Grouse Lake, Grouse Creek Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Grouse Lake - 9.4 miles
Grouse Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||9.4 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||7,835' - 10,728' (10,740' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,893' net elevation gain (+3,010' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Grouse Lake - 9.4 Miles Round-Trip
Grouse Lake (10,728') is located 4.7 miles from Grouse Creek Trailhead in the Holy Cross Wilderness. It lies in a wide, level basin ringed by thick timber and marshy willow below Grouse Mountain (12,726’). While the lake aesthetic is limited, the hike itself is compelling.
The Grouse Lake Trail closely follows Grouse Creek through grassy aspen groves into thick coniferous forests up to the lake. These aspen groves are especially attractive, and abundant flowers and berries highlight lower portions of the trail.
The kinetic creek offers many good places to camp, and wide oxbows on the lake’s outlet are ideal for fishing. The trail is moderate with the exception of two short steep sections and potentially voluminous creek crossings during the runoff:
The Grouse Lake Trail heads SW across open grassy slopes to the Grouse Lake – West Grouse Creek Trail split (.55 miles : 8,145’). The Grouse Lake Trail veers left; the West Grouse Creek Trail veers right with access to Waterdog Lake, Olsen Lake and the Turquois Lakes.
The Grouse Lake Trail rises through intervals of aspen and mixed pine to a vaguely marked obstruction at 1.0 mile (8,437’). This relatively new re-route forces you (right) across two braids of the creek to the west side of the valley. Note the trail is not immediately obvious until reaching the far side.
Once over, travel levels through idyllic aspen groves rife with wildflowers. The trail curls back to the creek, again crossing two successive braids back to the east side of the valley (1.5 and 1.55 miles : 8,745’). The second braid can be a little tricky.
The trail climbs steeply up the east side of the creek through uniformly tall and beetle-marred lodgepole. It gradually moderates through 1.9 miles (9,130’) to another creek crossing (right) at 2.4 miles (9,430’). The bridge is out, and the ford is difficult with swift water.
The trail climbs steeply up the west side of the creek, soon moderating for an extended period in a diverse forest broken by sunny glades and large, open slopes ideal for seeing wildlife.
It passes through a large meadow at 3.9 miles (10,240’), and re-enters thick timber with some potentially vague sections ahead. The trail shifts quickly, but in each case is intuitively followed beside the creek up to Grouse Lake (4.7 miles : 10,728’).
Grouse Mountain crowns the backdrop of this pleasant but subjectively unspectacular basin. Social trails continue around the lake’s west side with ample room for fishing and exploration.
- N39 35.633 W106 26.056 — 0.0 miles : Grouse Creek Trailhead
- N39 35.367 W106 26.464 — .55 miles : Grouse Lake - W. Grouse Creek Trail split
- N39 35.003 W106 26.552 — 1.0 miles : Ostruction - turn right and cross 2 braids of creek
- N39 34.693 W106 26.804 — 1.5 miles : Cross creek to left
- N39 34.659 W106 26.827 — 1.55 miles : Cross wider section of creek to left
- N39 34.397 W106 27.186 — 2.0 miles : Steep climb above creek moderates
- N39 34.143 W106 27.460 — 2.4 miles : Cross wide section of creek
- N39 33.718 W106 27.763 — 3.0 miles : Steady, moderate climb
- N39 33.352 W106 27.992 — 3.5 miles : Moderate travel through subalpine transition
- N39 32.985 W106 28.118 — 3.95 miles : Pass through large, level meadow
- N39 32.788 W106 28.245 — 4.2 miles : Trail shifts quickly on potentially vague path
- N39 32.529 W106 28.526 — 4.7 miles : Grouse Lake
- Stream crossings can be voluminous, especially during the early summer runoff. Anticipate deadfall across the trail, and potentially vague sections higher up.
- Be bear aware. Bears inhabit this area, especially lower sections of the trail in aspen meadows and along the creek where berries are abundant in late summer.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. There is no fee. Self-registration permits are available at the trailhead. Backpackers must carry a completed registration form with them for the duration of the trip.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
- Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area.
- Contact the Holy Cross Ranger District (970.827.5715) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.
- There are numerous developed campgrounds in the White River National Forest. Contact the Holy Cross Ranger District for information on these sites.
- Fishing is permitted at Grouse Lake and along Grouse Creek with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- The Holy Cross Wilderness requires a member of each party to self-register at the trailhead and carry a copy of this form with them for the duration of their trip. There is no fee or limit to the number of permits that can be issued. These free permits are designed to help the Holy Cross Wilderness manage land use for the future.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Grouse Creek Trailhead is located 1.4 miles south of I-70 (Exit 171) on Highway 24.
From I-70, take Exit 171 (just west of West Vail) and follow it south past the Holy Cross Ranger District Office to the Trailhead on the right.
Holy Cross Ranger District
24747 US Highway 24
Minturn, CO 81645
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602