Backpack to Sand Creek Lakes

Colorado Music Pass Trailhead

Added by Jarad Switzer

Excellent fishing at these two magnificent lakes in the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness with great day hiking options.

Start at the Music Pass trail head south of Westcliffe, Colorado off County Road 119. You will need a 4x4 with high clearance to get to the actual trailhead as the last 2.5 miles are rough. Otherwise, park at the Crape Creek TH and walk the 2.5 miles up to Music Pass Trailhead.

Once on the trail, the first mile starts out going straight up toward Music Pass where you will achieve most of your elevation gain reaching 11,446 feet before descending toward the Sand Creek Lakes. Only Upper Sand Creek lake is listed at a higher elevation of 11,745 feet. After mile one you will reach the top of the pass which is above tree line. You will see the Sangre De Cristo Wilderness trail sign at the top of the pass and absolutely stunning views Sand Creek Valley. You can see Tijeras Peak directly to the West. Lower Sand Creek Lake lies right beneath it where I suggest you camp.

You will descend down Music pass down into a valley and ultimately a meadow where there could be good chances of spotting some wildlife. After about a mile and half to 2 miles you will reach a trail junction for Upper and Lower sand creeks lakes. There is one creek crossing you will have to do. Take the trail to Lower Sand Creek lake. You can camp at Upper Sand Creek lake and it's gorgeous but you are just a bit more exposed up there.

There is good fishing in both lakes. If you camp at the lower lake a good day hike is to the Upper Sand Creek Lake. You backtrack a bit on the trail you came in on and take the other trail at the junction for about another mile and half or so. It's more exposed up there but gorgeous.

Another great day hike option is to climb Mt. Tijeras which towers above Lower Sand Creek Lake. Keep in mind, there is no known trail for this and it requires a little route finding. There is a tough very steep scramble up a little cut through on the North West wall that runs along the lake to be able to get up to the peak. It's very hard to notice until you get close to it. You are rewarded with some very stunning views of the lake and of Music Pass to the East once up the cut through. With a remaining short climb and walk along a ridge, the summit of Tijeras at 13,604 feet awaits and amazing views of other 14'ers in the area.

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Stove and cooking utensils
  • Clothing and rainwear
  • Sturdy boots
  • Camera
  • Fishing Pole and Bait
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Backpacking, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1700 Feet




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How to Get There

9 months ago

Saturday Run

Being close to home makes it good location for a quick mid morning with the dogs.

9 months ago

Added by Jarad Switzer

Colorado Native. Outdoor Enthusiast. Beer Love. 
 Self-taught photographer who loves playing outside as much as possible. 

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