Fall Hike: Meadow Creek Trail to Eccles Pass

Distance11.06 mi
Elevation2940 feet
My Time5 hr 15 min
DifficultyHard
Closest TownFrisco
Nearby FoodHighside Brew

One of the prettiest hikes I have been on this year with a little something for everyone. It is steep and a challenge but well worth it if you can make it.

The Woods

The beginning of the hike starts in a really nice Aspen grove and there is a second grove about a half mile down the path. On this fall day the leaves were stunning and a great way to start the hike.

While it is beautiful, the trail begins to get steep right off the bat. You will have consistent inclines of high teen and early twenty percent grades. .7 miles up the road you will come to a junction with the trail to the Lilly Pad lake. This will run you to the lake and if you are just looking for fall colors might be the way to go.

If you stay on Meadow Creek like I did you will shortly enter the Eagles Nest Wilderness section of the White River National Forest. You will be completely surrounded by pine trees for the next 2 miles of the hike and you will continue to climb with grades in the 10-20% range.

The woods here are really amazing and there is stream that follows along most of this section. You will cross the stream on occasion but it is nice to be able to hear it flowing for most of the hike.

The Clearing

Around 2.8 miles the forest gives way to some open areas. While there are still trees around the sky opens up and there are large fields of willows. You also get your first real look at the surrounding mountains that will stay with you the rest of the hike.

A field of willow in the foreground with a large rocky peak in the background.

You do get a bit of a break from the incline here with elevations in just around the 10% grade. The trees will also begin to clear out the further that you go on the trail. After about a mile you will find yourself in a large open valley and surrounded on 3 sides by mountains.

The valley surrounded by mountains.

So this is really a beautiful place. You will come to another trail junction with Gore Range trail 60. To get to the pass you will need to stay on Meadow Creek but its about to get steep again.

The Pass

The trail to Eccles Pass gets really steep from the floor of the valley and up to the rim of the pass. The grade stays around the mid 20% range to get to the top of the trail. There are a couple of switchbacks to help out but it was a long slow walk for me.

When you get to the top of the pass it is absolutely stunning and worth the effort. To continue the trail you will walk across the ridgeline to the east toward Buffalo Peak. This isn’t too difficult compared to what you came from but still steep.

There are a couple of places on the top with rock piles that are a great place to stop and finally take it all in. Congrats that you made it and enjoy the amazing views!

Bonus

I usually don’t do this but I wanted a little bonus content for you today. I feel like this trail was crafted by a curator of a museum. Everything that you could look for, this trail had it.

Want some wonderful fall views? Check.

Yellow aspen leaves surround the trail with a mountain in the background.

Looking for a deep pine forest? Check.

Pine trees surround the trail with two fallen trees form an x over the trail.

Looking for a stream with frozen fingers of ice reaching down? Check.

Icicles hanging down for branches over a stream.

Heck even a small pond with the reflection of a mountain? Check.

A pond with a reflection of mountains and pine trees.

How about a river cutting through a forest? Check.

A river cutting through the forest.

And finally of course there are the mountains. Check.

The amazing views of mountain tops.

Thank you for indulging me.

Distance and Elevation

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 11.06 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 2940 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 12,055 feet. I was also moving for a total of 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Effort

Oh my this one was a doozy! An extremely steep hike with almost 3000 feet of elevation in the 5 and a half miles out. It was also really rocky in spots making for a really challenging hike. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.

Step count from today's hike was pretty high.  30,400 steps.

Terrain

The overall theme of the terrain is that it is steep. In the lower half of the trail there is a lot of rock and a lot of the rock is loose. There are also a few trees that have blown down that you will have to step over in the lower section. The middle and upper section of the trails are pretty solid dirt trails that are easy to follow. I would definitely suggest good hiking footwear and some poles to help with the elevation.

Access

The trail head is located off of the dirt road on the traffic circle at the junction of CO-9 and I-70. The dirt road is in good shape but has some ruts in it. There is a parking lot that fits about 20 cars and some cars ended up parking down the street. There are no bathroom facilities at the trailhead.

Wrap up

I absolutely loved this trail. It was one of the prettiest and most challenging trails I have been on. It felt like every few steps there was something else that gave me that “wow” feeling. I didn’t even mind how much my legs were hurting! It started for me with the sunrise over Lake Dillon and I never stopped enjoying it!

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map section you can find here. If you have a suggestion for a hike or any other comments feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me at any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

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