't want to do it
except on a fair day. A much more relaxed way in which many people have looked
down upon this area is by jet plane on westbound commercial flights from Denver!
The west side of the Gore Range (not explored in this presentation) is what frames
the view to the northeast for skiers in Vail.
The trek featured here starts at the beginning of the Surprise Lake trailhead
at about 8600 feet. It climbs up to Surprise Lake at 10,044 feet. The trail briefly
becomes the Gore Range Trail. One then meets the Cataract Trail and gently
climbs up to Upper Cataract Lake at 10,744 feet. From there "we" leave the trail
and climb up to a scenic pool above Upper Cataract Lake and then climb ever
higher up and over a 12,500 ridge to the high plateau from which one has amazing
views of the most rugged terrain in the Eagles Nest Wilderness.
Click on the photos to speed through the presentation. There are about fifty photos
in all. Scroll down each of the 17 pages to make sure you don't miss any.
A few more words on directions. To reach the trailhead, you first go to the
Green Mountain Reservoir. This fairly large lake is part of the Big Thompson Project
which changed so much of the landscape of Grand County from Lake Granby to
Grand Lake. It takes a long time to drive around Green Mountain Reservoir.
Highway 9 runs along the east side. Summit County Road #30 runs along the west side.
Near the middle of the west side, is a barely marked road called Cataract CR for
Cataract Creek. This is the 2 mile road to the trailhead and Lower Cataract Lake
just beyond the trailhead. There are roadside campsites here and along Green Mountain
Reservoir. There are fee boxes for which you need to drop in five dollars, even if you
are just parking for a dayhike. The payment is good for five days. A golden eagle pass
and some other passes are also accepted.
It is not often that I make a mistake in directions, but on our weary descent, we
continued on the Gore Range Trail instead of switching to the Surprise Lake
Trail. We had to do quite a bit of backtracking and missed our timing in terms of
descending before dark. Fortunately, we had a LED flashlight and Loki our pack-dog
performed like a seeing-eye dog. There are only two trail junctions to get right
or wrong. Get a map and be careful. The Eagles Nest Wilderness is way to big
of an area to want to be off track. If you bring a GPS, have extra batteries ...
Most all of the words for this presentation are on this first page.
To continue, click here to see Surprise Lake. Clicking on the photos
of each new page will take you to the next page as you progress through
the entire presentation in the order in which the photos were taken.
Relax and enjoy! Send comments to relax@MountainLake.com
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