Backpacking Missouri Lakes
Length of Trip: 2 days +
Trail: Missouri Lakes Trail
Length: 7 Miles RT
Elevation Gain: 1,000+
Where: Holy Cross Wilderness
Directions: Denver to the Missouri Lakes Trailhead
We only had one weekend to do a backpacking trip so we decided to do the popular Missouri Lakes hike. Yes, I said popular and after an overnight backpacking trip, I can totally understand why. This area of the Holy Cross wilderness is absolutely stunning.
After our last backpacking trip to Lone Eagle Peak, we really wanted a short hike in so we could relax and enjoy the area so we did not do the full Missouri Lakes, Fancy Lakes Loop Trail. Instead, we did backpack just to Missouri Lakes for an epic one-night backpacking trip.
The trail to Missouri Lakes is about 3.5 miles in so this was an easy hike in giving us plenty of time to explore the area. Missouri Lakes is made up of lots of small lakes with trails zigzagging between each lake and pond with large boulder outcrops. The area was quite popular but there were so many hiking spots we didn’t feel too crowded.
Getting to Missouri Lakes Trailhead
When backpacking you always want an early start. Afternoon weather in the mountains can be very unpredictable. Ideally, you have set up camp by mid-afternoon. So I do suggest camping in the area the night before.
We grabbed dinner in Vail and headed towards Red Cliff. Before you get to Red Cliff we did lose cell service so prepare of that. After Red Cliff, you will turn off Highway 24 onto route 703. There is a designated campground right off the road but there is also plenty of dispersed camping along this road leading to the trailhead.
Where to Camp at Missouri Lakes
There are a few lakes once you get to the top and plenty of places to camp. It was quite windy that day so we found a spot in the trees that kept us protected. We saw some people camped on the far side of the lake who tents look like they were taking a beating.
Learn More About Missouri Lakes
Pro Trails has great information on the hike and All Trails is great to check recent reports of the area. Before you head out download the Hiking Project app. You can download the map of your hike and track yourself. One to make sure you are still on the trail, two it shows where you are on the elevation. Which can be super gratifying or miserable when you realize you still have the climb ahead of you!
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