Turquoise Lakes, Beaver Lake Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Turquoise Lakes - 14.4 miles
Beaver Lake Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||14.4 miles (includes both lakes)|
|Start-End Elevation:||8,355' - 11,308' (at upper lake)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,953' net elevation gain (+3,235' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Turquoise Lakes - 14.4 Miles Round-Trip
The Turquoise Lakes are located 6.65 and 7.2 miles from Beaver Lake Trailhead in the Holy Cross Wilderness. The lakes form the headwaters of Beaver Creek, a major tributary of the Eagle River. Lower Turquoise Lake fills a large, level basin surrounded by rolling meadows, and Upper Turquoise Lake is located .6 miles and 210’ up in a secluded bowl just below the valley headwall.
Lower Turquoise Lake features ideal camping and fishing terrain along its open perimeter. The upper lake is a relatively quick excursion to a more rugged but equally compelling setting.
Two trails access the Turquoise Lakes: the Beaver Lake Trail which begins in the Beaver Creek Ski Resort, and the West Grouse Creek Trail from Grouse Creek Trailhead on Highway 24.
The following description begins at Beaver Creek, preferable for long stretches of mild grades and pristine forests along the water (see Worth Noting below for important trailhead access and distance information):
The Beaver Lake Trail begins at the top of Village Road in the Beaver Creek Ski Resort. Scale a grassy knoll and merge onto a service road, which rises past several maintenance facilities and ski-runs. It passes connections for Allie’s Way and the Village-to-Village Trail up to a bridge over Beaver Creek (1.55 miles : 9,165’).
It keeps a steady pace through airy slopes to the Holy Cross Wilderness Boundary (2.4 miles : 9,660’), where it narrows on singletrack to the edge of Beaver Lake (2.6 miles : 9,746’).
The trail continues past Beaver Lake and moderates on a long, pleasant stretch highlighted by mild grades, braided streams, verdant ground cover and hanging moss. There’s little beetle-kill and minimal deadfall in this notably healthy spruce-fir forest.
Travel is quick up to a sturdy footbridge that crosses (west) over a cascading section of Beaver Creek (4.7 miles : 10,355’). It’s easy to miss, but a fading trail on the water’s edge will lead your eyes to it. Once over, the trail skirts the base of a talus slope and levels back into heavy forest.
It reaches a double-bridge crossing back to the east side of the creek at 5.45 miles (10,595’), past which it runs up the side of a long, open meadow. Take a few steps off-trail to scan for wildlife.
The trail shifts quickly and grows faint while transitioning through the subalpine. Thinning timber reveals expansive meadows on either side of Beaver Creek leading to the Grouse Mountain (West Grouse Creek) trail split (6.6 miles : 11,075’).
Here the trail temporarily disappears, but is intuitively followed through a marshy flat to the NE corner of Lower Turquoise Lake (6.65 miles : 11,095’). The basin is broad and level with little distinction between the lake and terra firma in some places. The shoreline is obstacle free (save a few bands of willow), and easy to explore.
The Upper Turquoise Lake Trail is located across the outlet stream, a few steps past the Grouse Mt Trail split. A small log spans the creek but is fairly anonymous; to pick up the trail, simply cross the creek and it will soon appear. The trail leads around the lake across damp meadows and low rises with drier conditions for camping.
It curls SW and rises gently through pockets of spruce to the edge of Upper Turquoise Lake (7.2 miles : 11,308’). The lake is hemmed by the steep valley headwall and some rugged terrain, but easy enough to maneuver about. You’ll find secluded nooks to camp, but open space around the lower lake is arguably more conducive.
- N39 35.803 W106 31.363 — 0.0 miles : Beaver Lake Trailhead
- N39 35.125 W106 31.605 — .9 miles : Village-to-Village Trail split
- N39 34.652 W106 31.899 — 1.55 miles : Cross Beaver Creek on bridge
- N39 34.338 W106 32.012 — 2.0 miles : Steady climb through vestiges of Ski Resort
- N39 34.062 W106 32.052 — 2.4 miles : Holy Cross Wilderness Boundary
- N39 33.918 W106 32.087 — 2.6 miles : Beaver Lake
- N39 33.615 W106 32.074 — 3.0 miles : Grades moderate in thick forest
- N39 33.162 W106 31.991 — 3.5 miles : Pass through 10,000'
- N39 32.838 W106 31.924 — 4.0 miles : Fast, level travel in stream crossed forest
- N39 32.386 W106 31.780 — 4.7 miles : Cross bridge to west side
- N39 31.825 W106 31.743 — 5.45 miles : Cross double bridge back to east side
- N39 31.456 W106 31.661 — 6.0 miles : Variously rugged and faint path into upper valley
- N39 30.964 W106 31.711 — 6.6 miles : Grouse Mountain Trail split
- N39 30.929 W106 31.709 — 6.65 miles : Lower Turquoise Lake
- N39 30.590 W106 32.015 — 7.2 miles : Upper Turquoise Lake
- Distance and elevation gain discrepancies among map and forest service sources can likely be attributed to the 'Starting Point' - either the Parking Garage or actual Beaver Lake Trailhead. Numbers here are calculated from the trailhead. The walk from the garage (up the road or on the 5 Senses Trail) adds .55 miles and a 240' climb to the one-way totals.
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 Area.
- 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.
- There are numerous developed campgrounds in the White River National Forest. Contact the Holy Cross Ranger District for information on these sites.
- Fishing is permitted at Beaver Lake, the Turquoise Lakes and along Beaver Creek with a valid Colorado fishing license.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed or under strict voice control at all times.
Directions to Trailhead
The Beaver Lake Trailhead is located within the Beaver Creek Ski Area in Avon, CO. Public parking is not allowed at the trailhead - see below for options:
From I-70, take Exit 167 for Avon and head south from the roundabout onto Avon Road. Continue south under the interstate and cross US Hwy 6 to the main gate for Beaver Creek. Here the road name changes to Village Road. You will most likely be greeted by recreation staff at this gate, who can explain parking and shuttle options.
Follow Village Road 2.3 miles to the Gerald Ford Parking Garage, located just before passing under the second bridge over Village Road on the left side of the road.
From here you can either take a shuttle (consult Beaver Creek staff at the gate for details), or walk .55 miles up Village Road to the trailhead. You may also take the 5 Senses Trail from the parking garage, which parallels the road, a pleasant alternative.
You may also connect with the trail via the Allie's Way and Village-to-Village trails, which start from various points within the resort. Skip these steps by having a friend drop you off at the trailhead!
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