I’ve been wanting to go back to Beartrack Lakes in the Mount Evans wilderness for several years. When Lara and I hiked there with Bacchus years ago, I spotted a campsite on the opposite side of the lake that simply looked fantastic. We never seem to get around to going back before September, and the road to the primary trailhead is closed after Labor Day due to heavy hunting activity. After studying the map, I found another way to access the lakes from the south. It meant climbing up and over a saddle, but it seemed like a nice hike.

Overview of the 7.5 mile hike from Deer Creek trailhead to Beartrack Lakes.

In my excitement, I didn’t look at the actual elevation gain involved. It wasn’t until I was about 4 miles in that I realized I was in for quite a workout. The trail rises roughly 2800′ from the trailhead to the saddle before descending another 1200′ to Beartrack Creek, then rises another 200-300′ on the way up to the lake. All in all, it was roughly 7.5 miles in addition to that stairmaster workout.

The climb up Tanglewood Creek to the saddle

The trail climbs along Tanglewood Creek, which is filled with little cascades along the way. In addition to the climb, much of the trail is rocky, which multiplies the overall difficulty. You eventually climb through spruce and lodgepole forest before emerging above treeline on the way up to the saddle. As I crested the top, the wind started howling and the temperature plunged. It actually snowed for a few minutes before everything settled back down.

The hike down from the saddle to Beartrack Lake

Upon reaching the main lake, I found the little trail to cross over to where I remembered my campsite to be. It was everything I remembered. I started climbing up the small rise on the southern edge of the lake, and got very excited about the potential views overlooking the lake with Mount Evans and the continental divide in the background. Unfortunately, when I reached the top of the rise, I found a tent was already pitched! We’d have to find another location.

We went around to the north side of the lake and found a nice little spot. It didn’t have near the view that I had hoped for, but it was convenient and comfortable. Laika and I had a little fire as we ate our dinners, then turned in for the night. We heard elk bugling through the night – one of my favorite wilderness sounds to serenade us to sleep.

We woke before sunrise to walk back down to the end of the lake for some pictures. I must have taken more than a dozen shots from different spots around the edge of the lake as the sun came up. It was a beautiful morning, and I’m pretty pleased with several of the photos.

I’ll definitely be heading back to this spot. I found a couple of other nice camp sites, but one of these days I’m going to have that spot on the hill on the south side of the lake!

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