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blue Upper Cataract Lake

  4.4 ( 5 ) Favorite


10.4 mile 16.8 kilometer out and back
78% Runnable


Ascent: 2,510' 765 m
Descent: -2,510' -765 m
High: 10,946' 3,336 m
Low: 8,632' 2,631 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 33% (18°)


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Trail shared by Trail Run Project Staff

A great shaded trail with multiple high alpine lakes (Surprise, Mirror, and Upper Cataract).

Trail Run Project Staff

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

This run enters the Eagle's Nest Wilderness, so dogs must be on leash, no bikes are allowed, and no campfires are allowed above treeline or within 0.25 miles of any lake.


The run 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 Mirror and Cataract 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 and plan your run during the week.


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 the Gore Range Trail (FDT 60). Turn right (west) on the Gore Range Trail, which you'll follow for 0.81 miles until you reach 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. 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.

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Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 5 votes


in Heeney


  4.4 from 5 votes
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