Lower Cataract Lake

Trail Length: 2.25 mile loop
Trailhead Elevation: 8,652’
Elevation Gain: 152’ net elevation gain
Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location:  The Lower Cataract Lake Trailhead is located 25.2 miles northwest of Silverthorne, CO on Cataract Road. From I-70, exit #205 at Silverthorne head north on HWY 9 for 17 miles to County Road 30. Turn west on County Road 30 (a maintained dirt road) and travel 5.6 miles to Cataract Road and bear left. Continue 2.6 miles on Cataract Road past the Cataract Lake Campground, Eaglesmere Trailhead and Surprise Trailhead to the dead-end at the Lower Cataract Lake Trailhead.

We spent Memorial Day Weekend up in Summit County, Colorado, one of our favorite mountain get away spots.  Summit County is only about 70 miles from home and we always enjoying hiking, biking, kayaking, and just generally enjoying the High Country up there.

On Saturday morning we decided to take a short hike north of Silverthorne.  The loop trail around Lower Cataract Lake is a short, easy hike/walk around the lake.  If you’re looking for a fairly easy stroll, this is a great little hike to get out and enjoy the area in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.

The area surrounding Cataract Lake is a transition from high desert to an alpine environment. Therefore, you can enjoy a range of communities from open views of sagebrush fields, aspen meadows coated with wildflowers, and conifer forests of lodgepole pine, spruce, and fir.

We arrived at the parking lot around 11:30am and headed down to the lake.  A view looking west across the lake.  If you look closely, you can see a waterfall on the opposite side of the lake.

Lower Cataract Lake

We decided to hike the loop in a clockwise circle and headed off to the left.  A closer up view of the waterfall across the lake.

Lower Cataract Lake-Waterfall

Some interesting green plants along the trail.

Lower Cataract Lake-Green Plant

The trail skirted a small pond next to Lower Cataract Lake.  I was able to capture the reflection of a few spruce trees in the pond.

Lower Cataract Lake-Pond Reflection

We continued along the south shore of the lake heading west and got a closer view of the waterfall.

Lower Cataract Lake-Waterfall

Lower Cataract Lake-Waterfall

We reached the inlet to the lake on the west side and hiked up a short distance along the stream hoping to get a better view of the waterfall but the forest was too dense so we were unable to hike up far enough to see the falls.  A couple of shots along the stream.

Lower Cataract Lake-Inlet Stream

Lower Cataract Lake-Inlet Stream

Lower Cataract Lake-Inlet Stream

We continued across a bridge and over to the marshier north shore of the inlet.  Some more green plants growing along the wetter north shore.

Lower Cataract Lake-Green Plants

A couple of shots looking back east across the lake.

Lower Cataract Lake

Lower Cataract Lake

The trail climbed up above the lake’s north shore with views back to the southeast of the waterfall and some of the higher peaks of the Gore Range.

Lower Cataract Lake-Gore Range View

Lower Cataract Lake-Gore Range View

We came across a large meadow of purple pasque flowers along the trail.

Lower Cataract Lake-pasque flowers

Lower Cataract Lake-pasque flowers

The trail entered several large aspen groves.  We made a mental note that this would be a good place to come back to in the autumn.  Here’s a shot of a couple of tall aspens.

Lower Cataract Lake-aspens

The sign looking back from the direction we had come where we left the single track trail and headed onto a private road the short distance back to the car.

Lower Cataract Lake-trail sign

Some bright yellow daisies as we approached the parking lot.

Lower Cataract Lake-yellow daisies

Lower Cataract Lake-yellow daisy

We arrived back at the car around 1:20pm and headed back into Silverthorne.

4 thoughts on “Lower Cataract Lake

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