Tuhare Lakes, Half Moon - Fall Creek Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Tuhare Lakes - 11.2 miles
Half Moon - Fall Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||11.2 miles (includes both lakes)|
|Start-End Elevation:||10,325' - 12,365' (max elevation at upper lake)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,040' net elevation gain (+2,945' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Tuhare Lakes - 11.2 Miles Round-Trip
The Tuhare Lakes are located 5.6 miles from Tigiwon Road in the Holy Cross Wilderness. The upper lake occupies a massive cirque carved from the Holy Cross Ridge, and the lower lake is 275' below in a high alpine terrace. Upper Tuhare Lake (12,365') is notably large for a lake at this elevation.
The Fall Creek Trail runs high along the west valley wall before opening in the upper valley at Lake Constantine, past which the Tuhare Lakes Trail splits off on a strenuous climb to the lakes.
The trail begins on a moderate grade in a thick subalpine forest. It dips at 1.3 miles (10,840’), the first of several subtle drops that add up on the return. Timber breaks here on a steep slope with good views across Fall Creek and distant peaks in the Gore and Ten Mile ranges.
Walk through a stream that bisects the trail at 1.52 miles and resume steady travel past interesting rock features to the Notch Mountain Trail split (2.34 miles : 11,225’).
The Fall Creek Trail continues SW on mild-moderate undulations to the base of a talus slide and meadow (3.5 miles : 11,240’). It steepens away into the upper valley where the landscape opens to rolling alpine meadows and Lake Constantine (3.95 miles : 11,371’).
Lake Constantine is a compelling destination in itself, with exceptional fishing and ideal camping terrain. The trail fades and splits through damp meadows around the lake, but clarifies on higher ground on the west side.
The trail undulates past Constantine in a thinning forest to the Tuhare Lakes Trail split (4.55 miles : 11,505’). The Tuhare Lakes Trail splits west and clears treeline on a steep, twisting climb beside the lower lake’s outlet falls. Some hand-over-hand scrambling is required on this segment.
It levels briefly with a great look at the waterfall (4.95 miles), then presses steeply right beside it to Lower Tuhare Lake (5.2 miles : 12,090’). Talus or snow may obscure cairns but the route is fairly obvious. The lake fills a scenic alpine terrace with thick grasses, large boulders and a diverse collection of flowers.
The intermittently defined trail continues along the north shore and scales rugged terrain beside the waterfall's upper tier. The falls are spectacular, but avoid adjacent rock slabs that can be perilously slick.
The landscape will naturally funnel you (left) across the top of the waterfall to Upper Tuhare Lake (5.6 miles : 12,365’). Note the route you took, as it may be difficult to retrace. Upper Tuhare Lake is massive, and ringed by jagged 13,000’+ peaks of the Holy Cross Ridge. Scan slopes above for mountain goat and bighorn sheep, which are common in this area.
- N39 30.018 W106 25.973 — 0.0 miles : Fall Creek Trailhead
- N39 29.619 W106 26.012 — .5 miles : Fast travel in a thick forest
- N39 29.256 W106 26.164 — 1.0 miles : Rocky-rooted path on moderate grade
- N39 28.863 W106 26.241 — 1.5 miles : Dip and cross stream that bisects trail
- N39 28.481 W106 26.467 — 2.0 miles : Occasional breaks in timber with views
- N39 28.260 W106 26.563 — 2.34 miles : Notch Mountain Trail split
- N39 27.888 W106 26.734 — 2.85 miles : Mild-moderate undulations into upper valley
- N39 27.481 W106 27.182 — 3.5 miles : Trail opens in first subalpine meadow
- N39 27.162 W106 27.352 — 3.95 miles : Lake Constantine (11,371')
- N39 26.802 W106 27.698 — 4.55 miles : Fall Creek - Tuhare Lakes Trail split (11,505')
- N39 26.845 W106 28.007 — 4.95 miles : Steep climb to level area with waterfall view
- N39 26.977 W106 28.165 — 5.2 miles : Lower Tuhare Lake (12,090')
- N39 26.986 W106 28.488 — 5.6 miles : Upper Tuhare Lake (12,365')
- The Fall Creek Trail continues past the Tuhare Lakes Trail to Fall Creek Pass, and follows a ridge with access to the Seven Sisters Lakes down to the Hunky Dory Trailhead. Lake Constantine is an ideal location to base camp from and explore all destinations.
- The Tuhare Lakes access trail is steep, and can be difficult to follow with lingering snow. Traction devices may be necessary early in the season.
- Mosquitoes can be a nuisance on this trail corridor. Long sleeves and repellant are recommended.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. Self-registration permits are available at the trailhead and/or Wilderness Boundary. There is no fee or limit to the number of permits issued. Backpackers must carry a completed registration form with them for the duration of the trip.
- Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
- Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream in the Holy Cross Wilderness. Campfires are also prohibited all along the Mount of the Holy Cross Trail, and within the Bowl of Tears basin.
- Contact the Holy Cross Ranger District (970.827.5715) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.
- Half Moon Camp is a primitive campground located at the trailhead. Spaces are limited and fill up quickly, especially on weekends. There are also many undeveloped pull-offs along Tigiwon Road where camping is permitted. These are not marked but the turnoffs for each are fairly clear. Be mindful of adjacent private property.
- Fishing is permitted at Lake Constantine and the Tuhare Lakes with a valid Colorado fishing license. Fishing is particularly good at Lake Constantine.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed or under strict voice control at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Half Moon - Fall Creek Trailhead is located 8.2 miles west of Highway 24 on Tigiwon Road. Tigiwon Road is depicted on many maps as an improved dirt road, however it's very rough. High clearance vehicles are recommended. Call ahead for road conditions and access.
From I-70, take Exit 171 (just west of West Vail) and follow Highway 24 south 4.9 miles to Tigiwon Road (right turn). Anticipate this turn, as it comes quickly on a bend in the road.
Follow Tigiwon Road 8.2 miles to the trailhead. Spaces are limited, however roadside parking is permitted.
Holy Cross Ranger District
24747 US Highway 24
Minturn, CO 81645
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602