Holy Cross Wilderness: Tuhare Lakes, Fall Creek Pass (7/19-7/21) [Intermediate]

  • July 19, 2013 · 9:30 AM

Upper Tuhare Lake is a remarkable lake, set in a high basin surrounded by rugged, rocky splendor. Nestled snugly against the east side of Holy Cross Ridge at an altitude of 12,365 feet, Upper Tuhare Lake is very cold, very remote, very pristine, and very big. It is unusual to find such a large lake so high in the mountains of Colorado. The Holy Cross Ridge which provides the backdrop for upper Tuhare Lake is punctuated by two unnamed high thirteeners.

This trip is combined with another meetup: Colorado Queer Backpackers. We will post 4 spots to both groups. You can either meet at the trailhead the Friday morning or stay at the half moon campground on Thursday evening. Don't forget to bring cash in small bills to pay for the campsite.

Highlights: Waterfalls, wildflower and alpine lakes

(Upper Tuhare Lake at sunset)

(Upper Tuhare Lake)

(falls below Tuhare Lakes)

(falls above Tuhare Lakes)

RSVP: Opens June 19 and closes July 19

Difficulty: intermediate

Limit: 8

Solitude: The Holy Cross Wilderness is a busy place but these trails see fewer visitors

Trail Length: 15 miles point to point; shuttle 45 min; 5-6 miles daily

Elevation Gain: ft. 4800 gain, ft. loss 5000

Elevation range: 10,300 to 12,600

Information: Holy Cross District (970)[masked]

Travel time from Denver: 2.5 hours

Carpool Meeting Time: 7.00 am

Trailhead Meeting Time: 9.30 am

The Plan:

First Day Friday, hike 5 miles to a meadow above Lake Constantine; set up camp; then hike to Upper Tuhare lake; eat dinner and watch the sun set. Hike back to camp using headlamps.

Second Day Saturday, hike 6 miles over Fall Creek pass, down the seven sisters lakes, lunch at Hunky Dorey lake; continue on to Fancy Lake; setup camp

Third day Sunday, hike 2 miles down Fancy Pass trail to cars; shuttle back to the North Fall Creek trailhead; 45 min drive

Optional Evening Thursday, car camp at halfmoon campground

Directions: To halfmoon campground: Travel west on I-70 to Exit 171 for Minturn, Leadville, and Hwy 24.Turn right and travel south about 5 miles.Immediately before crossing the Eagle River, turn right onto Tigiwon Road - FSR 707 and continue up this dirt road for 8 miles to the campground at the end.

Trail Descriptions:

Fall Creek North Trailhead: the trail climbs gradually to Lake Constantine. After crossing Fall Creek, the trail climbs abruptly to the alpine meadows below Fall Creek Pass.

Fall Creek trail to Tuhare Lakes: this is a primitive trail with a good deal of elevation gain. Within just a few minutes of leaving Fall Creek the trail comes to a granite outcropping where some scrambling is necessary. Following that it reaches a plateau where you can enjoy a few minutes of level ground before again continuing the climb. The waterfall on the north side of the canyon will be in full view as you continue upward, and the scenery just keeps getting better.

Fall Creek trail to Fancy lake: over the pass, the trail drops down to the Seven Sisters Lakes and then to Hunky Dory Lake.


Mosquitos might be an issue. Please bring Deet or something that works for you. Be sure to follow Pack-it-in and pack-it-out, Leave no Trace Practices and follow Wilderness Regulations.

Lightning strikes are a serious risk in summer. Follow the 30/30 Rule. Count the time between a lightning flash and the sound of thunder. Sound travels roughly one mile in five seconds. If the time between the lightning and thunder is less than 30 seconds, that means you're well within the danger zone and need to find a safe spot.

Dogs are allowed and must be leashed in accordance with wilderness regulations.

Food Storage and Cooking:

Bear-proofing precautions and practices are required. We cook 300 feet away from the tents and keep all food and odorous items in a bear-resistant canister, Ursack, or hang it in a tree away from camp. Most backpackers hang their food and items that smell. If you have questions, please ask me. Always filter backcountry water.

Procedure for signing up on this trip:

RSVP and sign the Colorado Backers Meetup Group Terms of Understanding (below). If you do not complete the Terms of Understanding, you will be wait-listed. You must complete the form for every trip.

Waiver and Release:
Please Note: Participants attending this trip must sign the Colorado Backpackers Meetup Group Terms of Understanding and contact information using this link:


Completing this required form will act as your electronic signature & acknowledgment that you have read and understand the Terms of Understanding. If this is not received, I cannot guarantee that you will receive all the trip info including trailhead location, time changes, carpooling info, or other final planning information. If you do not complete the form, you will be removed from the trip. You are responsible for transportation to and from trailhead.

Your electronic signature is also your understanding that by attending this Meetup event you understand that backpacking has its inherent risks, including but not limited to injuries where there is no 911 help. You are responsible for your own safety, the equipment to keep you safe and your travel through the backcountry. All decisions are made with safety first.

Gear essentials: Food, Water, Water filter, Warm clothing you can layer, First Aid Kit, Knife/multitool, Headlamp, Ability to start fire in any weather, Stove & Fuel, toilet paper, trash bag, Warm Sleeping Bag & Pad, Tent that keeps the weather off you, full rain gear jacket & pants (ponchos don't work), Sunglasses, Hat & Sunscreen. If you don't know what to pack see the list on our site.

Click the image for larger version:

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  • Jeff D.

    trip video

    http://youtu.be/n-_H9dj6gvk Out takes and mistakes


    Sooo many great photos... did my best rolling them in!


    July 24, 2013

  • Elizabeth B.

    Well on our way. Planning to be looking for people at campground no later the. 9am. yeepee yahoooooo

    July 19, 2013

  • Jeremiah M.

    Hi Mike. Glad you can join us! Are you going to be camping Thursday night or meeting at the trailhead Friday morning? With 40+ years of experience, I can't wait to hear your stories.

    July 17, 2013

    • Jeremiah M.

      Me, Ali, and Julie are going Thursday night.

      1 · July 17, 2013

    • Jeremiah M.

      Great! We Ali and I will be there between 730 and 830

      July 18, 2013

  • Elizabeth B.

    Dave and I are RSVP at the hiking with pride website. See you all fri am !!! Ps my backpacking Sammy is coming too, small dog

    July 16, 2013

  • Jeremiah M.

    My final email turned out to not be final. Other than hitchhiking, the point to point shuttle won't work since half of us are coming on Thursday and half on Friday morning. I am changing the trip to an in-and-out.

    Fear not. Most of the trip will remain the same. We are going to camp two nights above Lake Constantine instead of one. On Saturday we can explore the same areas we had planned to see up to Fancy Lake.

    Nothing else changes. If you have questions, post here or shoot me an email.

    1 · July 16, 2013

  • Dustin

    Anyone driving up from Denver on Friday morning? I'm down for carpooling from the Mammoth lot.

    July 16, 2013

    • Dustin

      Just saw the email :) see you all Friday morning at the trail head!

      July 16, 2013

  • Jeremiah M.

    Okay. I was probably just considering one way. I will recalculate and update the meetup.

    1 · July 15, 2013

  • Julie

    Jeremiah - the shuttle will take more like 2 hrs to set up:

    July 14, 2013

  • kenneth N.

    Sorry, I am not able to get to Colorado this next week, Ken

    July 14, 2013

  • Dustin

    Hello! I got an email that a spot opened up, but it looks like everyone is still in. Any idea if there is really a spot open? Thanks!

    July 13, 2013

  • Shannon D.

    just an fyi, those are both lower Tuhare Lake. Here is huge pano of the upper lake. http://dizmangphotography.smugmug.com/Vacation/Landscape/16597447_x8Z2fB#!i=[masked]&k=LD2TXsN&lb=1&s=A

    July 8, 2013

    • Jeff D.

      Check out all of Shannon's Photos on the link - he shoots GREAT photographs

      July 9, 2013

  • Shannon D.

    Funny how the web works. Those 2 top photos are freaking awesome. :) http://dizmangphotography.smugmug.com/Vacation/Landscape/16597447_x8Z2fB#!i=[masked]&k=bwHLCK2 1 of my favorite locations Have a good trip.

    July 8, 2013

  • Jeremiah M.

    Hi Everyone. Right now, most of us have said we will camp at the trailhead Thursday night, but of course we are 2 weeks out. I'll post again on July 15th so we can finalize carpooling. Have a great 4th of July!

    July 2, 2013

  • Ali B

    I am in

    June 24, 2013

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