Upper Cataract Lake

Silverthorne, Colorado 80497

Upper Cataract Lake

Upper Cataract Lake Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Although by no means the highest of Colorado’s mountain chains, the Gore Range is considerably more rugged than many. As a faulted anticline range, these mountains rise abruptly to form an impressive collection of jagged peaks. Exploring these mountains is surprisingly easy, however, given the plentiful number of trails that penetrate them from the east and west.

Add to this the fact that a mining boom never really materialized in the Gores, and you have a Colorado mountain range that is virtually untouched by pick and shovel. This nice all-day hike into the Gore Range begins near Lower Cataract Lake and climbs steadily to Upper Cataract Lake in the northeast portion of the mountains."

Upper Cataract Lake Trip Reports

5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
icon3 Total
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
Great hike, mosquito were horrible, BUT well worth it. And if you are going to the upper cat lake you really should go to mirror lake another mile or so, well worth it. During the week very few people there!!! $5 parking charge at parking lot.
5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars
This is a great place to hike to. Much less used area of the Eagles Nest Wilderness than the Vail side. Hike is strenuous especially with a backpack. There are some great views especially just before you reach upper cataract lake. A ledge that overlooks Cat lake offers some unforgettable picture opportunities. Fishing is really good at the lake for the fly angler (not sure about the other type), there is great structure around the edges of the lake and for those who pack a tube in the fishing is good in the middle of the lake due to the shallow portions of the lake offering great hiding places for the trout. Rainbows were caught mostly in the 10-14 inch range. A great dayhike beyond cataract lake is flapjack and mirror lakes.
4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
We had an excellent time on this trip. We hiked in and spent 2 nights at Upper Cataract Lake. The lake is very pretty, surrounded by rugged mountains. The fishing was poor. Between 4 people we only caught 2 trout in 2 days. For Labor Day weekend it was crowded, but there were plenty of campsites. There are only a couple of large sites, and they are close to the trailhead. If you only need space for 1 or 2 tents hike around the lake for more privacy.

If you are up for a fun day hike, about half way up Eagles Nest Peak is a ridgeline with another small lake in it. There is no trail so you’ll just have to scramble up the mountainside. The lake is on the Topo map, but if you just head to the far end of Upper Cataract Lake and start up the area of the hillside with the trees you’ll find it.

To help supplement the worthless trail guide, here’s some info. If you are backpacking, this is a difficult trail. The trailhead is at 8600 ft. Secret lake is at 10000 ft, which makes for quite a strenuous climb in the first 2.5 miles. You'll pick up another 1000+ ft in elevation the last half of the trip. The last half is a much easier climb, but the first half is so difficult you’ll be tired. Just before you reach the mirror lake trail you’ll drop down in elevation to approx. 10800 ft. When you reach the Mirror lake trail, you’re close. The hike in took us nearly 5 hours. The hike out took us 2.5 hours.

Approx. GPS Waypoints:
Trailhead: N39 50.246 W106 18.937
Gore Range Trail: N39 48.573 W106 17.991
Secret Lake: N39 48.542 W106 18.191
Cataract Trail: N39 48.551 W106 18.774
Mirror Lake Trail: N39 47.776 W106 20.003
Upper Cataract Lake: N39 47.570 W106 20.216

Upper Cataract Lake Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
8 hours
July to October
8,600 feet
Trailhead Elevation
10,756 feet
Top Elevation
Arapaho National Forest; Eagles Nest Wilderness Area
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Powell
Local Maps

Trail Log