I made an attempt to get up here this last winter, but 6 miles of snowshoeing ended up being a bit more of a day than my friend and I were up for. Getting up this summer was a completely different experience.
We picked an alternate entrance, deciding to come in from the Allenspark trailhead rather than the national park. The route is a lot more attractive with plenty of trees for shade, and shaves about a mile off the trip each way. There’s not a ton of parking and when we got in a bit before noon we got the last available spot at the trailhead. It’s a bit tough to find the trailhead but if you drive around in Allenspark trying to stay as north and west as possible, you’ll come across it at some point. If you drive by it, you’ll notice it.
The hike is an ideal summer hike. Most of it is in shade with a few occasional breaks that have great views. There’s a decent amount of traffic but not too many dogs. Horses/mules are allowed and you’ll come across manure left on the trail by inconsiderate riders but it’s not terribly frequent.
There are a couple stream crossings right before you get to Finch Lake, but they’re all easily passible without getting your feet wet, though the temptation to take shoes/socks off and soak your feet is definitely great. Finch lake is beautiful and has several camp sites for park visitors. I’m not sure of the requirements as far as payment/reservation but when we were up there, there were definitely plenty of open sites. The rules in this area are that no campfires are allowed though, so bring a camp stove if you want to cook.
The trail from Finch lake up to Pear lake loosely follows Cony Creek the rest of the way up for a gain of a bit over 2000ft. There are more campsites up at Pear lake but we saw only 10 or so people up there even during the day, and we saw no other campers around. The lake is right near the border of National Park and National Forest. The rules for camping are significantly relaxed for camping in the forest so bushwhacking over there may get you a better camping spot if you’re willing to wander around and find something good. 12 miles round trip and camping at over 10,000ft means altitude sickness is a concern, but we stayed hydrated and were in good shape.
Finch Lake had great fishing, though there are a lot of requirements as they’re trying to bring native Greenback trout back to the lakes. No barbs, catch and release only, no live bait, etc. It took me a while to find just the right fly but once I did things picked up quite a bit. Overall this was a great trip and I’d definitely do it again.