Best Base Camps

Cataract Lake (Colorado)
  |  Gorp.com
Base Camp Coordinates
Home Base: Gunnison National Forest
Location: From Lake City, head south on CO 149. Follow the turnoff to Lake Cristobal and take this road past Lake Fork. The trailhead is right near the old ghost town of Sherman.
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Cataract Lake (Colorado)
This roadless area near the old ghost town of Sherman in southern Colorado is remote. From the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, the trail follows Cataract Creek. It's in good shape but is steep and strenuous, rising from 9,600 feet to just over 12,100 feet, so plan extra time. You won't need to bring extra water: The trail climbs past cascade after cascade as it switchbacks up to Cataract Gulch. If you're coming from lower elevations, you might want to take a couple of days to acclimate to the elevation.

If you can handle the altitude, try a day hike over to 13,657-foot Carson Peak, about two miles east on the Colorado Trail. Although the peaks all top out over 12,000 feet, the terrain is an open, rolling green, more what you'd expect to find in Scotland than in the shadow of Colorado's Continental Divide. If you head the other way, down Pole Creek, you'll find more of what you'd expect of the Rocky Mountain State: craggier, rockier terrain. There are plenty of great camping spots here as well.


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