Round-Trip Length: 5.3 miles
Start-End Elevation: 10,400′ – 11,480′
Elevation Change: +1,080′
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location: Interstate 70 west from Denver. Take exit 238, Fall River Road. Turn right on Fall River Road and drive 8.4 miles to Alice Road/CR 275 (dirt). Left on Alice Road – pass Silver Creek & Harris Dr. Turn right on Stewart Road. Passenger cars should park at this intersection or drive another 0.36 miles on a rocky, pothole filled road to the parking area and gate.
The weather forecast was looking great for Saturday so Lisa and I thought we would take advantage and get out into the mountains for a hike before winter arrives. I pulled out my “Hikes to Do” list to find one that we hadn’t yet done that was not too long of a drive, and not too long of a hike that promised us great views and a wonderful destination. I decided on the Loch Lomond-Reynolds Lake-Steuart Lake-Ohman Lake combo. It was perfect – only an hour’s drive from home and the opportunity to hike up to four lakes!
I’ve started my “Hikes to Do” list (an Excel spreadsheet) which I keep adding to of hikes I read about that we haven’t yet done with basic information such as hike name, trailhead location, notes about the hike, and a link to a website (if I have one) that describes the hike in more detail. I’m amazed sometimes that even though we’ve lived in Colorado for over 27 years, we continue to find new peaks and lakes (some even relatively close to home) that we haven’t heard of. The spreadsheet helps me keep track of these and makes for a quicker hike selection when we decide to head out on a weekend for a hike.
We headed on out and up to the community of Alice to start our hike. It’s been a while since I’ve driven the Fall River Road off of I-70 up to Alice. We made a mental note of all of the aspen trees along this road and told ourselves we would need to come back up this way next Fall to see the color (the leaves were all gone already for this season).
Alice was one of many camps on the Fall River that boomed and died just as quickly. Gold was found here in the 1880’s in the valley below St. Mary’s glacier. About $50,000 was taken out of the mines in the first few months and by 1889, the town and mines closed. There are still ruins of the cabins scattered among the pines and there is a community of people still living in this area today.
We made our way to the gate on Forest Service Road 701.2 and parked. The lower gate was open and we could have continued up further but the road was quite rough so we decided to park and start our hike here. I’ve read that the Loch Lomond area is very popular with fishermen, campers and off-road enthusiasts, especially on weekends in the summer. Today was the perfect time for this hike as we saw only a few people and had the trail and lakes pretty much to ourselves.
A short distance up the road, we had beautiful views to the west of the snow-dusted peaks.
The trail followed Fall River up. I stopped to take a picture of this cascade.
About 0.75 miles up the trail, we crossed Fall River.
We came across a little more snow on the trail as we continued up to Loch Lomond.
We arrived at Loch Lomond (11,200’) after a 2-mile hike. We could tell the lake was quite low. At the far end we saw the cascading waterfall which was the lake’s inlet coming from the lakes above.
Lisa decided to stay at Loch Lomond and I continued on to the upper lakes. After a little bushwhacking, I found the trail that headed on up to Reynolds Lake. After a steep climb, gaining 267 feet of elevation in 0.5 miles, I arrive at Reynolds Lake (11,467’).
At the far end of Reynolds Lake, I had a good view looking back down on Loch Lomond.
I continued on another 0.15 miles and only another 13 feet of elevation gain to reach Steuart Lake (11,480’). Steuart Lake had a thin layer of ice over most of its surface.
A look back over at Reynolds Lake from Steuart Lake.
I scanned the terrain looking for the trail that continued up to Ohman Lake another 0.5 miles from Steuart Lake but couldn’t find it so I decided to head on back down to Loch Lomond where Lisa was waiting. Once back down at Loch Lomond, Lisa and I hiked closer over to the frozen waterfall to get some good pictures of it. It was a beautiful combination of ice and water which we were both fascinated with.
There were lots of other cool ice formations around the inlet into the lake.
After taking lots of picture of the ice, we headed on back down the trail.
We had beautiful views of the mountains to the southwest on our hike down.
A beautiful shot of Fall River as the sun was starting to get lower in the sky.
As I mentioned earlier, this was a great hike for this time of year. We avoided the summer crowds and enjoyed the peacefulness of the lakes, great Fall weather with just a hint of winter with the slight dusting of snow and the great ice formations on the waterfall and rocks!