Surprise/Eaglesmere Loop

Heeney, Colorado 80498

Surprise/Eaglesmere Loop

Surprise/Eaglesmere Loop Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This loop trail, which visits four lakes, can be hiked in a long day, broken into shorter segments, or done as a backpack. The farther into the Eagles Nest Wilderness you travel, the more primitive the area seems. Various features along the trail highlight the glacial past. Lower Cataract Lake, far below most of the trail, forms the hub of the loop. Several views of craggy Eagles Nest, the peak after which the Eagles Nest Wilderness was named, treat the eye along the way. At 13, 400 feet, Eagles Nest is the second-highest peak in the Gore Range.

The loop hike consists of a bit of dirt road, the Surprise Lake Trail, the Gore Range Trail, short side trails to Tipperary Lake and Eaglesmere Lakes, and the Eaglesmere Trail. The farther into the Eagles Nest Wilderness you travel, the more primitive the area seems. After Tipperary Lake, the trail winds around huge blocks of granite, surely a remnant of glacial times. Looking up the Cataract Creek drainage to Eagles Nest might make you feel like you ’re miles from civilization."

Surprise/Eaglesmere Loop Reviews

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7/29/2018
We did the backpacking loop in two days but this is absolutely doable as a day hike. We stayed the first night at Tipperary (really nice campsites) and headed on to Surprise the next morning. The beautiful evergreen and aspen groves are just wonderful. Gorgeous scenery and wildflowers!
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9/17/2010
I was a little forced to do this in two days, which was fine, but I had it planned for three days. I did the trail exactly how trails.com proposed to do it. I got a late start on Friday, so I camped about 3.5 miles in on the Surprise side. There is no water at all until you get closer to Surprise lake. I got lucky and I found a stream 3.5 miles in and that's where I stayed the night. From the trail head to about 4 miles in the trail is extremely unforgiving on the walk up. Once you get past the 4 mile mark the trail isn't too hard. The next day I hiked to Surprise, Tipparary (sp), and Eaglesmere lakes. The lakes are fairly close together. Once you get past Eaglesmere there aren't many if at all camping spots and no water, so plan accordingly. Basically, the only water you'll find is in between the lakes. On the Eaglesmere side I saw one camp spot. But, what does it matter then because you're only about 4 miles away from the trail head. My backpack options are these: 1) Take a fishing pole and camp out somewhere near the lakes for the first night. For the second day don't break camp and spend the day fishing. The third day I would then hike out. 2) Make sure you can do this in two days. PS. On the backside where all the lakes are, yes the views are spectacular. If I were to do this trail again I would either pick option 1 from my options or do this is a day hike. PSS Yes, this trail is pretty heavily traveled until you get back to where Surprise and Tipperary(sp) lakes are. If you're looking for a little seclusion then this is not the trail for you.
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7/25/2009
I hiked the loop starting at the Surprise trailhead, planning on lunch at Surprise and camp at Tipparary. The trail up to Surprise is somewhat monotonous and the lake had quite a few visitors (relatively so I guess..) past Surprise it is more interesting. Although some other hikers told me there was good campsites at Tipparary, the only one is really used and too close to the lake for LNT. I couldn't find any trail around the lake and walked in boggy areas I probably shouldn't have per LNT, and still didn't find good camping. I ended up going on to Eaglesmere and loved it. The lake and views are really pretty. The downside was another couple who set up camp right next to the water, not the 100ft away as required, really disrupts the "solitude" you expect in wilderness. The hike out was really pretty, fields and fields of wild flowers, some as tall as myself! Next time I think I would just do the Eaglesmere Lake/Trail and not the Surprise Lake/Trail section and day hike to Tipparary.
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8/4/2008
This is a lovely trail, that can be hard at times. I backpacked the entire trail in two days, starting at Eaglesmere and camping at first water near footbridge. Take lots of water, snacks and bug spray. You can start up either side to first water and turn into a over night trip. If I had to to again I'd have given myself 3 days and then I could have enjoyed the lakes more.
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7/18/2007
Great trail. On the advice of another guide, we did this in reverse. Didn't see any advantage doing it this way. Lot's of wildflowers and views on the Eaglesmere trail. We ended up staying at Eaglesmere Lake two nights and day hiked to Tipparary. Will try the entire loop next time from the Surprise trailhead. Fabulous backpack. Moderate in difficulty.
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Surprise/Eaglesmere Loop Photos

Trail Information

Heeney
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
12.3
Distance
1,845 feet
Elevation Gain
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Difficult
Skill Level
5.5 to 8.5 hours
Duration
Best from mid-June to early October
Season
White River National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Powell; Trails Illustrated:#107 Green Mountain Reservoir, Ute Pass
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018