Twin Lakes FAIL

Not far off the Campsite Shortcut trail, two small lakes lie on a small bench on the hillside. They’re called Twin Lakes presumably due to their being next to each other because they’re not twins in any other regard.

The Foster guide says to take the Campsite Shortcut trail to the Siskin campsite, then head directly uphill 400 vertical feet. I copied that page from the guide and printed out a section of the 7.5′ topo map and headed off. I didn’t bother getting an early start, as it’s a fairly short hike – something like 3.3 miles to the first lake. I decided to make it a loop and visit Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascades on the way back.

The main trail from the Wild Basin trailhead is a busy and well maintained trail. The first section runs alongside North St. Vrain Creek. Most hikers along this section go only to Calypso Cascades or Ouzel Falls; it’s pretty common to see folks wearing flip-flops and carrying no water. Just before the main trail crosses the creek, there’s a turn off for the campsites – thus the Campsite Shortcut trail. When heading to Thunder Lake or Lion Lake, I always take this route to save some distance and get away from the crowds.

Not being a camper, I never paid much attention to these campsites. So even though I’ve been up and down this trail several times, I needed to watch for the sign to Siskin. I was a bit surprised to reach the Thunder Lake trail junction having only noticed one campsite, and that wasn’t Siskin. Clearly, I was not paying close enough attention, so I turned around and headed back. I didn’t want to go too far, so I decided to just head uphill and use the map to find my way.

Bushwhacking here isn’t that difficult. The slope wasn’t terribly steep, and there wasn’t that much deadfall to deal with. Before long, I had gained quite a bit of elevation. Being in a forest, though, I didn’t have a clear view of any landmarks. I don’t carry GPS so I wasn’t sure where I was in relation to the lakes. At one point I decided I had climbed higher than the lakes, so I zig zagged down a bit. I even thought I saw water once but was mistaken. Next I felt I’d descended too far, so I zig zagged up a bit.

By 12:15 I found myself on a pile of large boulders sitting in the sun with a nice view of the valleys to the west. I decided it was a pleasant enough place to have my lunch and watch the world go by. I set up the SLR for a time lapse ate my sandwich. It only took a few minutes for the battery to discharge completely. Clearly, I’ll need to get the battery grip for the camera if I’m going to get serious with it.

After lunch, I set off in search of the lakes again. I had decided that I was, indeed, a couple of hundred feet too high. So I zig zagged down the slope. It wasn’t long before I had gone down too far and still no sign of the lake. I headed more or less due west intending to meed the Thunder Lake trail to complete my planned loop. The forest floor here was fairly flat and walking was very easy. After a few minutes of walking through this flat area I came across a campsite. I guessed it was Siskin, but saw no signs. Clearly, I wouldn’t find Twin Lakes today. For the rest of the afternoon, U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For kept bouncing around my brain.

Not long after reaching the campsite, I found a trail. I wasn’t sure whether it was the shortcut or the main trail, so I kept going west. When I found a pile of horse dung I knew I was on the main trail, as no livestock is allowed on the shortcut. Except llamas, and I doubted llama dung looked like horse dung. So I turned around. A few hundred yards down the trail I found a sign for the Siskin campsite. Had I known it wasn’t on the shortcut but on the Thunder Lake trail, I have no doubt I’d have found the lakes. I was probably just a few yards east of them at some point.

I hadn’t encountered other hikers since I left the trailhead. From Ouzel Falls back to the trailhead, the trail was much more crowded as expected. Not as crowded as a mid-summer day, but I didn’t go more than five minutes without running into somebody.

At Ouzel Falls I set up both cameras for time lapses. This was an experiment – I didn’t really know what to expect. In the end, though, none of the time lapse footage was worthwhile. The wind moved the tripod during the first SLR segment and I didn’t deal with the lighting at the falls properly.

The weather was quite nice – sunny and warm with a few clouds scattered here and there. It was a bit windy; the pines didn’t so much “whisper” as mildly roar, but on the forest floor the wind was never much of an issue.


Trailhead 10:20 AM
Campsite Shortcut 10:50 AM
Leave trail 11:35 AM
Return to trail 01:20 PM
Ouzel Falls 01:50 PM
Calypso Cascades 02:40 PM
Trailhead 03:15 PM