This is a great long run that will give you outstanding views of the Fraser valley, an up close look at Devil's Thumb, and innumerable alpine lakes. There is some exposure on the way down from Caribou Pass Trail but nothing too bad! Even people afraid of heights will not have a problem.
Arapaho National Forest costs $5 per day. There is a pay station that accepts credit cards (?!) that you'll pass on your way to Meadow Creek Reservoir. You can also pay the volunteer at Junco Lake in cash; however, there are usually only volunteers on the weekends.
A CAMPING PERMIT is required between June 1st and September 15th; pass waived for wilderness overnight campers with Indian Peaks Pass. Many of the lakes close to the trail have designated campsites that you should try to use rather than making your own new campsite elsewhere.
Begin at the Junco Lake Trailhead, in the Arapaho National Forest. Run on the Columbine Trail before arriving at the High Lonesome Trail
about 0.25 miles from the Junco Lake Trailhead.
High Lonesome will take you through forest and some small rolling hills; a great warm-up before the first big hill!
After 5-6 miles, you'll take a left to continue on High Lonesome (which is also the CDT) for a very steep climb over the next 2 to 3 miles.
Upon reaching Devil's Thumb, take the ridge on your right and look out for cairns. The trail should be obvious. You'll take this until reaching Devil's Thumb Trail #902
, which will take you to the east side of the Continental Divide. Once on the east side, you'll head on a steep downhill past several alpine lakes.
Continue on Devil's Thumb Trail until reaching Diamond Lake Trail
on your left. Diamond Lake
will climb until eventually flattening out at Diamond Lake
After you get to the lake, you'll head downhill, crossing several streams, until reaching the Arapaho Pass Trail
on your left.
Arapahoe Pass is a steady but not-too-steep climb. At the top, you'll switch over to Caribou Pass Trail and have awesome views of the valley and alpine lakes below.
You'll continue on Caribou Pass Trail, all downhill, until you reach a junction with the Columbine Trail, and head back to the parking lot.