If you’re in search of a fall backpacking Colorado trip, here it is! Lone Eagle Peak. This past weekend three of us grabbed our packs and left for the trailhead for a backpacking adventure we are still recovering from!
The Adventures of Lone Eagle Peak Backpacking Trip (14.8+ miles round-trip)
Where It All Began:
We met at 8:00 am in Fraser and stopped by Sharky’s to “fill our tanks” with the breakfast burritos ordered. (Never been? Check them out and join us on the Sharky’s breakfast burrito bandwagon!)
Jumped in the car around 8:40 am and headed to Granby, Colorado where we took the 34-split heading East on US-34 towards Grand Lake, Colorado. Approximately 5.5 miles up you take a right onto Colorado Highway 6 towards Arapaho Bay. There is a pay station on the right where you can buy a parking pass for your car; we weren’t sure if the season was over…so we took our chances. Follow Colorado Highway 6 down all the way until you hit the parking lot by Trailhead Campground. (It’s a stunning drive on a well-maintained dirt road that follows the Lake Granby shoreline – amazing views all around!)
We parked, grabbed our packs, signed the registry, made small-talk with the motherly volunteer who warned us 10+ times about the “ornery bull moose in the area” and reminded us that “it got down to 32*F in Tabernash last night,” and hit the trail!
The Hike: (Part 1)
To start, you take the Western route on the Loop Trail around Monarch Lake. (This will be your left when facing Monarch Lake). The first mile and a half is a pretty flat hike, following the lake around. Unfortunately or fortunately we didn’t see any of the “ornery bull moose.”
At 1.6 miles you’ll take the Arapaho Pass – Cascade Creek Trail Split (It’s the one heading uphill on your left). From here it’s a pretty straightforward hike, you stay on the trail following signs for Crater Lake.
The Hike: (Part 2)
Somewhere between 3 and 3.4 miles in, you’ll enter a valley that has had some major avalanche action on both sides! CRAZY to think about how much power the Avalanche had to take down so many huge trees!
4.5 miles in, you hit Cascade Falls #1 – it’s beautiful! Keep heading up to the second viewpoint. Here you can take a seat, filter water, take a swim, “rock-climb”, and view the falls up close!
Warning: Rocks are slippery!
Keep your eyes peeled for more falls later on in the trail!
The trail is great because it follows Buchanan Creek through a variety of landscapes, so you always have water available. (Don’t be dumb; always filter/treat before you drink…beaver fever isn’t fun!)
The trail gets steep at times but not bad…even with a 40-pound pack. Plus, the steep parts don’t last forever. Other cool parts include giant buried boulders, tree bridges, and amazing views of cliffs and peaks spearing from the valley!
The first lake you’ll come to is Mirror Lake. It’s beautiful but doesn’t stop there! Continue to Crater Lake. You’ll know it when you see it! When facing the Lake, Lone Eagle Peak will be on your left; you can’t miss it. The whole area is stunning and somewhat surreal.
Moral of the Story:
This hike is amazing! It is definitely one for the bucket list…with the right crew. Remember to pack smart, be prepared, clean up after yourselves, and do it! You won’t regret it…promise!
- There are designated campsites for use, (June 1st – September 15th you will need a permit)
- Apparently the fines for having a fire are steep. We made a fire in a pre-existing pit and then made friends who were willing to share the fines with us.
- Cell service is spotty.
- Baby weasels are cute…but they will try to help themselves to your food.
- Dogs are allowed, but only on a leash… Many thanks to the ranger who took pity on me and let me off with a warning vs. a $125 ticket!
- Bear bags are great – especially in the fall.
- It’s fall, hunters are out, wear orange.