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

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hiking
20 hours ago

We were told by the bus driver that Crater Lake was a lot more dried up this year, and that was completely obvious once we saw the lake. I’m sure it would have been a lot more attractive if the water were higher. But pretty views throughout the hike! Saw a ton of families, so should be doable for most kiddos. And if you have a dog, they’ll probably enjoy cooling off in the lake at the top.

I’m physically active so I thought the trail itself was mostly easy, but we flew in from GA ~18 hours before the hike and I definitely felt some negative affects of the altitude adjustment. If you’re not used to high altitudes, bring plenty of water and remember to take deep breaths.

Tough and beautiful - worth every step!

hiking
1 day ago

Hike and mountain scenery is pleasant however the 10 mile long forest road filed with Rental Vehicles driving like pricks and the Denver crowd flocking to the trail with Bluetooth Speakers and trash everywhere make for an overall unpleasant experience.

Soooo crowded-went around 10:30 on a Saturday so not surprising. Pretty hike with 2 waterfalls. The one at the top is big and really pretty!

The hike is great, lake is underwhelming. Views along the hike are awesome.

For those of us not used to the altitude (we are from GA) this was a pretty difficult hike on the way to Crater Lake. Mostly uphill and very rocky. Took about an hour hike to get to Crater Lake but the view was gorgeous! Plan on packing a lunch or snacks and taking in the view—and a short rest! Definitely want to get there early as it gets very crowded on the narrow, rocky trail as the day progresses. We got to Highlands at about 8:15 to take the bus up to Maroon Bells. Go early—very popular destination! Bring lots of water too.

on Crater Lake Trail

hiking
5 days ago

I found the low level of the lake and the dirty water to be a little underwhelming. The view of the surrounding mountains is very nice, as is the aspen forest on the way in.

hiking
5 days ago

So beautiful! One of my favorite Alpine lakes now. Can’t beat that turquoise water with a mountain backdrop. The road was a little bumpy to the trailhead, but not as bad as I anticipated. My car made it just fine. Lots of cattle on the trail and I saw a terrified adolescent bear cub. Made me kinda sad at how scared he was. :(

Mix of sandy, rocky, hilly and flat. Trail is narrow at times with heavy brush surrounding. Made it to 2nd falls. Took just over an hour each way. Some sun and some shade. Bring plenty of water. Can be challenging in places. Worth it to get to overlook.

What an amazing hike! This was very challenging yet very rewarding once you finally get to the lake.
There is a lower parking lot which is where most folks park. Getting up to the trail head is not that daunting and I could have made it in my Forester(or any vehicle with 8 inches or more of clearance). Compared to the drive up to Grays and Torreys, the road up to there is a cake walk.
The overall trip is 12 miles as listed here but there is a sign about a mile in that says the lake is 4 miles away. The last 2 miles of this hike is where the incline sets in(and you ascend over 1k ft) while the first 4 miles are fairly flat as you go through the valley.
Overall, this hike is manageable and the lake itself is beautiful. It is covered most of the way with a few river crossings that you do not need to remove your shoes for. It would be amazing to camp at one of the spots right next to the lake and have the views looking over the valley be the first thing you see in the morning

Stunning and not too hard at all. But rocky in parts

I’d give it 5 but the first bit is quite busy - we went on a Sunday and everyone plus their mother was there. The second waterfall is glorious, and was much quieter. A quick swim in freezing water is just the tonic, and there are some beautiful views on the way down. Really easy to reach from Steamboat Springs too.

Probably the most beautiful hike in Colorado. Waterfalls, wildflowers, about 10 lakes, fabulous views and incredible rock formations. By the times you hike around the lakes you’ll probably hike around 12 to 13 miles. I recommend taking trekking sticks as there are some steeper rocks to climb over.

Be prepared for a workout! Hiking uphill almost the entire way to the top. Pretty rocky. The view is worth the hike to the top though! Just watch the trail carefully— it’s so rocky at the top, I took a wrong turn 3 times coming down; the trail is easy to use, especially since people have created a bunch of little cutoff trails to get some good views. The waterfalls are beautiful!

hiking
8 days ago

Go early to beat the crowds and dress in layers.

hiking
9 days ago

Can’t say a lot about the trail. I loved what I saw , but after a mile in , in the drizzling rain it started lightning!! So , this will have to wait until a better day!

hiking
9 days ago

There is just one "Fancy Lake." The trail to it is about 2.6 miles with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. (The contours on these maps are confusing because the contour interval is 10 meters (about 33 feet) whereas every fifth contour is labelled with the elevation in feet.) The first 1.5 mile passes through pine forest before some meadows with wildflowers start to appear. This part is moderately difficult.

The trail from the lake to Fancy Pass gains about 870 feet in 0.7 mile, of which the last half is especially steep and difficult. In particular, it is easy to miss where the trail jogs to the right, and climb up a natural rock chute that was used for dropping mine tailings to a lower elevation. The trail is difficult enough, but the mining chute still has loose tailings in it and is worse. It is hard to appreciate the scenery while focusing on your footing, but as others have said, the view from the pass -- particularly to the north down the valley of Cross Creek -- is spectacular.

Most people who get to Fancy Pass continue to Missouri Pass and return to the trailhead by way of the Missouri Lakes Trail, which starts at the same parking area. I think that that route has better alpine scenery with less extremely difficult trail conditions than the Fancy Pass Trail described here.

Last couple of miles to trailhead were uphill, unpaved and rocky with lots of potholes Trailhead is well marked and there is a parking lot. When we arrived, there were lots of cows all around the start of the hike—lots of cows=lots of cow pies. Long hike to get to lake—we never made it. We stopped an hour in when we passed other hikers who said it was another 1 1/2 hours to the lake. There were some pretty vistas along the way. Was a cloudy, drizzling day so views could have been even better.

hiking
12 days ago

Amazing views at Maroon Lake (starting point) and at Crater Lake! I found this to be more easy to moderate...the moderate being due to the higher elevation and all the rocks. The rocks are no joke. I rolled my ankle a few times in hiking shoes...wished I had full on boots. There are really only a couple patches without rocks, so be prepared for that. We started around 11:45 on a Wednesday in July and it was still super busy. Come early to enjoy the peace and quiet. Took us about 2hrs round trip, plus about 30 minutes of lounging at Crater Lake.

We loved this hike. It wasn’t too bad at all. The road getting up to here after Judd Falls parking lot is rough and you should have AWD/4WD and some clearance. The incline up isn’t too bad. The last mile or so is steeper but not too bad. When you get to the lake make sure you hike up the rock in the center of the lake for some amazing views! One of the best hikes I have ever taken!

Amazing! Not an avid hiker and was able to navigate well. Bring water!!! Hiked to the second falls after turning back half way earlier in the week...so glad we went back! The views and scenery are so worth it! Will head for the lake next time!

hiking
14 days ago

Very crowded, party atmosphere, and everyone there was stoned and left no room in the hot spring (4pm). Maybe try early morning before they all show up.

my first hike it was amazing but snow kept us from finding the lake at the top

This is one of my favorite hikes. The trail is a bit busy on weekends but worth it!! Kid and dog friendly but watch your footing because it gets a bit rocky!

This is a really nice trail with great views, beautiful forest and waterfalls on the way up. Views at the lakes are nice. Great day in the hills!

Such a beautiful hike up, and of course amazing lake at the top. Good workout too!

Great hike and doable with young children. Bug spray is helpful walking through the woods. A lot of loose rocks along the path so tread carefully. If you’re planning to go on a weekend and want to avoid taking the bus, plan to arrive well before 8am. We reached around 7:50am and the lot was already full and closed.

Gorgeous hike, quickly leave the trees for open hiking through fields of wildflowers surrounded by rugged peaks. Reminds me more of the Alps than a typical setting in the Rockies. BUT, and it’s a big but, it’s easy to forget in this range they the valleys are high and the ridges even higher - we got crushed by a massive hailstorm at 11:30am on our way down and even deep in the valley, there was no cover and a big hurting from nickel hail that accumulated thick on the trail. Respect the weather, and remember that the storms don’t always wait till the afternoon.

hiking
16 days ago

Great trip! We got there at 5:45, parked, got our gear and hit Maroon lake about 6:15am. Stopped to take pictures then started our hike to Crater Lake. Very rocky, but so worth the trip. Got up to Crater Lake about 7:20am, sat around and watched a momma duck and her ducklings swim around the lake when some dips&*t had his dog unleashed. Dog went after the ducks, while owner laughed. A bunch of us started yelling at him and about 2-3 minutes later had the dog on a leash (sadly we ran into them about 2 miles up the trail past the lake and the dog was off leash again). Our hiking goal wasn’t to go much further, but we did venture up another mile and half.

We turned around and started back down. Got back to Crater Lake and took a break to see the bells in a later (11:00am) light. Started our trip back down and it was busier than Cherry Creek Mall at Christmas!! You can tell when the buses drop people off. About every 15 minutes there would be a new wave of tourists heading up to the lake with a camelback, no food, no protection, and their poodle (on leash) struggling to get up and over the rocks.

Got to our car and headed down the mountain. We hit 82 and started to head west and about a minute later got dumped on. Our thoughts were with all of those people hiking with nothing to protect them from the elements.

Would I do this again? Yes, during the week, after Labor Day, and at 5:30am.

hiking
18 days ago

This trail is filled with incredible beauty. The wild flowers during the summer are a very nice touch. The fishing in the upper lake was great. Overall excellent trail for family.

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