If you like lakes, how about a hike that takes you to several lakes? The Seven Sisters are a series of lakes on the Fall Creek Trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness.
The hike starts on Jeep road (directions below). Not just any Jeep road, but a rough, rocky, lifted-vehicles-with-special-gear, Jeep road.
From the parking area, hike up the road labeled 727. A quarter mile in, a second sign appears. It warns drivers that “beyond this point, the trail goes from moderate to difficult.” They’re not kidding. A few feet away is a rocky obstacle. Even hikers have to watch their footing, you can only imagine trying to drive here.
As you hike up the steep, rocky road, there is a treat. The road is near a loud, gushing creek. When the trees open up, you’ll be able to take photos of the cascades.
About 1.5 miles from the trailhead, there is suddenly a series of signs warning, no snowmobiles. Walk to the left of the snowmobile signs and look for a way over the creek. Hopefully you’ll see several logs piled up.
On the other side of the creek, the Jeep road and Fall Creek Trail begins. The Jeep road continues 0.8 miles to Holy Cross City, an old mining town with just a couple foundations left. Go right and you should see a sign for Fall Creek Tr. No. 2001. It’s hard to miss it because there’s a funky structure on the trail to keep Jeeps and snowmobiles from traveling this way.
Fall Creek Trail starts next to a large open cirque filled with a scenic meadow and surrounded by towering peaks. The trail can be difficult to follow at times, but try because you don’t want to damage the fragile flowers and plants in this area.
Just a few steps from the trailhead, you may see a rusted, wheel-like item. This is just the first of several mining fragments you may spot along the trail.
The trail winds along the edge of the meadow about 0.4 miles to a boundary sign for the Holy Cross Wilderness. There’s a permit station here for groups and backpackers. There’s also a trail split. Go straight ahead, Hunk Dory Lake is just a few feet away.
Hunky Dory Lake is a peaceful, quiet place away from the Jeep road. The lake sits between a rocky wall and a forest. After a photo stop, return to the main trail and walk to the other end of the lake. Take another picture in this small meadow of the lake and turn around, you may spot mining relic number 2 here. It looks like a harness, but it’s made of pipes.
After the scavenger hunt, it back to the trail. Over the next 1.1 miles, you’ll pass at least one large waterfall, see several nice cascades and enjoy the surrounded peaks. You may also spot mining relic #3 right on the trail.
As the trail gets higher, you’ll pass a couple ponds just off trail. I don’t know if these are part of the “Seven Sisters,” but 1.1 miles from Hunky Dory Lake, you’ll come to a large lake that is definitely one of the Seven Sisters. This is a beautiful lake at the base of a mountain. Find a rock to sit on and have a snack while you enjoy the views. Look down valley to see the scenery you just hiked through. Look at the lake and spot the island. Look up at the mountain peak. And look for a waterfall that spills into the lake. There’s another lake above that and that’s where we’re headed next.
Head back to the main trail and start climbing again. The trail winds through willows, wildflowers and some muddy spots. About 0.6 miles miles away is a surprise –two lakes! A small lake with a rocky shoreline on the right and a large, beautiful lake on the left side of the trail.
This is a great spot for lunch. As you enjoy the lake and its surroundings, you may hear chirpy noises of the marmots who live in these rocks. As you look up at the surrounding peaks, you may notice the trail continues on. From here, the trail climbs up Fall Creek Pass to Lake Constantine, Tuhare Lakes and beyond. If you hike up the trail, you’ll pass at least one more of the Seven Sisters lakes, too.
From here, you have options. 1. Hike to the top of the pass. 2. Hike over the pass to more of the lakes on the Fall Creek Trail. 3. Explore and try to find more of the Seven Sisters Lakes. 4. Return the way you came.
Details: The hike to the 2nd and 3rd lakes (as I call them) and back is about 7.6 miles with 2,200 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From I-70, exit 171/Minturn/Leadville. Take Highway 24 south through Minturn. It’s 13 miles to Homestake Road #703. Turn right and take the dirt road past the Gold Park campground to mile 8.5. Turn right on Homestake Road #704 and drive 3 miles to a T. Turn right, go past the Fancy Lake trailhead and a bathroom. Take this rough, dirt road about 1.9 miles past the Fancy Lake trailhead to road 727. (At one point, the road you’re on looks to the left and another road goes straight ahead, take the road straight ahead.) In 2011 and 2012, part of the road was washed out. You can get around the wash out in a high-clearance vehicle or park here and walk to the trailhead.
To find more hikes in Colorado and through the west, check out my extensive list of great hiking ideas. And in this area, don’t miss Missouri & Fancy lakes.
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