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Eagle and Symphony Lakes: Photo Ops Abound

eagle lake

  • Distance: About 12 miles RT
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Trailhead: South Fork Eagle River
  • Notes: This trail is very popular, and for good reason. It may be hard to find parking — or solitude — on sunny weekend days.

The crowning jewel of the South Fork Eagle River trailhead, this trail takes you on a 5.5-mile ramble to glacier-fed Eagle Lake with its characteristically blue-green, silty water, then another half mile or so to Symphony Lake, which is a stunning dark blue — presumably fed by snowmelt or an underground spring.

The trail itself is quite easy: Almost 3 miles down to a bridge across photogenic Eagle River. Cue the obligatory river shot…

South Fork Eagle River

…followed by another 2 miles across the valley floor, then a half mile or so of boulder hopping to reach Eagle Lake. Cairns like what you see below sort of show the way, but the “trail” through the boulder field is so fragmented that they’re honestly not much use.

You’d do better to home in on the shrieks of indignant seagulls. At least one pair has chosen — for some indecipherable reason — to nest repeatedly in the boulder field. They entertain themselves by dive-bombing (and sometimes pooping on) hikers who manage to find the easiest way through the boulders.eagle lake with cairn

See below for an example of the boulders. They’re relatively mild if you take your time, and most dogs can handle them — but a few folks (dogs and people alike) may be intimidated and decide it’s not worth the bother. Symphony Lake is just on the other side of the obvious spine to the right of Eagle Lake.

eagle lake and boulders