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Fancy Pass to Missouri Lakes Loop

Difficult
 4.8 (4) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

Excellent high-alpine scenery with creeks, wildflowers, lakes, and alpine cirques - it's got it all!


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Map Key

8.8

Miles

14.2

KM

76%

Runnable

12,327' 3,757 m

High

10,025' 3,056 m

Low

2,449' 746 m

Up

2,449' 746 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

43%

Max Grade (23°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Overview

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!

Runner Notes

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!

Description

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Nick Wilder with improvements by ben m

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 4 votes

#2081

Overall
  4.8 from 4 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
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2 Star
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#300

in Colorado

#2,081

Overall
62 Views Last Month
929 Since Sep 19, 2020
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Photos

Great view of Missouri Lakes in September
Sep 20, 2020 near Avon, CO
Beautiful view of Fancy Lake
Dec 2, 2014 near Minturn, CO
Getting deep in the wilderness in September
Sep 20, 2020 near Avon, CO
The eastern side of Missouri Lakes.
Jul 26, 2016 near Avon, CO
Looking over the west side of Fancy Pass
Dec 2, 2014 near Avon, CO
An old miner's sled.  Imagine hauling rocks up and down this alpine scree field at 12,000'!
Dec 2, 2014 near Minturn, CO

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