Eccles Pass, Meadow Creek Trailhead, Summit County - Eagle County - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Eccles Pass - 10.25 miles
Meadow Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||10.25 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||9,157' - 11,917' (11,917' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,760' net elevation gain (+2,921' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Eccles Pass - 10.25 Miles Round-Trip
Eccles Pass is located in the Eagles Nest Wilderness north of Frisco, CO. Eccles Pass straddles a divisive ridge between the Meadow Creek drainage (south), and South Willow Creek basin (north).
This high vantage provides commanding views across each, and distant peaks of the Gore and Ten Mile ranges. After a steady climb through dense forest, the landscape opens across stunning alpine meadows leading up to Eccles Pass:
The Meadow Creek Trail winds through an aspen-pine forest to the Lily Pad Lake Trail split and bends northeast (.57 miles : 9,560'). It widens on a variously soft and rocky path through columns of lodgepole to Meadow Creek (1.35 miles : 10,036'), resuming a methodical climb once across.
At 2.5 miles (10,764') the trail narrows in a transitional forest where lodgepole give way to spruce and fir in the high subalpine. The forest briefly opens with a glimpse of the upper valley (2.65 miles : 10,835'), and presses steeply to a crest over the first of three large meadows (2.95 miles : 10,988').
The trail drops and undulates ruggedly up the wooded south edge of the first and smallest meadow, crossing Meadow Creek once on a makeshift bridge. Large side pools in the vicinity are particularly good for angling.
The thinning forest breaks on the edge of a second, much larger meadow with a revealing look at the entire upper valley (3.6 miles : 11,128'). Chief Mountain (11,377') stands prominently to the south, and Eccles Pass can now be seen to the northwest.
This terrain is ideal for camping, though fire regulations near treeline now apply (see guidelines below). The trail levels into the third and largest meadow (3.95 miles : 11,235'), which leads back over Meadow Creek (4.15 miles : 11,305').
The path is intermittently faint but intuitively followed to the Meadow Creek - Gore Range Trail junction (4.45 miles : 11,422'), with Eccles Pass clearly visible in the northwest corner of the valley.
The Gore Range Trail bears right and winds steeply up to Eccles Pass (5.12 miles : 11,918') with exceptional views down Meadow Creek valley, and north across Red Peak (13,189'), Buffalo Mountain (12,777') and South Willow Creek basin.
Those with time should consider this relatively short excursion (about 3 miles roundtrip), which runs across gorgeous alpine benches and by several small lakes to the pass. An informal trail extends east from Eccles Pass along a thin spine to Buffalo Mountain.
- N39 35.344 W106 06.356 — 0.0 miles : Meadow Creek Trailhead
- N39 35.441 W106 06.808 — .57 miles : Lily Pad Lake Trail junction
- N39 35.598 W106 07.155 — 1.0 miles : Steady climb on soft trail through lodgepole
- N39 35.733 W106 07.442 — 1.35 miles : Cross Meadow Creek
- N39 35.782 W106 07.564 — 1.5 miles : Resume steady, moderately steep climb
- N39 35.729 W106 08.075 — 2.0 miles : Steady climb through dense lodgepole
- N39 35.564 W106 08.518 — 2.5 miles : Trail narrows in transitional landscape
- N39 35.754 W106 08.880 — 2.95 miles : Trail crest above first of three meadows
- N39 35.696 W106 09.513 — 3.6 miles : Forest breaks on edge of second meadow
- N39 35.800 W106 09.811 — 3.9 miles : Reach edge of third and largest meadow
- N39 36.067 W106 10.153 — 4.45 miles : Gore Range Trail junction - bear right
- N39 36.278 W106 10.364 — 4.75 miles : Final approach to Eccles Pass
- N39 36.433 W106 10.321 — 5.12 miles : Eccles Pass
- N39 37.389 W106 10.592 — 6.2 miles : Red Buffalo Pass
- Fairly wide and obstacle free trail conditions are well-suited for running, backpacking, horses and winter travel.
- Snow may linger well into summer and obscure portions of the upper trail. Be patient with route finding and help minimize erosion by staying on the designated path.
- The Meadow Creek and Gore Range Trail provide a longer but arguably less challenging route to Red Buffalo Pass (compared to starting from the Buffalo Mountain Trailhead). Those with an early start can reach both Eccles Pass and Red Buffalo Pass in a day from the Meadow Creek Trailhead (approx 12.5 miles roundtrip).
- Arrive early to secure parking, avoid crowds and afternoon thunderstorms. Be mindful of changing weather patterns and aim for treeline well before storms develop.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Dispersed backcountry camping is permitted in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. No permit is necessary. Camping is prohibited within 100' of any lake or stream. Group size is limited to 15 individuals.
- Campfires are permitted for dispersed camping in the backcountry, with potential seasonal restrictions. Campfires are not permitted above or within .25 miles (440 yards) of treeline, or within 100' of any lake or stream in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.
- Contact the Dillon Ranger District (970.468.5400) for the latest on weather, trail conditions and trail-specific usage guidelines when planning your trip. The office is open M - F from 8am - 4pm.
- For those not wishing to camp in the backcountry, there are several developed campgrounds within the White River National Forest. Contact the Dillon Ranger District for information on these sites.
- Fishing is permitted in the Eagles Nest Wilderness with a valid Colorado fishing license. Specific regulations may vary by location.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs are permitted on the Meadow Creek Trail and within the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6'.
- Horses are permitted on the Meadow Creek Trail.
- Bikes are not permitted on the Meadow Creek Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
Eccles Pass is located within the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest. The Meadow Creek Trailhead is located north of Frisco, Colorado off of exit #203 from I-70.
From I-70, take Exit 203 for Frisco - Breckenridge and follow the traffic circle on the north side of I-70. Go around the traffic circle to the gravel road with the US Forest Service sign and bear right (this road splits directly off the roundabout). Follow the gravel road .6 miles to the Meadow Creek Trailhead and parking area.
Dillon Ranger District
680 Blue River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
M - F from 8am - 4pm
White River National Forest
900 Grand Ave.
P.O. Box 948
Glenwood Springs CO 81602