The hike to Pass Creek Lake trail climbs to a high mountain basin and a small lake at the treeline. The beginning of the hike is rocky and steep, but the middle gets easier with a gently rolling trail along Pass Creek through pine and aspen forest. The final push to the lake is again steep, and you’ll cross several small streams.
The small lake had tons of native trout that were constantly leaping out of the water for flies or mosquitos and I was able to get a few pictures of them.
The total distance, according to my GPS, was 7.2 miles roundtrip – according the the book I have, it’s 6.4 and according the the sign at the trailhead, it’s 8. Take your pick. 🙂 The elevation starts at 9,661′ and climbs to 11,360′.
The dirt road to the trailhead requires a high clearance 4WD vehicle and you should definitely watch out for the old guy who has mining rights in the area. I was the only person parked at the trailhead – there is only room for about 5-6 vehicles – but as I returned to my truck, there he sat in his SUV – directly across the base of the trail – with a gun (I didn’t actually see the gun but his holster was empty so I’m going to assume he had it in his hand hidden from my view) and an old leather bandolier worn across his chest – full of what looked like 45s.
I did stop to talk to him, mostly because he WAS blocking the way, and he said that he just wanted to make sure I wasn’t helping myself to any of his gold or copper. I guess he’d been having a few problems with folks not reading his “federal mineral rights” signs and helping themselves. Seemed like a guy pretty close to his breaking point if you ask me. I just smiled and did my best to convince him I was harmless. 😐