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Abyss Lake - 17.1 miles - Advanced

  • Jun 29, 2013 · 6:15 AM
  • This location is shown only to members



Meet at The Fort on Highway 8 in Morrison (about half a mile north off of 285 at the Morrison exit)

We will leave the Fort at 6:30 a.m. sharp (if not earlier)!  Please try to arrive around 6:15 a.m.  If you do not plan to meet at the pre-meet, please let me know in advance so that we are not waiting on you.  Also, it is completely okay for you to meet there and still drive to the trailhead by yourself if that is your preference.

WE WILL HIT THE TRAIL ONCE WE HAVE ARRIVED FROM THE PRE-MEET (approximately 7:30 to 7:45am).  We will not wait on you if you are not at the pre-meet so please plan accordingly.









From Denver, drive south on U.S. 285 to the small town of Grant.  From Grant, travel north on the well-maintained Guanella Pass Road for 5.2 miles to the Abyss Trailhead, at 9,600 feet, on the eas side of the road.



Round Trip Distance: Approx. 16 Miles (the book says 16.... but my "ghost writer" says 17.1)

Start-End Elevation: 9,654' - 12,650' (12,666' max elevation)

Elevation Change:+2,996' net elevation gain (+3,283' total roundtrip elevation gain)

Skill Level: Strenuous

Dogs Allowed:Yes (leashed at ALL times)












Abyss Lake is located in a deep glacial cirque between Mt Bierstadt (14,060') and Mt Evans (14,265').

The Abyss Trail begins 20 miles south of Georgetown on Guanella Pass Road, and travels 8.55 miles northeast through the Mt Evans Wilderness to the lake.

While the lake is exceptional, the hike to it is equally compelling. Visitors will enjoy pristine valleys, abundant aspen, open alpine travel and excellent backcountry camping en route to Abyss Lake:

The trail begins on a steady grade through uniform lodge pole and young aspen (1.0 miles : 10,020'). It crosses south over Scott Gomer Creek (2.15 miles : 10,162') and levels beside it through dense aspen.

There are several established campsites on this stretch with great views up-valley. Look for moose in the willow-shrouded creek corridor.

The trail crosses back over the creek (3.2 miles : 10,395') and climbs steeply away on a rocky, shifting path to a large, marshy meadow (3.8 miles : 10,682').

The valley opens and forest breaks at the first of two Rosalie Trail splits (4.2 miles : 10,880'). Follow signs to the second Rosalie - Abyss Trail split (4.4 miles : 10,878').

Here the trail becomes steep, faint, and obstructed by several down trees. Though brief, this section is difficult to navigate and reclaim the trail once off course. Pay close attention to your progress and location.  {This is a new hike for me... so route finding in these parts may be a group effort}

Travel moderates in a thinning forest touched by wildfire (5.0 miles : 11,265'), and levels across expanding meadows with many good places to camp (5.5 miles : 11,430').

It weaves through the vestiges of treeline to Helms Lake (11,750' : 6.15 miles), a worthwhile destination in itself. The lake's south slope provides good terrain and tree-cover for backpackers.

The trail intuitively skirts the lake, but is enveloped by willow and difficult to follow. You'll likely get wet improvising to the far side where it clarifies on drier ground.

The trail continues NE above the lake into open alpine with views of Mt Bierstadt, Mt Evans, andEpaulet Mountain (13,523'). It crosses Lake Fork Creek (7.2 miles : 12,168') and turns sharply NW for the cirque.

Short, steep intervals moderate in rolling alpine tundra to Abyss Lake (8.55 miles : 12,650'). The lake's south shore and outlying tarns are easy to explore. Glass the cirque walls for mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and hikers on Mt Bierstadt and Mt Evans.

GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84 (As a disclaimer.... someone added these to this event for me.  I have no idea where they came from.  I'm am appreciative of the person who added this as I am not a GPS person, but please keep that I did not add these and don't know who did.  Use your best judgment.  :)

View these GPS points on a Google Map


  • N[masked] W[masked] — 0.0 miles : Abyss Trailhead on Guanella Pass Road
  • N[masked] W[masked] — .5 miles : Steady, rocky climb
  • N[masked]  W[masked] — 1.0 miles : Steady climb through lodgepole and aspen
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 1.5 miles : Grade moderates thru meadow
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 2.0 miles : Flat stretch to creek crossing
  • N[masked]  W[masked] — 2.5 miles : Level stretch throuh dense aspen
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 3.2 miles : Cross creek, begin steep climb
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 3.8 miles : Cross stream on rickety bridge
  • N[masked]  W[masked] — 4.2 miles : Abyss - Rosalie Trail split #1
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 4.4 miles : Abyss - Rosalie Trail split #2
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 5.0 miles : Steep, shifting trail around deadfall
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 5.5 miles : Thinning alpine forest thru 11,400'
  • N[masked]  W[masked] — 6.15 miles : Unnamed lake at 11,750'
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 6.25 miles : Clear trail resumes past lake
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 6.8 miles : Cross creek and rise above last of willow
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 7.5 miles : Moderate climb in open alpine
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 8.0 miles : Mild grade on final approach
  • N[masked] W[masked] — 8.55 miles : Abyss Lake




Brooks Place Tavern

27175 Main St
Ste 100

Conifer, CO 80433

The website is momentarily disabled... but it will be tasty after a long day's hike!



1) By coming on this hike, you acknowledge that you have READ, UNDERSTAND AND AGREE TO OUR GENERAL RULES, PHILOSOPHY AND LIABILITY WAIVER ON THE MAIN PAGE. We are not responsible for your safety, behavior or whereabouts at any time during an outing. Please use common sense.

2) Bring extra water (and food), as high elevations dehydrate the body at a faster rate. This is a very long hike.  Please be prepared for all eventualities (including weather, injury and nightfall).  You never know what might happen when you're looking at a long day like this.

3) Hiking poles would be helpful for some of the steep grades and uneven terrain.

4) Please remember that mountain hiking might mean that we end up spreading out according to our pace and fitness levels.  That being said, most of you know that I am of the philosphy that people show up to meet-up events to hike together.  I will ask that you not wander off and that you wait up at trail junctions and other reasonable intervals if you hike faster than the rest of the group.  While you are responsible for your own well-being, I believe this is part of being a good group member.  Along the same lines, please be confident that you are in shape to do this hike (and at a good pace) before signing up.  This is a long day and we will need to proceed at a good clip in the morning in particular to avoid storms.

6) Bring a change of shoes for the restaurant. Your feet will thank you!

7) Have fun!!

Join or login to comment.

  • Jim "JP" P.

    Awesome hike! Great folks! I had so much fun! Thanks for organizing, Beth!

    June 30, 2013

  • Aimee

    Had a great time meeting everyone! Thanks for leading Beth!

    June 30, 2013

  • Sean

    Good to hike with everyone - glad nobody got struck by lightning. This was a long. tough hike to lead - good job Beth!

    June 29, 2013

  • Jeff

    Awesome day, awesome company - thanks for for organizing Beth!

    June 29, 2013

  • Beth

    Thanks everyone for an amazing day. Can't wait to see the photos!

    June 29, 2013

  • Julie M.

    I absolutley loved this hike! It was challenging and beautiul the entire hike. It was great to meet everyone and I look forward the the next hike!

    4 · June 29, 2013

  • Jeff

    Getting psyched for tomorrow!

    1 · June 28, 2013

  • Ian M.

    I afraid I am going to have to pull out and make way for someone else. I need a shorter day tomorrow. I am looking forward to doing this again the next time (hopefully there will be one).

    June 28, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    So I'm getting a little nervous. This isn't my first time hiking, but I've never been on this long of a hike... Is everyone going an expert hiker, or mixed? I just don't want to be slowing people down...

    June 27, 2013

    • Beth

      To finish, I was going to say we'd love to have you but will catch you on another hike if you decide this isn't the right one for you. :). Your call. You can also email me privately wilTh more questions.

      June 27, 2013

    • Aaron

      I've hiked and backpacked a lot. I'm a sloppy preparer on shorter hikes. Sometimes I'll leave essential gear behind just to do without, for fun. Hikes less than five miles, I'll often carry nothing, not even water.

      I'm taking this hike quite seriously. I'll have sun protection, hiking poles, headlamp, extra food, navigation, etc. Two liters of water and extra in the car. Some people may carry more water, but I prefer less weight, which I will also be considering.

      I don't want to scare you off, but these are the things I'm thinking about. If I knew your fitness and experience level, I could give a better opinion what you should do.

      1 · June 27, 2013

  • Shaun W.

    I had something come up in the afternoon that I must go to and I don't think we will be back in time. I will bare off and leave it for someone on the waiting list. Sorry. Next time!

    June 27, 2013

  • Shaun W.

    Any idea on the time we will be back at the trailhead on this, approximately?

    June 26, 2013

    • Beth

      Very hard to say as I haven't hiked with everyone in the group before and this is my first time for this trail. I'd like to say 4, but that's a stab in the dark. Timing could vary wildly.

      June 26, 2013

    • Jeff

      We should be back as soon as we're done, I would guess.

      1 · June 26, 2013

  • Sean

    This is a scenic area and will make for a great hike. Thanks for organizing.

    June 26, 2013

  • Aaron

    I'm on Booth Lake next day. Gonna camp somewhere in between Saturday night, if any Booth people want to join.

    June 26, 2013

  • Dahlia

    I am meeting at the carpool

    June 25, 2013

    • Beth

      Excellent. I am asking everyone to meet at the Fort unless they tell me they are making other arrangements. Folks can still drive their own cars if they don't want to carpool. It's just easier to collect everyone that way.

      June 26, 2013

  • Leila

    Not feeling up to such a strenuous hike..let someone else have my spot.

    June 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Is it ok if I bring my pup?

    June 25, 2013

    • Beth

      I have no objection so long as he/she is leashed at all times within park regulations (I think there's a rule on leash length, etc. which you will need to research) and is up for the trek! As a group, we need to be very careful to comply with park/wilderness area rules at all times.

      June 25, 2013

  • Anne

    Hey Beth, sorry to miss this one, made other plans while on wait list. See you on Eccles trip!

    June 24, 2013

  • Rob

    Sorry to back out I was looking forward to this but I am going to be out of town this weekend.

    June 21, 2013

  • Beth

    Hi folks... I moved the meet time on this up by a half hour. I spent part of yesterday hiking off an overnight trip in hail and substantial lightning (before noon) when the weather reports had called for less than a 10% chance of rain. It was a very blunt reminder that summer and its storms are here! I'd really like to be able to make the final lake before any storms roll in. :)

    June 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I haven't asked my friend yet but I'm sure she will come!

    May 7, 2013

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