Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
Going the direction as shown (counter-clockwise) gets the steeper part done with first (and uphill), making the downhill more comfortable. But it's just as good either direction!
A few sections are just too steep for mortals to run, but they're pretty short, and many of the miles are pure joy to run!
From the parking area, take the Fancy Pass Trail #2006
(Missouri Lakes Trail #2003
is just to the left, where you'll finish), dive right in to beautiful fir forest. You'll find mushroom, lush green undergrowth, and stream braiding everywhere.
After a mile or so, you'll use an old mining road for a short period. After that, you start hugging the creek more closely, which forms some nice waterfalls. Near the lake, you'll take a bunch of very short switchbacks and then pop out on a bench with Fancy Lake. Soak in the views and consider turning around here if you're tired or the weather is bad.
Continuing on though, continue up the trail up MUCH steeper terrain up above tree line. The last bit of this trail has a groove carved into the alpine rock. There is an old mining sled at the bottom; imagine hauling that up and down this crazy steep slope, at 12,000+ feet, even in winter!
From the top of the pass, head into deeper wilderness and connect to Missouri Lakes Trail #2003
. Enjoy views of the Cross Creek Valley to the north, the huge alpine cirque all around you and Savage Peak (13,139') to the south.
From here, the trail is a bit easier. Meadows will be flower-filled in late July and frame the lake beautifully. Great place for a rest before the final descent! There is an amazing narrow canyon to check out - there's a bridge crossing right at the base, so you can't miss it. Cross the creek many times as you go in and out of lush fir forest lower down all the way to the parking lot.
Flora & Fauna
The fir forest here is unaffected (so far) from the pine beetle epidemic that's decimated other areas in Colorado. It's particularly nice forest.
Shared By: Nick Wilder
by ben m