Mohawk Lake and Lower Mohawk Lake, Spruce Creek Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Mohawk Lake and Lower Mohawk Lake - 6.7 miles

Spruce Creek Trailhead

Scaling steep granite walls on the final push to Mohawk Lake

Scaling steep granite walls on the final push to Mohawk Lake

Round-Trip Length: 6.7 miles (includes both lakes)
Start-End Elevation: 10,390' - 12,073' (12,073' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,683' net elevation gain (+1,810' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Mohawk Lake and Lower Mohawk Lake - 6.7 Miles Round-Trip

Lower Mohawk Lake (11,861') and Mohawk Lake (12,110') are located 2.95 and 3.35 miles from the Spruce Creek Trailhead south of Breckenridge, CO. The lakes sit just at and above treeline along the south flank of Mt Helen in a spectacular glacial valley in the Ten Mile Range.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Those with time may divert to nearby Mayflower Lakes, or continue past Mohawk Lake through open tundra to a string of 5 alpine lakes and tarns in the upper valley:

The trail heads west over Spruce Creek (.1 miles) and climbs steadily through aspen, fir and spruce for 1.4 miles to the Wheeler Trail split on the edge of a large, marshy meadow (1.5 miles : 10,965'). This is a good place to break and look for wildlife, epsecially moose and elk.

The Spruce Creek Trail turns west beside the meadow up to Spruce Creek Road, (2.0 miles : 11,120’), which you’ll follow to its terminus at a water utility station. Cross the dam and follow signs (right) off the road to pick up the trail (2.1 miles : 11,151').

Travel steepens to the Mayflower Lakes split (2.35 miles : 11,285’) and crosses a creek, past which the trail braids in several places.

These social trails typically lead to views of Continental Falls, mining remains or established campsites - and in most cases link back to the main trail artery. Look for cairns to stay on track and do your best to avoid crosscutting sensitive vegetation.

The trail twists steeply by a mining cabin to a marked split for Lower Continental Falls Vista (2.55 miles : 11,385'). It follows a useful mining cable past the falls split up steep open rock to the edge of Lower Mohawk Lake (2.95 miles : 11,810’).

Lower Mohawk Lake lies at treeline below Mount Helen (13,164’), a fine stopping point if limited by time or weather. Continental Falls pour from its outlet, and there’s plenty of shoreline to explore.

The trail continues along the shore before breaking away on a steep, twisting climb through treeline to Mohawk Lake (3.35 miles : 12,073’). The trail braids again in several places on this final push, however intuitive travel leads uphill in each instance.

Mohawk Lake fills a large, steep-walled bowl with great views back down valley of Lower Mohawk Lake and Mt Helen. A tight but navigable shoreline offers anglers plenty of room to cast, though exploration is somewhat limited by pitch.

Scale the lake's north wall to pick up an intuitively followed social trail into the upper valley, which opens dramatically below Pacific Peak (13,950’), Crystal Peak (13,852') and Father Dyer Peak (13,615’).

The route skirts a small lake directly above Mohawk (3.55 miles : 12,219’) and continues across relatively flat open tundra to three more - 3.9 miles (12,334’), 4.25 miles (12,372’) and 4.55 miles (12,438’). A fifth – Pacific Tarn – requires a steep climb with no discernable route past the fourth lake.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 26.236 W106 03.035 — 0.0 miles: Spruce Creek Trailhead
  • N39 25.974 W106 03.250 — 0.1 miles: Cross Spruce Creek
  • N39 25.421 W106 04.057 — 1.5 miles: Wheeler Trail Intersection
  • N39 25.295 W106 04.457 — 2.1 miles: Fire Road crossing - Green Sheds
  • N39 25.266 W106 04.754 — 2.35 miles : Mayflower Lakes Trail split
  • N39 25.323 W106 04.832 — Mayflower Lakes - 11, 365'
  • N39 25.243 W106 04.872 — 2.5 miles : Continental Falls access trail split
  • N39 25.283 W106 05.187 — 3.1 miles: Lower Mohawk Lake - 11,810'
  • N39 25.207 W106 05.274 — 3.3 miles: Travel between lower and upper Mohawk
  • N39 25.144 W106 05.377 — 3.35 miles : Mohawk Lake - 12,073'
  • N39 25.225 W106 05.597 — Upper Lake #1
  • N39 25.311 W106 05.904 — Upper Lake #2
  • N39 25.347 W106 06.247 — Upper Lake #3
  • N39 25.487 W106 06.510 — Upper Lake #4

Worth Noting

  • Snow may linger through early summer on higher portions of the trail, and navigation can be tricky between Lower and Upper Mohawk Lake. Carry a good map and be patient with route-finding.
  • Lower portions of the Spruce Creek Trail are marked with 'tree blazes' (removed square-like pieces of tree bark) and blue diamonds, which aid winter navigation.
  • According to Denver reporter Deb Stanley, Mohawk Lakes is a favorite hike of Colorado Nature Photographer John Fielder.
  • This is a very popular trail artery; arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the White River National Forest. No permit is necessary. 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 of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream.

  • Contact the Dillon Ranger District (970.468.5400) for the latest weather, trail conditions and trail-specific 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 Dillon Ranger District for information on these sites.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted at all Mohawk Lakes, The Mayflower Lakes and along Spruce Creek with a Colorado fishing license.

Rules and Regulations

  • The Spruce Creek Trail is open to hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing and winter recreation. No motorized vehicles are allowed.

Directions to Trailhead

The Spruce Creek Trailhead is located 3.3 miles south of Breckenridge, Colorado in the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest.

From I-70, take Exit #203 for Breckenridge and travel south on Highway 9 through the town of Breckenridge. From the last traffic light on South Main Street in Breckenridge (the Boreas Pass - Broken Lance Road intersection), continue south for 2.1 miles to Spruce Creek Road (County Road #800). Turn right on Spruce Creek Road and drive 1.2 miles to the Spruce Creek Trailhead.

Contact Information

Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
970.468.5400
M - F from 8am - 4pm

White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602
970.945.2521

Comments

"What a beautiful hike! A waterfall, lakes, and stunning mountain views. The trail is quite modest until you are past Mayflower Lake. The switchbacks that take you to Lower Mohawk Lake may be considered modestly challenging for some. Upper Mohawk Lake is beautiful. It's well worth the final ascent from Lower Mohawk. But don't turn around yet. If you choose to continue on to Upper Lakes 1-4, there is an actual, single-track trail carved into the tundra that takes you to Upper Lakes 1, 2, and 3. There's no trail to Upper Lake 4, but it's an easy walk and roughly one-third of a mile to Lake 4. My GPS: just under 1.5 miles from Upper Mohawk to Upper Lake 4, approx 400 ft elevation gain."
Charles  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: July 18, 2016
"Great hike with views, waterfalls and lakes; but terrible infrastructure. Lots of signs of landscape destruction. Masses of cars with "lazy-hikers" while people are hiking, lots of car pollution. the city needs to close the road at the trailhead for a good hiking experience. Charge money for parking to reduce use. The hike is heavily overused. Or alternatively call it a Drive not a Hike. "
G.Krauss  -  Breckenridge  -  Date Posted: July 3, 2016
"Upper Mohawk lake is only the beginning =)"
Duck Fish  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: August 19, 2014
"This hike was the highlight of our family trip. While it had some strenuous sections near the top, our 9 year-old daughter had no problems getting all the way to Upper Mohawk Lake. You'll be breathing hard at points, but the views may be the reason - they're breathtaking! Our family has enjoyed our visits to Colorado, and we've taken advantage of many hiking trails here. This would be our #1 recommendation to friends and family based on our experience there today. Enjoy!"
Chris Zaugg  -  Fishers, IN  -  Date Posted: July 27, 2013
"I would like to add Continental Falls to the description of the trail. The outflow from Lower Mohawk Lake cascades down a number of refreshing waterfalls easily accessible just to the right of the main trail. Our experience would concur with the moderate to strenuous rating especially for the upper portion. We stopped at Lower Mohawk Lake and that was more than enough for a family of Kansans on their 3rd day in the mountains. "
Mike Spade  -  Holton, KS  -  Date Posted: June 22, 2013

 

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