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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Eagle Ranger District

Quick Facts

Middle Lake Trail

Average Time: 4.5 Hours
Beginning Elevation: 9,600 Feet (2992.5 Meters)
Difficulty: Most Difficult
Elevation Gain, One-way: 1,520 Feet (473.8 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 11,120 Feet (3466.3 Meters)
High Point: 11,800 Feet (3678.3 Meters)
Length, One-way: 3.5 Miles (5.83 Kilometers)
Recommended Season: July-September
Trail Number: 2223
Usage: Moderate
USGS Maps: Grouse Mountain




Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

View from the ridge between Middle Lake and Lake Thomas, Holy Cross Wilderness
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
View from the ridge between Middle Lake and Lake Thomas, Holy Cross Wilderness
Middle Lake Trail travels from the Bareyta Cabins site through the Holy Cross Wilderness to Middle Lake. It is one of the steepest and most challenging trails on the Eagle Ranger District. It climbs 1000 feet in the first 1/2 mile to a total rise of 2200 feet at the highest point 2.5 miles along the trail; 11,800 feet. The trail then descends 680 feet to Middle Lake. The trail begins after crossing West Lake Creek, which currently has no bridge. It climbs through spruce/fir up a number of switchbacks. At 1.5 miles, the trail connects onto the Dead Dog Trail, #2220. The climb continues through a Krummholz forest of spruce before reaching the rocky alpine meadows. The descent to Middle Lake is also steep and rocky. Often the trail may be faint, but look for stone cairns to help guide the way. Camping is best in the meadow region before the lake. If camping near the lake, remember to stay at least 100 feet away from the water's edge and from the trail.

SPECIAL INTERESTS
MIDDLE LAKE - This picturesque 9 acre lake surrounded by spruce/fir and rocky snow-covered peaks offers fishing for rainbow and Colorado native cutthroat trout.

ALPINE WILDFLOWERS - The alpine meadows of the high ridge have a good variety of alpine flowers. It's best to view kingscrown, white marsh marigold, globeflower, harebells and phlox in July and August.

Directions from Eagle: Go 18 miles east on I-70 to the Edwards exit. Go south on Highway 6, then turn west . Go 0.7 mile and turn right onto Lake Creek Road, at the National Forest Access sign. Travel 1.8 miles and turn right onto West Lake Creek Road. Be sure to stay on West Lake Creek Road as it winds through a residential area. Follow to Forest Road 423, a rough, rutted 4-wheel drive road and take it 3.2 miles until it deadends at Baryeta Cabins site. There is limited parking at the turnaround and that is the only parking available. The trail begins across West Lake Creek at the end of the road. There are no facilities at the trailhead. Those not wanting to drive the very rough Road 423, can park at the bottom and walk the 3.2 miles to the Baryeta Cabins site. Mountain bikers using the Bareyta Cabins Road are reminded that bikes are not permitted on trails through the Wilderness.

Directions from Beaver Creek: Follow Highway 6 about 4 miles west to the town of Edwards. 0.7 mile past the Edwards stoplight, turn left onto Lake Creek Road at the National Forest Access sign. Travel 1.8 miles and turn right onto West Lake Creek Road. Be sure to stay on West Lake Creek Road as it winds through a residential area. Follow to Forest Road 423, a rough, rutted 4-wheel drive road and take it 3.2 miles until it deadends at Baryeta Cabins site. There is limited parking at the turnaround and that is the only parking available. The trail begins across West Lake Creek at the end of the road. There are no facilities at the trailhead. Those not wanting to drive the very rough Road 423, can park at the bottom and walk the 3.2 miles to the Baryeta Cabins site. Mountain bikers using the Bareyta Cabins Road are reminded that bikes are not permitted on trails through the Wilderness.

Directions from Vail: Travel 13 miles west on I-70 to the Edwards exit. Go south toward the town of Edwards to Highway 6 and turn right. Go 0.7 miles and turn left onto Lake Creek Road at the National Forest Access sign. Travel on this road for 1.8 miles and then turn right onto West Lake Creek Road. Be sure to stay on West Lake Creek Road as it winds through a residential area. Follow to Forest Road 423, a rough, rutted 4-wheel drive road and take it 3.2 miles until it deadends at Baryeta Cabins site. There is limited parking at the turnaround and that is the only parking available. The trail begins across West Lake Creek at the end of the road. There are no facilities at the trailhead. Those not wanting to drive the very rough Road 423, can park at the bottom and walk the 3.2 miles to the Baryeta Cabins site. Mountain bikers using the Bareyta Cabins Road are reminded that bikes are not permitted on trails through the Wilderness.

Seasonal Information:
Recommended Season: July through September .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Updated: 2001-06-26 14:41:00.0


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Filed By: Keith Livengood (Raleigh, NC)
Time of Day: 3:30 PM
Length of Time: 4 hours 1 way
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Very difficult 4wd high clearance road with ditches, culverts, rock slide, steep and narrow. 4WD with high clearance required. At 3 mile point, the road forks. Take the right fork. The trailhead is about another 3/4 mile. Be prepared with axe or hatchet in case of downed trees. We had to cut our way out after a storm.
Conditions: The trail is very steep. The first 3 miles is easy to follow. The last 3/4 mile is marked by cairns. We crossed some small snow fields. The lake is difficult to find. At 3 1/2 miles encounter a low swampy area possibly with shallow ponds and streams cascading down from the snowmelt. Cross this area and continue east toward the opposite peaks. Climb a small wooded ridge and decend down the east side through many fallen trees. The lake will eventually come into view at the bottom of the peaks of the montains on the east side of the valley. We camped on a rock outcropping overlooking the steams and small ponds about 1/4 mile before reaching the lake. The views were spectacular.
Water Availability: There is a stream at about the 2 mile point on the trail. There are also streams at the 3 1/2 mile point before reaching the lake. Don't forget your water filter and bear bag.
Recommended Clothing: In July we encountered a heavy concentration of mosquitos and flies at and near the lake. Deet is a must. Also recommend long pants and long sleeves.
Suggested Accessories: The fishing at the lake is spectacular. Especially at the tail water on the north end. The cutthroat trout are 12 - 18 inches and are lined up waiting to be caught and released. Recommend a 4 or 5 wt fly rod and small dry flies such as caddis.



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Middle Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Fishing
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Middle Lake Trail
Yes
ICON Horseback Riding Middle Lake Trail is a steep and challenging trail.
Yes
ICON Hunting
Yes



Related Activities
Dead Dog Trail - This trail south of Edwards, starts from the East Lake Creek Trail #1880 and intersects the Middle Lake Trail #2223 on the ridge between Middle Lake Creek and West Lake Creek.

East Lake Creek Trail - This trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness south of Edwards, leads up the scenic East Lake Creek valley.

Middle Lake - Middle Lake is a 9.6 acre glacial pothole at an elevation of 11,120 feet in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

New York Mountain Trail - This trail south of Edwards begins near the Baryeta Cabins site and leads past the Polar Star 10th Mountain Hut before linking to the New York Lake trail #2221.



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