From Highway 9 16 miles north of Silverthorne (16.7 miles from exit 205 on I-70) turn west on County Road 30 (at the south end of Green Mountain Reservoir) posted for Heeney. Follow the road 5.4 miles to County Road 1725 (Cataract Creek Road) and turn left following the road 2.3 miles to the Surprise Trailhead.
Or from Kremmling, follow Highway 9 south for 12.4 miles to the Green Mountain Reservoir. Follow County Road 30 passing along Green Mountain Reservoir and through Heeney for 5.1 miles to County Road 1725 (Cataract Creek Road) and turn right following the road 2.3 miles to the Surprise Trailhead at Lower Cataract Lake. There is a small fee for parking at the trailhead. The road is gravel, but any car should be able to make it to the trailhead.
Overview Map-The Cataract Lake Route is the one in green.
From the trailhead follow the Surprise Trail south for 2.6 miles to a junction with the Gore Range Trail. Turn left and follow the trail a short distance to Surprise Lake. Continue west along the Gore Range Trail reaching another junction after after 0.6 miles from Surprise Lake. Turn right here and follow the trail 1.9 mile to Upper Cataract Lake. Upper Cataract Lake is in a very spectacular setting and the huge north face of Eagles Nest Peak (but not the highest summit) is in full view. The lake is at 10,756 feet and 5.1 miles from the trailhead. From Cataract Lake, continue along the trail with some up and downs before descending to Mirror Lake after another 1.4 miles from Upper Cataract Lake. Mirror Lake is also in a spectacular setting and is at 10,560 feet elevation.
From Mirror Lake, follow the trail southwest passing through some beautiful meadows. The trail is much less used after Mirror Lake. After 1.2 miles from Mirror Lake, the trail crosses a small stream and begins to climb west and away from Cataract Creek. The trail then switchbacks and climbs up to Elliot Ridge and meeting the Elliot Ridge Trail at 11,955 feet after another 2 miles (3.2 miles from Mirror Lake). Meridian Peak is another 1.2 miles south of the junction along the Elliot Ridge Trail, and is a total of 10.9 miles from the trailhead.
Meridian Peak and elk as viewed on July 23 2011.
Onnly a good pair of boots is needed in summer.