ApproachThere are two possible trailheads for this hike.
Island Lake: Take the Highway 65 exit off I-70 17 miles east of Grand Junction. Drive south on Highway 65 to Island Lake, which is 8 miles beyond Mesa Lakes Resort. Watch for the sign on the left of the highway just past the Grand Mesa Lodge. Park at the trailhead.
Eggleston Lake: Continue past Island Lake and turn left on FR 121. Drive this paved road 2.5 miles to a junction. Turn left and drive another .9 miles to the parking lot and trailhead.
Route DescriptionThis is a loop hike. You can start at either trailhead. The Island Lake route is slightly longer (1 mile), but it is a shorter drive. The loop will be described from the Island Lake trailhead. It is recommended you hike in a direction that takes you over the top first, in order to avoid the afternooon thunderstorms. There is no where to get off the knife edge in a thunderstorm, so beware, and do this section early!
From the Island Lake trailhead, follow the trail up to a junction. Bear left here. The trail switchbacks up a steep slope and reaches another junction. Turn right here. The trail reaches the ridge crest after a pleasant walk through the forest. Continue along the trail along the ridge crest. The ridge becomes a knife edge with steep cliffs on either side of the trail. This is the most spectacular section. The views are incredible, and are some of the best in Colorado. You will see many lakes down on the Mesa, as well as the Elk Mountains, San Juans, and the La Sal Mountains of Utah, the Book Cliffs, and surrounding valleys. This ridge is a real challenge for winter climbers. Stay off the ridge when there is a chance of thunderstorms! The trail follows the spectacular ridge for a few miles and then switchbacks down to Bull Finch Reservior. A side trail heads right (west) to Butts Lake. The main trail heads down the slope to Eggleston Lake, which is the alternate trailhead. Follow the trail to the right (west) until you reach a gravel road. Find the trail on the other side of the road, don't follow the gravel road. Continue on the trail to the junction near the Island Lake trailhead. There are many wildflowers in this section in early and mid summer. Turn left and follow the trail back to your vehicle. The total distance for the loop is 11 miles from Island Lake, or 10 miles from Eggleston Lake.