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Eagle and Symphony Lakes Loop

Why Do This Hike:
This colorful fall hike through the South Fork Valley and into Ship Creek offers stunning views of alpine lakes (Eagle and Symphony), tarns and valleys surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains. During September and early October (until the first snowfall) you will have the added bonus of vibrant fall colors. 

How to Get Ttere:
To get started, take the well established trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes which starts from the South Fork trailhead parking lot. (This section can usually be hiked in October and well into winter depending on snow conditions.) For directions and details on the hike to Eagle & Symphony Lakes go here: Hike to Eagle-symphony-lakes

The Nitty-Gritty:
Once you have arrived at Eagle Lake (second bridge), proceed across the boulder field to the west side of Symphony Lake where there are several camping spots if you decide to camp for the night. To take the Ship Creek loop back, you will need good weather and navigation skills. Don't attempt this in the winter or in adverse weather, because you are hiking on ridges where visibility may be limited and there could be avalanche danger.

Once on the southwest side of Symphony Lake, look to the mountains directly west for a broad mostly tundra slope with a saddle at the top. After a 1600 foot climb you will reach the saddle where you can see the North Fork of Ship Creek. At this point you have two options. The first is to drop about halfway down to Ship Creek to find an old horse trail.  However, the horse trail is badly overgrown in sections and can be difficult to follow. Follow the horse/animal trail to Rendezvous Pass where you will climb over into the South Fork. Once over the pass, the trail will take you back to the parking lot.

The other option is to turn northwest to follow the ridge(s) and eventually drop down into the South Fork Valley. Depending on where you drop from the ridge, you should eventually intersect with the trail to the South Fork trailhead parking lot where you started. There are a number of ways to go. This is a hike for clear weather as you will need to have good visibility to see the route on the ridges. You will need to be adept at route finding and navigation as there are no established trails on the ridge. Happy Trails!

                                         Walking the ridges overlooking upper Ship Creek