The WildLife: Lower Cataract Lake

Lower Cataract Lake
Lower Cataract Lake
Lower Cataract Lake


This week has been a harsh reminder that fall is just around the corner, and I simply am not ready. So I propose that we all run outside immediately and relish in the last days of summer adventures.

The Lower Cataract Lake Loop Trail is a short and sweet trail that packs a huge punch. It is a solidified mecca of diverse and beautiful wildlife. This little gem offers fields full of sage, wildflowers, aspen groves, spruce forests and a waterfall for the finale. These are just the guaranteed features of the lake, since Lower Cataract Lake is full of Mountain Trout; there are plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife.

Hiking Trail Loop at Cataract Lake
Hiking Trail Loop at Cataract Lake






Lower Cataract Lake can be accessed traveling west on I-70 and taking exit #205 towards Silverthorne. When you exit head north on Highway 9 for 16.5 miles then take a left onto Heeney Road #30. Cruise down along side of Green Mountain Reservoir for another 5.4 miles to Colorado Road 1725. This road can be tricky to spot as the turn is a hard left back up the canyon. Follow the dirt road back for the final 2.6 miles, signs for various hikes and lakes, including Lower Cataract, will soon appear on the shoulder to help you discover the trail-head. This hike is off the beaten path so you won’t be hiking in front of an audience.


Fisherman at Lower Cataract Lake


Once you arrive at the trail-head you will be greeted by three distinct paths. The right and left forks will take you around the loop trail; I am trusting that you can decide which path is right for you. Heading down the center path will take you directly to the lake. If you are looking for fishing resist the urge to put in right away. I am no luring expert; however I have a few friends who are. For a good bite they highly recommend hiking to the mouth of the river below the falls on the far side of the Lower Cataract Lake. The fish tend to favor this location so you may have better luck; this side of the lake is also beautiful sight for a picnic. You can catch a view of the entire lake and the canyon walls headed down toward the valley.


The Falls above Lower Cataract Lake cascade over 300 ft down sheer mountain cliffs, the soundtrack is mesmerizing. Cataract falls were created by the uplifting of the ridge which started around 5 million years ago. Lower Cataract Lake trail does not access the top of the falls but you do cross over the lower portions of the rapids. The loop’s highest elevation is at 8,805 Ft, and offers spectacular views of the Gore Range and the Eagle’s Nest Peak. The jagged peak boasts the title of the second highest peak in the range.

The Deets:

How far?

  • 92 Miles West of Denver

Where to park?

  • Lower Cataract Lake Trail-head

Trail-head Elevation?

  • 8,652 Ft.
    Wildflower Fields
    Wildflower Fields

Elevation Gain?

  • 312 Ft. Round-trip



  • Easy


  • 2.4 miles Round-trip


  • Hiking, Fishing-Permitted with Valid License, Picnicking, Waterfalls, Camping, Running, Photo-OP, Dogs Allowed on Leash, Back-country Camping-No Permit Required

Extra goodies?

  • Cataract Lake Campground, Eaglesmere Trail-head, Surprise Trail-head, Heeney, Green Mountain Reservoir, Silverthorne, Eagle Nest Wilderness

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