Fancy Lake Hike

Most of the time when I read about a hike, I have to do it. I add it to a list in my phone, and know that one day (even if it’s a year from now), I’ll do it. To make it on my list, there isn’t a lot of criteria I have – mostly I just want it to be pretty, which I mean, aren’t 99% of hikes pretty anyways? I don’t care how long it is, how short it is, or where it is – if it looks pretty, it probably made the cut.

About six months ago I added a hike called Fancy Lake to my list. The only thing I knew about it was a photo I saw on Instagram – that of course made it look absolutely beautiful. After I saw that I knew one day I would need to see it for myself. So last week, myself and a friend (and her adorable puppy) headed West at 6am to see the beauty of Fancy Lake for ourselves.

Trail Stats

  1. Starting Elevation: 10,017 feet
  2. Ending Elevation: 11,551 feet
  3. Net Elevation Gain (because of ups and downs): 1,534 feet
  4. Round Trip Length: 6.4 miles
  5. Trailhead: Fancy Lake Trailhead, GPS Coordinates: N39 23.445 W106 28.237
  6. Drive time from Denver: 2.5 hours with no traffic
  7. Fee: None
  8. Dogs allowed?: Yes
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Photo Credit: Jessica Christie

The trail begins with gradual switchbacks up a forested slope, and doesn’t waste any time gaining elevation, and by the time you get to the bridge (pictured above), you will have hiked only 0.85 miles and gained about 440 feet in elevation. Here the water was SO clean and clear I filled up my water bottle right there. However I did have the perk of having a LifeStraw water bottle which I recommend (link: here). Having this water bottle has honestly made it much easier to do longer hikes (where there’s water), because I can just fill it up and there’s a water filter that doubles as my straw; I no longer have to worry about the water weight in my pack.

After we crossed the bridge the trail continues to rise steadily for the next 2.2 miles, mostly in a thick wooded forest. As the climb continues we saw occasional breaks on the left side after about a mile or so – they are definitely worth exploring – you’ll see a huge rocky canyon with a creek below. We couldn’t see a safe way down to the bottom however, so we observed from afar.

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Once we reached the 3.0 mile mark we knew we had to be close, but it didn’t seem like any path we took could get us to a lake in the 0.2 miles we had left. I would take a break before you start the last stretch of the trail as it will gain about 400 feet up some steep rocky switchbacks.

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View from climbing the rocky switchbacks

As soon as we got to the top we had to sit…but I would recommend that you don’t rest!  Just keep walking, because Fancy Lake is maybe 100 feet away after you get to the top of the rocky switchbacks, and it is worth the exhausted walk there!

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Jessica Christie featuring Fancy Lake

We went on a Friday, and were lucky enough to be the only ones at the lake for the whole time we were there, so I can’t speak to how busy it gets on the weekends – but it’s worth it. After exploring around and hearing marmots squeals and echoes for a while, having a snack, and contemplating how we could build a house and just stay here forever; we decided to head back.

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Photo Credit: Jessica Christie

It seems silly, that I saved a hike because I saw a picture on social media. But with so many people posting all these beautiful places, I feel like it’s only natural to want to go to them. I feel so lucky that I am living a state that allows me to adventure to beautiful places like this (regardless of how they were found) and I can’t wait to cross the next hike off my list.

What to Bring Hiking: for the girl who packs everything

I have no shame in saying I am a girly girl. I like to do my hair, my nails, and my make-up, even if I’m going hiking. I mean, pictures, right?

So what does the girly girl who always needs everything, really need to bring hiking? This was where I really struggled because I wanted to look cute, and hike. Additionally, in Colorado you need to be prepared for any weather. In the spring you could see rain, snow, and sunshine all in one hike.

I’ve put together some basics that I keep in my daypack bag pictured below:

Let me also just add a side note – a daypack CAN be functional and stylish, like this one from Woolrich that was done in collaboration with Topo designs. It’s easily my favorite bag so far for normal day hikes.

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Anyways…back to the list:

  1. 2 water bottles that hold at least 24 oz of water (or more for a longer hike)
  2. Your camera/phone to take pictures, because you’ll want to remember it all.
  3. 1 light jacket with a hood
  4. 1 hat (winter or baseball cap depending on the season)
  5. 1 set of spikes if you are hiking in spring snowmelt season or winter.  I bought these: REI STABILicers and honestly, they make a world of difference! (My boyfriend bought these: REI Kahtoola MICROspikes which are also really good, just little bit more expensive)
  6. SNACKS! Don’t underestimate the length of the hike you are planning. Even with just a 4 mile hike I will usually make sure a few granola bars or trail mix are in my bag.
  7. 1 extra pair of socks. This might seem silly, but if your feet are hurting, or you get a blister and it pops, having an extra pair of socks will be your lifesaver.
  8. 1 first aid kit. You can buy these at a store, or you can make your own with band-aids, gauze, disinfectant, etc that you have at home. You will thank me when you need it (or when you get to make someone’s day by having a band-aid because someone else forgot to bring one and needed it).
  9. A map of your hike if you are able to get one, so you aren’t questioning which way to turn when some of the trails aren’t clearly marked.
  10. Finally…wear a comfortable pair of shoes. I can’t tell you enough about how happy you will be after investing in a great pair of hiking shoes. I recently bought the Danner Mountain Light Cascade and it has been a life changer (but actually). I can wear these for days at a time and they are so comfortable.

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At the end of the day though, I’ve learned that I really don’t need to bring everything. It’s fine if it’s a little too warm or cold, it’ll be fine if your hair gets messed up or if it rained on you – all that matters is that you got out and saw a little bit more of the world. I mean it is pretty big, after all.