One Way Length
7.1 miles (trailhead to Island and Carey lakes)
Hikers – Strenuous; Stock Riders – Challenging
National Forest > Wilderness
#112 Poudre River, Cameron Pass
Clark Peak, Boston Peak, Rawah, Chambers Lake
Drive up the Poudre Canyon for 51.6 miles from Ted’s Place, turn right on the Laramie River Road (CR-103) at mm 71.5, and proceed 7.8 miles to the West Branch parking area, a short distance north of the Tunnel Campground. The trail begins about 100 yards south of the parking area and heads west along a ditch road. The trail then crosses the ditch to your left and heads uphill to the Wilderness boundary. Stay to your right when the trail divides at this point. Facilities, water and trailer parking are available at the trailhead.
Jct. Camp Lake Trail
Jct. Rawah Trail
Jct. Blue Lake Trail
Carey & Island lakes
This hike is best done with an overnight trip. From the West Branch parking lot, follow the road to the south for about 100 yards. Stay right at the Laramie Tunnel diversion and follow the Skyline ditch. After about 0.25 mile, you will come to a log bridge spanning the ditch to your left. Cross and stay to the right - you will soon enter the Wilderness Area. For the first 3.5 miles, the trail climbs up and along the West Branch of the Laramie River, offering some great views of the river cascading below. Some sections of the first 2.5 miles of this trail become a virtual stream during snowmelt early in the summer, so plan to get wet if hiking during this time. There is a junction with the Camp Lake Trail about 2.7 miles from the West Branch trailhead. About 0.7 mile after passing the junction with the Camp Lake Trail, you will come to a log stringer bridge crossing over the North Fork of the Laramie River. There are good campsites about 0.1 mile before the bridge, between the trail and the river. The area across the bridge was a very popular camping destination in the past, but the Forest Service is trying to rehabilitate this area and has posted it off limits for overnight camping, although some visitors still camp in this area. About 0.15 mile above this bridge you will come to a junction with the southern end of the Rawah Trail. About 2.25 miles above the junction with the Rawah Trail you will reach a small meadow and a junction with the Blue Lake Trail coming in from the east. Good campsites can also be found in this area, across the stream to the east. This is a popular camping destination. After setting up your camp, continue your hike up to Carey and Island lakes; two beautiful alpine lakes located in an area above timberline but with islands of krummholz. Note that no campfires are allowed above 10,800 ft. Bighorn sheep and elk can often be seen in this area.
If you have the time and want to visit Timber Lake (which is about 0.7 miles southeast of Island Lake at 10,850 ft elevation), you could travel cross-country from Island Lake, contouring to the south to an unnamed lake at 11,280 ft elevation and then descending to the east to the lake. From Timberline Lake, return to the upper West Branch Trail by traveling cross-country to the north.