You’ll find John Muir quotes posted at the signage near Monarch Lake, soul-stirring kickstarters to the adventure ahead. Possibilities are endless from the trail “Y” before the lake. Outside Granby, this is your gateway to the Indian Peaks Wilderness, a slice of rugged paradise. We implore you to stay straight for Crater Lake, 7.3 miles away. Onward to the mountain, among Colorado’s most striking.

Lone Eagle Peak’s beauty is every bit as photo-worthy as the Maroon Bells. Fortunately for solitude seekers, the granite wonder appearing like a perfect triangle over the emerald lake is not nearly as accessible.

Seth Boster approaches Lone Eagle Peak. Photo Credit: Jakob Rodgers.

Wilderness rules apply here. Whether you intend to camp or make a hard day trip of it, know before you go.

From the parking area, pass the gate to Monarch Lake. The trail skirts the lake long enough for the terrain to shift from dirt to rock. The uphill is obvious at about 1½ miles, where you’ll stay left.

Cascade Trail is aptly named for several waterfalls you’ll encounter while crossing streams over log bridges. In summer, you’ll be treated with popping wildflowers and in fall, glowing aspen trees among the pine-scented woods, eye-catching rock outcrops and pristine valleys.

Lone Eagle Peak - Steven Bratman
Photo Credit: Steven Bratman.

At the next intersection, stay straight for the Cascade Trail. After 4 miles, the trees clear to reveal rocky ridges high above, swooping around higher promontories. On this trip, we spotted three moose here. Be on the lookout on the trail, especially where there are willows.

Another junction sign points right to Crater Lake. Go that way, and on the return, don’t forget to turn left here rather than make the easy mistake of going straight. You’ll soon arrive at another breathtaking clearing, where Lone Eagle Peak can be seen with its glacier neighbors. See cairns directing you straight ahead to the trail, which switchbacks yet again before the destination.

You’ll want to stop at Mirror Lake for the first humbling view of Lone Eagle. Facing it, see the trail continuing right to Crater Lake.

Trip log: 15 miles, 2,500 feet elevation gain, 10,500 feet max

Difficulty: Moderate-difficult

Getting there: Go west on Interstate 70 and exit onto U.S. 40. Go through Winter Park and in Granby, turn right for U.S. 34 east. After about 5 miles, turn right onto County Road 6 and follow to trailhead.

FYI: $5 fee for parking; kiosk on your left after you pull onto County Road 6. Hiking only in wilderness. Dogs on leash. For camping regulations, click here.

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