Fisher Lake Overlook


Summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 5.9 miles round trip
Starting
Elevation
6100 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+1150, -1150 round trip
Navigation Road, marked trail and map
Time Most of a day
Season January through early April
Snowmobiles Low
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Soda Springs
Start Intersection of Troy Road and Old Highway 40. Exit Interstate 80 at Kingvale, turn west (left) onto Old Highway 40 (located on north side of the interstate), drive 0.5 mile to Donner Trail School, continue 0.1 mile to Troy Road, turn left onto Troy Road, and park. The tour begins on the south side of the interstate which is accessible by an underpass.


Description

Fisher Lake and its overlook lie in the heart of the high plateau to the south of Interstate 80 near Kingvale. The marked High Loch Leven Lake Trail, established in 1991 by volunteers of the Nordic Voice, predecessor of Snowlands Network, makes access to this superb touring area reasonable for intermediate skiers.

Image of Fisher Lake
Fisher Lake from the Overlook

You will cover a mixture of terrain, both forested and open, on roads and cross-country, on the tour to Fisher Lake Overlook. The openness of the plateau, along with its lack of landmarks, makes this area a poor choice during inclement weather. Without good visibility, route-finding in the open areas requires expert dead-reckoning with a map and compass. Also, you have no protection from the wind on the plateau.

Image of open terrain along route
Open terrain along route

Even with the trail markers, the route is difficult to follow once you leave the security of the first 1.2 miles of snow-covered roads. You will need to refer to a topo map and a compass may come in handy.

Many of the old roads that the marked trail follows have been taken over by saplings. They have reached a size that makes travel difficult without considerable snow. For that reason, the stated season for the tour begins in January, but the best time to visit this area is springtime.

This tour description includes an 0.4 mile (+100 feet) extension to Peak 7260 that affords a view of Fisher Lake with Devils Peak as the backdrop.

Image of Peak 7260 from Fisher Lake Overlook
Peak 7260 from Fisher Lake Overlook

The return route includes a loop along the perimeter of the plateau and includes the panoramic vistas from Matrimony Ridge. However, it is easier to simply return by the route you skied to Fisher Lake Overlook. More ambitious skiers can lengthen this tour by making High Loch Leven Lake their destination.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.1
Elevation change: +50 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski southwest on the snow-covered road for 0.1 mile until you reach a road junction (2). This junction may be difficult to see if the railroad has plowed this first section; look carefully above the berm for a road heading south (left). Do not be discouraged if this first section is in poor condition; the snow-players do not venture far.

Miles: 0.1 - 0.7
Elevation change: +250 feet

Turn south (left) and follow the road for 0.6 mile until you reach the railroad tracks (3). Unless you are looking hard, you will not notice that you pass one road on your right in this section.

Take off your skis and cross the railroad tracks. Be aware that in heavy snow years the banks on both sides of the tracks can be difficult to negotiate. You may find a shovel useful.

It goes without saying that you should exercise extreme caution when crossing the railroad tracks — use both your eyes and ears.

After crossing the tracks, locate the extension of the road on which you have been skiing. It is marked with a sign indicating the start of the High Loch Leven Lake Trail. That ski trail is described in the High Loch Leven Lake tour.

Miles: 0.7 - 0.9
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski southwest, at first on either the marked trail or the re-aligned road and then on their combination, for a total of 0.2 mile until you reach an obscure road junction (4). The junction is located approximately 100 feet before the sign indicating that you should turn right.

A great deal of change has occurred near the road junction since the trail was first marked in 1991. The trail sign marks where the trail used to turn onto Royal Gorge's Rainbow Interconnect Trail. They no longer groom that trail and it is now over-grown so it is preferable to turn at the actual road junction. However, that junction is partially over-grown and care is necessary to locate it.

In the "good-old days" you would be signaled that you had past the road junction when you encountered one of Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort's warming huts. It no longer exists.

Miles: 0.9 - 1.2
Elevation change: +150 feet

Turn southwest (right) onto the lesser road and climb for 0.3 mile until you reach a flat area (5) where the marked backcountry ski trail and the defunct Rainbow Interconnect Trail split. The defunct trail veers to the northwest (right) and the High Loch Leven Lake Trail veers to the southwest (left).

Miles: 1.2 - 1.9
Elevation change:
+250 feet

Leave the road and follow the marked trail southwest and then south for a total of 0.7 mile until you reach more open terrain (9). Waypoints 6, 7 and 8 in this section are provided as additional help in following the marked trail if you are using a GPS. Likewise, extra waypoints are provided in other sections to follow.

Miles: 1.9 - 2.2
Elevation change: +50 feet

Ski south and then west across open terrain keeping the trees to your right for a total of 0.3 mile until you reach a large ski trail marker (11) located on one of the few trees in this area. In this section you must exercise patience in locating each successive trail marker. They are few and far between.

Miles: 2.2 - 2.7
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski southwest for 0.5 mile until intersect a road (13) to the west of a horseshoe-shaped pond. The marked trail to High Loch Leven Lake follows the road to the west (right). The tour to Fisher Lake Overlook leaves the marked trail and road, and continues south.

Miles: 2.7 - 2.9
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski south on level terrain and then climb for a total of 0.2 mile until you reach Fisher Lake Overlook (14).

Image of near Fisher Lake Overlook
Near Fisher Lake Overlook

To visit Peak 7260 from Fisher Lake Overlook

Miles: 0.0 - 0.4
Elevation change: +100 feet

Ski west along the obvious ridge and then veer to the south for a total of 0.4 mile until you reach Peak 7260 (16).

Image of Fisher Lake with Devils Peak in the background
Fisher Lake with Devils Peak in the background

Miles: 0.4 - 0.8
Elevation change: -100 feet

Retrace the route for 0.4 miles back to Fisher Lake Overlook (14).

Image of skiers returning to Fisher Lake Overlook from Peak 7260
Returning to Fisher Lake Overlook from Peak 7260

The tour returns to the trailhead from Fisher Lake overlook via a loop along the perimeter of the plateau though you can retrace your tracks if desired.

Miles: 2.9 - 3.7
Elevation change: +150, -250 feet

Ski generally northeast, skirting the perimeter of the plateau, for 0.8 mile until you reach Peak 7000 (15) on Matrimony Ridge. In this section you must loop around a gully.

Miles: 3.7 - 3.8
Elevation change: -100 feet

Descend north for 0.1 mile until you intersect the marked trail (10) you skied on earlier. The point at which you intersect the trail will depend on the route you take.

Miles: 3.8 - 5.9
Elevation change: -850 feet

Retrace the route for 2.1 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour