Skirting outside the northern border of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the Elizabeth Lake snowshoe and ski route winds up a mining road through a chattering creek valley, ending near a charming little 7-acre lake. On a clear afternoon, the snow-dusted highpoints that form the broad valley walls become visible throughout the second portion of the trip, adding a splendid backdrop to the lush hemlock, cedar and fir forests.
Depending on the time of year and current snow level, the route tends to vary by a mile or two in length. The idea is to drive as far as possible up Money Creek Road and park on the ample shoulder space at the snow line (usually around the first mile marker). Mossy groves and the constant flow of Money Creek occupy your attention for the first 3 miles, which go by fairly quickly. The creek bed widens and affords nice views of Goat Basin and Lennox Mountain to the south. The next attractions can be found another mile up the route where two unnamed waterfalls flow into Money Creek. Carefully descend the creek bank a few yards for the most photogenic views.
Shortly after the falls, the road switches back once to gain some elevation and as it leaves the creek. From this point, the atmosphere becomes more spacious, with Crosby Mountain, Red Mountain and McLain Peaks rising up around you. The expansive Money Creek headwaters hint that you are only a short distance from Lake Elizabeth, where the road passes above the south shore. For a bit more adventure and some alternative vantage points, you can circumnavigate the lake via the 0.7 mile summer trail.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.