Explore backpacking - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Third time hiking this trail (first during winter and the second during summer). Despite it being mid-October, there was still a lot of snow on the upper two-thirds of the trail, so definitely bring appropriate gear and be prepared to stay out all day; it's a very long trek. Mirror Lake was frozen over but there are some nearby streams to get fresh water, if needed. Also, the gate to access Monarch Lake trailhead was open, but I know they close it as it gets close to winter so double-check this before heading out, as it can add an extra 2 miles (round trip) to the hike. Otherwise, beautiful hike - one of my favorites in Colorado.

hiking
5 days ago

Striking views of shear rock faces, a true mountain lake

A bunch of moose, a bunch of lakes

Amazing beautiful Trail! Fantastic rock formations if you go all the way up. We will be back. Camped at
Goose Creek campground, but could have camped on the trail. Got fantastic photos!

hiking
6 days ago

It's a pretty trail that I'm sure is nicer during the summer months. More than half the trail is now iced over towards the higher elevation. Made for an interesting trip up and down. Once you arrive, its very nice view but I'm partial to others in RMNP like Sky Pond, Emerald, etc. PS: The actual hike is more like 4 miles each way if my Suunto is correct.

I did this trail and tracked it on my Fitbit, I knew my Fitbit would track the distance a little less than what the distance really is from my experience but it was a little more than six miles one way to Lake Verna from the East trailhead. It was totally worth it but I’m not sure what everyone is smoking to think it’s 12.9 round trip. I was tracking at least 15 Miles total. The sign at the trailhead can not be accurate unless it’s tracking the river that comes from the lake, before you actually get to the huge lake. We didn’t see any wild life and we were the only ones on the trail for a few hours. We started around 8:30am and arrived at 1:30pm. We headed back at 2:00pm and got to the parking lot around 5:30pm. It was beautiful but don’t underestimate the distance and the amount of hills that are required to climb to get to the lake.

fishing
9 days ago

Great time hiking, camping, and fishing. Can get crowded during the summer but the father out you get, the less people you run in to.

Breck trailhead just past peak 7 base. Easy hike with little elevation through beautiful forests

hiking
12 days ago

Beautiful! Nice fall hike featuring some golden aspens and a couple waterfalls. In the early morning it was a misty hike through a cloud, which I thought made the whole experience even cooler.

Great trail, plenty of wildlife and awesome views!!

hiking
13 days ago

Beautiful hike! We got to the trailhead at 8 a.m. and we were the 4th car in the lot and pretty much had the trail to ourselves. The first two miles are very easy with minimal elevation gain and smoother trails. Miles 3 & 4 were a constant climb at a moderate rate. The trail got rockier so I’d recommend good shoes, they were very slick when wet. The fall colors were still very vivid today. After 11a, the trail got significantly more crowded and all of the lots were full, so be sure to get there early if you don’t want to add additional miles to your hike. The waterfall is one of the best I’ve seen so far, and the lake was barely visible through the fog but still worth the climb!

trail running
18 days ago

Heavy incline with the altitude but through piney single track. Rocky but not overly technical, small lake at the end and an easy pacer down.

trail running
18 days ago

Amazing trail, the lakes and creeks are gorgeous.

Probably one of the best hikes I’ve done in CO. Like others have said, makes for a LONG day hike - still so worth it. Wish I had 2 or 3 nights to explore the surrounding Crater Lakes area.

There are 12 designated camping spots around crater lake. On a Saturday the place was packed with campers. The ranger must’ve given out at least a dozen citations. Even though permits are not required at this time of year, got to get up there early to claim a spot.

Will definitely be bringing the pack for next time!

hiking
20 days ago

It’s a great hike with a nice goal and view - really moderate and nice to do if you arrive late to the park one day.

Ah, this was a great hike. I went with my dog last Saturday and we had a blast. Arrived at the trailhead around 7am. It was pretty busy but still over 10 spots available. I started on Hessie Trail and went to Lost Lake. After Lost Lake, I hiked on Devils Thumb for a few miles. We turned around about 2miles from Jasper Lake because we were short on time. Wish I could’ve made it to the lake because the weather was perfect. My Fitbit said we went 12miles. Not sure how accurate it is though. We got back to my car around 11ish. Lots of cars waiting for parking and crowds of people on the trail. Again, so glad we got there early and hope to go back to hike to the lake soon.

If you want to go to Crater Lake I would definitely suggest doing an overnight backpacking trip. Its too far for one day. I think its also longer than listed. I saw a lot of HUGE moose. Bring tons of water. Don’t do it alone like I did.

This was an awesome trail, be ready to climb. With an almost nonstop gain in elevation until you reach the lake this is definitely an awesome workout with views that make up for every step you climb. Check out my IG for pictures from the hike @alvarado_dan_

Beautiful hike! Enjoyed the amazing falls, peaceful lake and wildlife!

Great hike on Saturday, 9/22. Very few people on trail. Sunny, clear day, sea level friend joined us and did fine! The first lake you come to is just as beautiful as Lower Missouri Lake, which is just up a bit. We didn’t do the loop to connect up to Fancy Lake Trail bec two in our party were tired. Will try that next time.

Great hike but take it to Odessa lake and finish the loop to Bear Lake

Absolutely gorgeous lake! I agree with others stating this trail is more moderate than “hard”. I’d say the first 3.5 miles is moderate and the last push to the lake is moderate+. You spend the majority of the hike on a tree lined trail but there are a few moments where you get a great view of Wild Basin. The trail is OK (for RMNP), the lake is worth the trek though! Also, aspens are almost done so get up here quick!

The is our favorite hike! It’s challenging, beautiful and chalked full of wildlife. We saw about 20 Elk, 6 deer and our bonus for getting to fern lake was 2 moose right at the mouth of the lake. Parking was limited so we added about 2 miles to our trek. All said and done we hiked 10 miles and enjoyed every minute!

Lovely and manageable hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Loved this hike. It was my first hike in Colorado, so I definitely thought it was 'hard'. The ending at Sandbeach lake is beautiful and the hike along the way takes you through beautiful terrain. Highly recommend - especially coming from Denver.

Tough hike but very beautiful. The road to the trailhead was a long dirt road but not bad as far as clearance goes-- only the last mile or so was uncomfortably bumpy/slow, I imagine most vehicles could make it up. The beginning of the trail is steep, then it levels out a little with less dramatic gains. Don't be fooled by the first lake you come to... continue up about another 1/4 mile ish to see the bigger lake, it's worth it! Gorgeous water color and mountain backdrop. Highly recommend this for a great workout and views. Not too much fall color change on the hike bc of the tree composition in the area, but the drive from Minturn was stunning with tons of aspens.

hiking
1 month ago

A bit crowded on a September weekend, but most trails in the park are at this time. We had to do about .8 miles of road-walking from the shuttle stop, where we were lucky to get a parking space (there were tons of people circling the lots and walking the road). Much of the trail goes through the burn area, which detracts from the scenery, and it's also the most horse-poop-covered trail I've seen in the park. Gross. The lake is lovely and we saw a couple of moose (and the crowds thin after each viewpoint - the pond and the falls - so there weren't tons of people who made it all the way to the lake. We didn't have time to do Odessa, which is reportedly great, but just Fern Lake as a destination was only so-so compared to other hikes in RMNP.

Such a beautiful and fun hike! So many water features on the way up and beautiful foliage. Love every mile!

Hiked nearly to the lake, had to turn around due to time. The last portion of hike (past the tree with grave marker/cant miss it) is mostly uphill. Lots to see on this hike, variety of terrain, plenty of shade, beautiful views.

Love this area. We did the goose creek loop counter-clockwise, 3 nights and 4 days. Days 2 and 3 are by far the toughest, lots of uphill and steep switchbacks. Stayed on McGurdy park trail instead of taking the Lake Park “shortcut”. Pretty much all downhill from Hankins pass back to the trailhead. It was my 10 year old son’s first pack it in pack it out trip. He did great, so any dedicated novice can do this.

Load More