This is a great loop route that combines two passes, several lakes, and wonderful vistas of the Sawatch and Holy Cross Wilderness. It is suggested that you do the route in a counterclockwise direction starting from Fancy Pass Trail #2006. The trail starts at an elevation of 10,000 feet and quickly begins to gain elevation via Fancy Creek drainage up several switchbacks through the dense spruce and pine forest.
The Zen Bridge crossing occurs at 0.9 miles, and the trail continues to moderately climb above the creek toward Fancy Lake. This lake would be a nice area for a quick swim on a hot summer day. Camping is not allowed within 100 feet of the lake, but there are several spur trails that provide ample camping spots. Off to the north is the Holy Cross City Trail split that leads to an historic mining town, which is worth a visit.
From Fancy Lake the trail becomes very steep and strenuous toward the craggy rocks of Fancy Pass. Be sure the weather is clear enough to summit to the pass, as this saddle can get very windy. The Holy Cross Wilderness lays to the west, and Treasure Vault Lake sits below in the alpine valley. From here the trail wanders down the tundra-like earth to the south side of the lake. The trail quickly ascends again up Missouri Pass, which sits at 11,986 feet. This spot provides another exceptional panoramic view of a new series of lakes in the Missouri Lake Basin. Savage Peak acts as the anchor of this basin, towering 13,139 feet above.
Descending from the pass, the trail wanders down several mild switchbacks toward the Upper Missouri Lake and other smaller lakes in the chain. This would be another great spot for swimming or fishing, as the water is crystal clear. Staying on the west side of the lakes, the trail zigzags back down through the various streams and lakes and eventually through the forest via Missouri Pass Trail #2033. It’s another 4.4 miles down the Missouri Creek drainage to the trailhead where Fancy Pass Trail intersects.
This loop hike can be done as a long day hike, but it is better enjoyed as an overnight backpacking trip.
Conservation Colorado has worked with communities around the state for over 50 years in pursuit of its mission - to protect Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. It fights to protect the air, land, water, and people of Colorado. Their collaborative approach and focus on electing pro-conservation officials has yielded successes in addressing climate change, supporting clean energy development, conserving water resources, and protecting our public wildlands and rivers.