So some clients of mine here in Pagosa, well now good friends, invited me to join them on an overnight backpacking trip to Goose Lake via the Ivy Creek Trail. And you know me, I can’t turn down a hike with friends.
But due to circumstances…work keeps getting in the way of fun…I had to start at a much later time on a Saturday. On top of that, I realized when I got near Treasure Falls that I forgot my trekking poles. So I had to turn around and go back to town to grab them since my tent requires a trekking pole to set it up.
So, finally at 2pm, I set off to catch up with my friends at Goose Lake.
Now the trailhead is located south of Creede. And it takes 2 hours to drive all the way around the Weminuche. Which is crazy to think about because once you’re up at the lake, Rainbow Hot Springs is only about 6 and half miles away. That gives you some perspective of just how big the wilderness area here is.
The Ivy Creek Trail is about 12 miles long, point to point. But the lake is only about 8.2 miles from the trailhead. You start off at a little over 9,000 feet in elevation. The first couple of miles are rather easy with a gradual climb that you hardly notice. You follow along Ivy Creek and it opens up into a beautiful valley and at about 2 and half miles in, you enter back into the forest. From here, you proceed further from the creek. But you eventually reconnect with it at about 4 miles in. It’s here where you get some big glimpses of the mountains you’re about to climb. This is also a good spot to fill up your water bottles as the next reliable water source is the lake itself.
And this is where the fun begins. From about mile 5 to mile 6.5, you climb almost 11 hundred feet. But the views you get near the top of the switchbacks make the climb worth the effort.
After the switchbacks, the trail flattens out. You’re now hiking in the high country. The temps are lower. And the views stretch for miles. But you do enter the forest again for another mile or so. Continuing to climb another 300 feet until you reach Goose Lake at an elevation of a little over 11 thousand 800 feet.
It was here where I finally met up with my friends, who had already established a camp spot near the lake.
Now we brought our fishing gear. But unfortunately Goose Lake is rather shallow. Which means it likely freezes solid during the winter. So we didn’t see any signs of trout.
So I set up camp, had a nice lasagna dinner and hit the sleeping back after hiking over 8 miles and almost 3,000 feet of climbing.
The next morning we woke up and continued 1.5 miles and another 400 feet of elevation to Little Goose Lake, which sits at 12,187 feet. We swam in this shallow lake and enjoyed the sunshine. From here, it’s another 2 and a half miles to the continental divide at an elevation of 12 thousand 700 feet. Along the way, you nearly summit South River Peak at 13 thousand 104 feet.
After taking our time at Little Goose Lake, we headed back to Goose Lake. We packed up camp and started the four hour trek back to the trailhead.
Overall, I definitely recommend making this hike an overnighter. Otherwise, you’re hiking almost 17 miles in one day if your goal is to make it to the lake and back. In total, I hiked about 22 miles which included having to walk back and forth to grab the camera after getting the shots I needed. And if I were to do this again, I’d probably spend a couple more nights exploring the amazing amount of terrain in this area.
Alright, that’s it for this hike. Justin and Madison, thank you so much for inviting me to come along. And to all of you who subscribe and watch our content, I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your support. Thank you!