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Gore Lake Trail

Colorado Adventure 2018 | Friday – Sunday, August 3-5, 2018

A number of years ago I used to take a week off from work during the summer and spend it exploring the mountains of Colorado with my Jeep. Earlier this year I decided that it was time to revive that tradition so I took off the first full week in August and planned to climb some mountains in other ranges besides the San Juans and the Elks. However, before heading off into the mountains on my own, I planned a long weekend backpacking trip with Diane in the Gore Range near Vail. Originally, this was supposed to be a two night backpacking trip on the Snow Pass Loop, but the weather we woke up to on Sunday morning would have other plans for us.

Diane and I both left after work on Friday afternoon in separate vehicles and she followed me to the Gore Creek Trailhead just east of Vail where we would be spending the night. As I got off I-70 in Vail I realized that though I’ve driven through town numerous times, this is the first time I’ve actually ever got off the interstate in Vail before! After arriving at the trailhead I walked along the creek for a short distance until sunset and then we went to bed early. Shortly after sunset a storm moved into the area that produced a lot of lightning, thunder and rain. This storm would make everything wet for our hike on Saturday morning.

A small cascade on Gore Creek near the trailhead.

Gore Creek Cascade

Since we were already at the trailhead and only had about 6 miles of hiking with 2,500 feet of elevation gain, we slept in a bit on Saturday morning before getting started. It was very humid out this morning because of the rain overnight and there was steam rising off everything that the sun touched as we hiked along Gore Creek. We took our time and made it to Gore Lake in the early afternoon and found a nice campsite just as it started to rain. We quickly set up our tent in the rain, but of course it stopped just as we got it up. I wasn’t feeling very well when we first arrived at the lake, so I got in the tent and rested for a while. While I wasn’t expecting this to be a trip full of solitude since I knew the lake would most likely be pretty popular on the weekend, this place ended up being way more crowded than I thought it would be! Not only that, but many of the people were setting up their campsites right on the shore of the lake instead of the proper 100 feet away! There was at least one large group that was too big for the wilderness area regulations and of course they were also very loud. This was certainly not the wilderness experience I was looking for.

Entering the Eagles Nest Wilderness on the Gore Creek Trail.

Eagles Nest Wilderness Sign

Diane hikes ahead of me after climbing the steepest part of the Gore Lake Trail.

Gore Lake Trail

Arriving at Gore Lake.

Gore Lake

Diane and I went for a short hike around the lake closer to sunset and then I climbed up to a high point neary to check out the view over Gore Creek towards Red Buffalo Pass. Besides the smoke that started to blow in from nearby wildfires in the late afternoon, there were also too many clouds and the sunset ended up getting rained out. I walked back to camp after getting shut out and found that there were at least six new tents near ours and there were more people streaming in looking for places to camp well into the night. It was ridiculous! I guess this is why I avoid getting too close to the Front Range very often, unless it’s in a place that requires permits. As soon as I reached the tent we went to bed early. It started raining again just after we got into our sleeping bags and it would rain for at least a couple of hours before stopping.

A view from the opposite side of the lake during our hike around it.

Opposite End

Diane along the shore of Gore Lake.

Along the Shore of Gore Lake

A smoky view over Gore Creek from the high point I climbed up to.

Smoky View from Above

Hiking back down to Gore Lake just before sunset.

Exploring Above The Lake

It started raining very hard and got pretty windy around 4:00am and lasted until about an hour after sunrise. When the rain finally stopped for the first time we got out of the tent to find that we were now in the clouds. This was certainly not what the weather forecast had predicted for the weekend when I checked the previous morning. A couple waves of storms rolled in and out of the area all morning.

Waking up in the clouds.

Waking Up In The Clouds

This was not a bad view to wake up to…

Mountains In The Clouds

Camp in the Clouds

Camp In The Clouds

Trees & Clouds

A small tarn near our camp.

Foggy Tarn

Tarn In The Clouds

I liked the reflection in this small pool.

Reflecting Pool

The following two photos show the movement of clouds in front of the peaks.

Low Clouds

Low Clouds II

Dark sky with a little light finally peeking through.

Dark Sky

Gore Lake Spotlight

After waiting and hoping for things to clear up all morning, we finally decided that it would not be a good idea to try and get over Snow Pass in these conditions so we ended up calling the trip a day early and headed back down the same way we had come instead of completing the loop. The hordes of people in the area also helped make this an easy decision for us. As we were taking down our tent a guy who had setup his camp way too close to ours the previous evening started setting up a drone and was just about ready to launch it until I walked over and put a stop to it. He knew it was against the rules and was going to do it anyway! After our camp was packed up we headed back down the steep trail.

The clouds began to dissipate as we got ready to hike back down the trail.

Dissipating Clouds

A parting shot from Gore Lake.

Gore Lake Parting Shot

Ready to leave the lake and head back to the trailhead.

Ready To Descend

Diane hiking ahead of me through an open meadow.

Leaving Gore Lake

Descending the steepest part of the trail.

Steep Trail Descent

Two graves located at the junction of the trails.

Trail Junction Graves

Following the trail through the lush green forest.

Green Trail

The log bridge over Deluge Creek.

Deluge Creek Bridge

Almost back to the trailhead.

Almost Back

When we reached the trailhead near the interstate Diane and I parted ways as she returned home and I continued on my Colorado Adventure!

>> Gore Lake Trail Photo Gallery


  1. Dianne
    Dianne August 21, 2018

    Beautiful captures. I love the reflections.

  2. Dianne
    Dianne August 23, 2018

    Randy, do you use a polarizer when you photograph on Cedar Mesa and other red rock areas??

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat August 23, 2018

      I very rarely use a polarizer. Typically only when really necessary to remove reflections or glare.

  3. Dianne
    Dianne August 26, 2018

    Thanks for that.

  4. Debra
    Debra September 3, 2018

    Enjoyed your pics of the beautiful area especially the ones lightly layered in fog. Common courtesy and following rules help trails and hiking areas remain open for others to enjoy. Some people just don’t get it. Thanks for caring.

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