Mirror Lake, especially on a weekday, has to be one of the best destinations I know of for escaping the Rocky Mountain National Park trail traffic. Other than three rangers coming out as we started in, we never saw another hiker all day. This I’m sure is due to the fact that the trailhead is located up the Poudre Canyon, and a couple miles outside the park’s north border. So, it was 7:55 AM, Thursday, August 15th, 2013, when Suzy and I started up the trail from the Corral Creek Trailhead.
An hour and a half up the trail, as the grade started getting a little steeper, we came up on a young buck. He ran up the hill for 20 yards or so but stopped, with an ornery look, to watch us.
Ten minutes further up the trail, we saw this little critter. I’ve always enjoyed watching these Douglas (Pine, or Chickaree) squirrels; they are so - squirrely.
Three hours and forty minutes on the trail now, we were getting fairly close to the lake, and as we hiked past a small meadow, we saw this little falls on the other side. We watched closely for moose in the area but didn't see any.
Almost exactly four hours after leaving the trailhead, we arrived at Mirror Lake. It was beautiful, sitting under the east face of Mount Ikoko, and we ate some lunch while we took in the view.
We crossed Cascade Creek and walked over to the lake’s southwest corner. Suzy picked out a rock for some lazy lounging in the sun, while I worked up the slope for a while to see what I could see.
The SW slope was full of wildflowers. I wanted to work up to Mount Ikoko’s south slope, and then summit, but I settled for just enough height to see the pond north of the lake.
A close-up of the pond shows just how close it is to the lake. There’s a little waterfall cascade on the short creek running down from the pond, just out of this shot to the left (west).
Coming back down the slope, I met one of the resident marmots. They are cute, but don’t ever leave your pack on the ground unguarded with one in the area.
Much of the upper forest floor on this hike has a beautiful green cover. At 2:25 PM, on our way back down, I finally had to stop and get a picture of it.
At 3:50 PM, we were back at the convergence of the Cache La Poudre River - coming in from the south (left) - and the La Poudre Pass Creek - coming in from the southwest (right). This is the north boundary of the Park. We still had about one hour to go to finish off the hike.
We made it back to the jeep at 5:00 PM and were heading back down the dirt road, jabbering away and feeling good, when this moose caught Suzy’s eye 30 yards out in a small clearing. Seeing it along the roadside at the end of the day was mildly disappointing - I would have rather seen it during the hike - but it was better than no sighting at all.
The GPS showed that, jeep to jeep, the hike took 8 1/2 hours, totaled 13.95 miles, had a total elevation gain of 2,479 feet, and reached a max elevation of 11,206 feet. I would love to do this again sometime with enough gear for a three or four day stay at the lake.
National Park Service - Climbing and Mountaineering in Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks
U.S. National Parks Net - Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Guide