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.
Depends on the time of year for flora.