Deluge Lake, Gore Creek Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Deluge Lake - 9.1 miles

Gore Creek Trailhead

Deluge Lake (11,746')

Deluge Lake (11,746')

Round-Trip Length: 9.1 miles
Start-End Elevation: 8,721' - 11,746' (11,765' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +3,025' net elevation gain (+3,545' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Deluge Lake - 9.1 Miles Round-Trip

Deluge Lake is located 4.55 miles from Gore Creek Trailhead in the Eagles Nest Wilderness north of Vail. It sits above treeline at the head of a broad valley deep in the Gore Range. The Deluge Lake Trail is highlighted by abundant aspen and long stretches of alpine meadow. Visitors will enjoy varied terrain, airy landscapes and well-earned solitude on the challenging hike to Deluge Lake:

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail rises quickly to the Deluge Lake - Gore Creek Trail split and banks north (.1 mile). It moderates across a grassy slope to a sharp NE turn that begins a long, strenuous climb (.35 miles : 8,778').

The trail is narrowly cut, overgrown in many places and variously rocky and slick with loose sand. Tread carefully along short sections with steep drop-offs.

It reaches a break in the aspen and levels across 100 yards of talus (1.35 miles : 9,925'). Steep climbing leads into the subalpine (1.6 miles : 10,265') where grades moderate under a tall spruce-fir canopy (2.0 miles : 10,690'). Look for grouse, elk and bear in this dark and verdant stretch.

The trail crests on a high ridge near treeline, but promptly drops back into the forest (2.75 miles : 11,076'). It passes through a large clearing (3.05 miles : 11,007') and undulates down to Deluge Creek with expanding views of the upper valley (3.4 miles : 10,945').

The trail runs up the west bank of Deluge Creek for a short time as another becomes visible along the east bank (3.65 miles : 11,145'). Remain vigilant, as the trail will cross Deluge Creek to the east side at an unmarked point.

Find a narrow point to cross and resume steep climbing through the last of treeline. Travel gradually eases across a string of alpine meadows (4.05 miles : 11,325') and makes one final push to a crest that dips on a faint path to Deluge Lake (4.55 miles : 11,746').

The lake vicinity and slopes above are relatively obstacle free and easy to explore. Look for mountain goat along serrated ridgelines framing the valley.

Grand Traverse Peak (13,041') caps the Deluge basin's northwest corner, while triangular Snow Peak (13,024') distinguishes the east valley wall. Views down valley include summits from the Ten Mile and Sawatch ranges.

Skilled hikers can scale Snow Peak's north saddle and drop to Snow Lake, which has no maintained trail leading to it. A challenging x-country loop can be formed by following Snow Lake's outlet to the Gore Lake Trail, which joins the Gore Creek Trail back to the Gore Creek Trailhead in Vail.

Facebook Comments

Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 37.662 W106 16.491 — 0.0 miles : Gore Creek Trailhead
  • N39 37.745 W106 16.631 — .35 miles : Turn north, begin steep climb
  • N39 37.784 W106 16.479 — .5 miles : Steep climb through aspen forest
  • N39 37.944 W106 16.104 — 1.0 miles : Steep climb continues
  • N39 38.121 W106 15.792 — 1.35 miles : Begin travel across talus field
  • N39 38.100 W106 15.625 — 1.5 miles : Resume steep travel above talus field
  • N39 38.325 W106 15.252 — 2.0 miles : Transition from aspen to spruce-fir forest
  • N39 38.432 W106 14.884 — 2.45 miles : Trail moderates in thick spruce-fir forest
  • N39 38.445 W106 14.792 — 2.75 miles : Trail crests; start descent to Deluge Creek
  • N39 38.559 W106 14.506 — 3.05 miles : Emerge from forest in small meadow
  • N39 38.826 W106 13.984 — 3.65 miles : Cross creek at point of hikers' discretion
  • N39 39.110 W106 14.003 — 4.05 miles : Trail levels through broad alpine bench
  • N39 39.358 W106 13.652 — 4.55 miles : Deluge Lake

Worth Noting

  • The Deluge Lake Trail's first two miles are steep, narrow and overgrown in many areas. Travel is best when dry and snow-free. Avoid this trail after heavy rains and during the early summer thaw.
  • Arrive early to secure parking and avoid afternoon storms. Be mindful of changing weather and get below treeline before storms develop.
  • While horses are permitted, the Deluge Lake Trail is not suitable for most equestrians. Only experienced riders with strong companions should attempt this trail.
  • Thick aspen forests along the first two miles of the Deluge Lake Trail produce some of the most brilliant autumn colors in the Vail area.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Gore Creek Campground - Facilities and Campground Information:

  • The Gore Creek Campground is located 2.5 miles east of Exit 180 from I-70 on Bighorn Road. It's located just past the Gore Creek Trailhead and holds 25 campsites with picnic tables and fire grates. A vault toilet is available. Campsite parking spurs are 30-40' long, but no electric hook-ups, running water or dump stations are available. Sites are first come, first served. There is a $16 fee, and 10 day occupancy limit.

Backcountry Camping:

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
  • One member of each party is required to register at the Gore Creek Trailhead and carry a copy of the registration with them during their visit. There is no registration fee. Permits are required to help measure visitation and manage impact.
  • 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 Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.
  • Contact the Holy Cross Ranger District (970.827.5715) for the latest on weather, trail conditions and trail-specific usage guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.
  • For those not wishing to camp in the backcountry, there are several developed campgrounds within the White River National Forest. Contact the Holy Cross Ranger District for information on these sites.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted with a valid Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are permitted on the Deluge Lake Trail and within the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6'.

  • Horses are permitted on the Deluge Lake Trail.

  • Bikes are not permitted on the Deluge Lake Trail.

Directions to Trailhead

Deluge Lake is located in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and Holy Cross Ranger District of the White River National Forest. The Gore Creek Trailhead is located 2.3 miles east of Exit #180 off I-70 on Bighorn Road.

From westbound I-70, exit #180 and turn left at the bottom of the off ramp. Continue east down Bighorn Road 2.3 miles to the parking area on your left, before you reach the Gore Creek Campground. Parking is limited. Park at the trailhead, not at the campground.

Contact Information

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

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Should have read this description first. Instead, I believed another report showing 3.6 mi to Deluge Lake. It is a lot farther. A spectacular hike, relatively strenuous but not difficult, easy route finding, plentiful wildflowers. The only downside is the highway noise for the first and last 2 mi. Echo another commenter that the lower third of the trail would make a great Fall foliage hike."
geoskimom  -  Colorado  -  Date Posted: July 28, 2018
"This hike took me 9 1/2 hours. I estimate it is about 15 miles long. I am 67 years old. I would consider this hike as "Most Difficult". Begin by ascending to Gore Lake via the Gore Creek Trail out of East Vail. There is no real trail between Gore Lake and Snow Pass. The descent from Deluge Lake is down the Deluge Lake Trail. There are sections descending Snow Pass where there is no trail. Head north from immediately below the lake. Sight on the big notch in the rugged skyline in the far distance. This is just for direction. You will not be climbing into the notch. Make a steadily ascending switchback traverse (first left then right) climbing through grass, flowers and some willows. Your goal is an obvious stand of pine about 1/4 mile away. A faint climbers trail appears and disappears. Enter the pines towards their upper end. On the other side of the pines descend slightly (right) looking for a brushy, steep drainage gully on your left. There is a trail of sorts on the left side of the gully. Ascend about 2/3 the way up and cross the gully to the right climbing into the low end of another stand of pine. Once past the pines travel easy ground up to your left. (The notch noted earlier that was in the far distance is now in your face.) Climb to the saddle below the notch which you now realize is on the other side of the Snow Lake drainage. Look left to see Snow Pass about 1/2 mile away. You are at 11,900 here. The pass is 12,890. Traverse down into the drainage and cross the Snow Lake outlet stream earlier rather than later. Look for an obvious trail through the boulder fields ahead. Now begin a long, left climbing traverse above Snow Lake. The trail continues until about 1/2 way up the pass. The lower end of the Pass is on the left so switchback (or ascend directly) the steep slope favoring the left side. Once on top enjoy the spectacular view of Deluge Lake far below, and the trail out. Behind you are beautiful valley views (your pathway to this point). Buffalo Pass is in the distance East and Holy Cross appears to the Southwest. Across from you is the skyline of the Grand Traverse, an iconic ridge most commonly viewed from eastbound travelers on I70 as they pass Vail. Descend the slippery talus on an obvious trail which ends in the boulder field below. Sight your way through the boulders favoring the right once you are mostly lower for the quickest exit onto the grassy slopes and Deluge Lake. The trail out is just north Deluge Creek. This is a steep descent which puts you back on the Gore Creek Trail just above the car park. This is a demanding but very rewarding day hike. Note: dogs have trouble in the boulder field above Deluge Lake. "
grayson drexel  -  Gore Lake to Snow Pass to Deluge Lake  -  Date Posted: August 8, 2017
"Beautiful hike, but be aware of the "strenuous" rating. Very steep ascent in a very short amount of time. Well worth it once you get past that part. It would be lovely in the fall during the color change as there is a forest of aspens that you ascend through."
Staci Watts  -  United States  -  Date Posted: August 18, 2013


Add Comment

Only used to identify you to ProTrails. Will not show on comments list.
Tell us when your experience with this trail happened.