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Eagle and Symphony Lakes Loop (Featured Fall Hike)

This hike through the beautiful South Fork Valley and over the mountains 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. 

The trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes starts from the South Fork trailhead parking lot and is well established. This section can usually be hiked in October and well into winter depending on snow conditions. Go to this link for info about the Eagle & Symphony Lakes trail: Hike to Eagle-symphony-lakes

To take the loop back to  the South Fork parking lot, proceed to the west side of Symphony Lake where there are several camping spots if you decide to camp here for the night. If you decide to take the 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 can either drop about halfway down to Ship Creek to find an old horse trail.  However, the horse trail is badly overgrown in sections and very 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