Hike to Crater Lake

Colorado Maroon-Snowmass Trailhead

Added by Eric Schuette

Crater Lake is a beautiful and easy destination with much smaller crowds than the nearby Maroon Lake. In the fall, the trail goes through a beautiful Aspen grove that ends at the Lake, which is at the bottom of the famous and awe-inspiring Maroon Bells.

The crater lake trail begins at Maroon Lake and quickly breaks off from the scenic trail at .3 miles. Be sure to follow the signs to crater lake, which will be heading higher into the valley. The trail passes through a beautiful Aspen grove most of the way with wonderful views of 14ers, the Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak that dominate the skyline.

Just before you reach the lake you will descend a little bit from the crest of the trail at mile 1.7. Once you start dropping you will be very close to the lake, which will be on the left at 1.8 miles. The shore is open and can be explored, but please be careful as some of the shoreline is wet meadow that can be damaged easily. This is a great spot for a snack if this is you final destination or if you have higher aspirations.

Pack List

For day hikes the standard gear including:

  • Proper Clothes/Shoes
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Map
  • Camera

During the summer/fall you can camp in the area, but it is often closed for a variety of reasons (including bear/moose activity) so please call the national forest ranger station for current regulations. Also, this is in a wilderness area, so please research the restrictions and follow them. If you do camp:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Bear Canister
  • Cooking Tools
  • Water Filter and/or Purifier
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Photography, Running

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

3.6 Miles

Elev. Gain:

500 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

24 days ago

Beautiful but Crowded

I started this trail immediately after sunrise at Maroon Bells and it was very crowded. Maybe sunrise at Crater Lake would have been a better alternative! Regardless, it's a beautiful, short hike.

24 days ago

about 1 year ago

This is an easy hike, but there are some parts that are rocky, make sure you're wearing the appropriate shoes!

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

Skip the crowds at Maroon lake and hike here for a fall sunrise.

about 1 year ago

Added by Eric Schuette

I love adventure and exploring. Currently a school psychologist who tries to spend my free-time hiking, climbing, fishing, and celebrating with a good beer in Colorado. On Instagram @ericschuettephotography Cheers!!!

More Adventures Nearby

Snowshoe Jim Creek Trail

Colorado / Jim Creek Trailhead

Starting at 9,220 feet of elevation, this 5 mile out-and-back snowshoe begins its 965 foot elevation gain meandering through a quiet forest.

Run the Challenge Hill

Colorado / Challenge Hill Parking

The Basics: The Challenge Hill, or as I like to call it, the Mini-Incline, is a shrunken version of its big brother to the south in Manitou.

Connor Bruson
5 Saves

Snowshoe or Ski to Lower Montgomery Pass Yurt

Colorado / Montgomery Pass Yurts Parking

The Lower Montgomery Pass Yurt is a part of the Never Summer Nordic yurt system and can be reserved through their website here.

Sonja Saxe
9 Saves