“A gradual trail through a beautiful canyon with views of cliffs, evidence of glaciation, and flowers”
— Tomsen Reed
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The road up to the parking lot marked on the map is closed until Memorial Day at least almost every year, so you would need to run up the road to get to the trailhead before then.
The main bridge that simplified the crossing of High Creek near the trailhead has been removed due to failure, so the first crossing is a makeshift crossing made of logs and rocks. It works just fine, but use some caution as you cross it as it can be slippery and unstable.
From the trailhead, cross the first bridge across High Creek, and then continue on past the remnants of the bridge that failed (about a quarter of a mile or less from the trailhead). You'll continue on the south side of the canyon for another half mile until you reach the first (and most difficult) stream crossing. The trail continues and slowly ascends up to a point where the old trail crosses the creek where it is pretty wide - do not cross here, because there is nothing on the other side, and the trail actually continues up to the left for a short distance and then crosses the stream where it is smaller and has an actual bridge over it.
After this crossing, you'll continue up through forests and brushy areas and encounter several other stream crossings until you reach a section where things level out for a little bit as you pass several beaver ponds. From here, you'll be able to see the north face of Cherry Peak, an impressive set of cliffs. As you ascend the trail you'll get closer and closer to Cherry Peak, and then the trail will turn left and start inclining more steeply. About a tenth of a mile from this point where the trail starts going east, there is an overlook to a very pretty waterfall, about 20 feet tall.
Once you get back on the trail, it continues switchbacking up and steepening but the views keep getting better and better as you start to see the head of a glacially carved valley filled with wildflowers (in season). The trail continues up until you reach the glacial moraine that dams High Creek Lake's outlet and from here you can see the headwall of this spectacular cirque that envelops High Creek Lake. The trail from here steepens even more as you get to the junction of this trail with the Cherry Creek Trail
, but it's only about a half mile to get there from High Creek Lake.
Flora & Fauna
If you go in season (May-July) you will spot plenty of bluebells, columbine, indian paintbrush, glacier lilies, and other beautiful wildflowers.