This hike is great for a longer, steadier incline and for an early season backpack trip. Hikers will enjoy river views, waterfalls, and old-growth forest the whole way up before arriving at a glistening alpine lake surround by high peaks. There are about 15 campsites that are fairly open and close to the lake.
About half a mile after you start at the trailhead, the trial splits into Upper and Lower Elliot Creek Trail. The upper trail used to be a road, so it’s easier to hike and has fewer streams and a steady incline. This route has views of waterfalls and a few jagged peaks from Sheep Mountain. The lower trail is slightly more difficult with a rockier and wetter pathway. The lower trail follows Elliot Creek, and you can occasionally catch glimpses of it. Consider taking the Upper Trail on the way up and the Lower Trail on the way down.
The trails will come back together in about 2.5 miles, and from there the incline slightly increases and the switchbacks start. There are occasional views of Elliot Creek and a large waterfall. Once at the top, the campsites are on the left and clearly marked along with a toilet that is completely in the open. Once past the campsite, the trail continues down to the lake where most people stop. There are even better views farther along the lake, however. The trial narrows and is sometimes overgrown with fallen trees, but it is well worth the extra few minutes. On a still day the lake can show an excellent reflection of part of Monte Cristo Peak, which was named after the old mining town that used to be around that area.