Cascade Creek Trail to Mirror Lake and Crater Lake

HARD 51 reviews
#22 of 126 trails in

Cascade Creek Trail to Mirror Lake and Crater Lake is a 13.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Elkdale, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
13.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2375 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

Permits required for overnight camping June-Mid September, designated sites only. No campfires allowed. Dogs on leash only.

hiking
12 hours ago

hiking
11 days ago

One of the more challenging hikes I’ve done. But also one of the most beautiful. Started around 8am and finished at 5pm - basically sunup to sundown. The road to access Monarch Lake trailhead was closed (not sure why), but it adds an extra mile (2 round trip) to the hike. I spent about an hour at Crater/Mirror Lake, walking around and chatting with some fellow hikers. Once it was all said and done the trip totaled to about 20 miles, so I’m not sure the 13.7 listed here is completely accurate, as other reviewers pointed out.

Be advised that this is a long and difficult trail, especially during this time of the year. But it’s very rewarding! You won’t be able to see Eagle Peak until you’re about a mile away, but holy crap on a cracker is it gorgeous - like something from a fairytale. Plenty of ice and snow (1-2 ft around the lakes), so come prepared.

hiking
23 days ago

One of the best hikes I’ve done in Colorado. It ended up being around 15 miles. The first 4-5 in are pretty easy and flat as you walk beside a lake and along a creek. When you start climbing toward the waterfall it gets pretty steep. The last 2-3 to crater lake were pretty steep and challenging.

My friend and I are both in good shape and experienced hikers and we were pretty smoked. Also there is around 1-2 feet of snow up by the lake now and I don’t advise making the hike this late in the season without proper preparation.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This was one of the best hikes I did while in the area.

hiking
1 month ago

2 months ago

An absolutely wonderful hike with beautiful scenery the entire way- waterfalls, meadows, and snow capped peaks. Unfortunately, I did not see any moose. Mellow elevation gain with level stretches that let my tired knees recover. I am an avid hiker, and I’d say this is the best hike I’ve ever done. The hike to Crater Lake is 16 miles, so start early and make sure you make it back before sundown.

@colorado_mountain_man on Instagram

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome hike, very exhausting by well worth it!! Got to see some Moose!

hiking
2 months ago

One of the most beautiful hikes I've done in CO! It's long but because of that the elevation gain is gradual, making it easy to enjoy the beautiful scenery! Waterfalls, wildflowers, aspens, multiple types of terrain. So good! Even saw some moose. Trailhead still had plenty of parking at 8am. I'd say this is a must do in CO!

hiking
2 months ago

2 months ago

3 months ago

Great hike with lots of wildlife. I've done this trail now 3 times and it never disappoints. Lots of moose to be seen on this trail as well as beautiful views.

3 months ago

Beautiful hike! Too bad I picked the haziest day of the year for this one, it kind of spoiled the view. We left the trailhead just before 7am and arrived back at the car just before 3. 8hrs, 15.5 miles including side adventures.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

My friends and I took on this bad boy on Saturday morning and although it was the longest hike we've ever done in a single day, it was well worth it.

We camped the night at Willow Creek Campground and started our journey around 7:30 am. We saw very few people trying to complete the out-and-back trek in a single day, but quite a few backpackers who stayed at Pawnee Lake the night before. There were a plethora of water features along the way, including Cascade Falls, which was incredibly peaceful, as you can go directly up to the falls and get a little wet if you feel inclined.

We reached Mirror Lake around 11 am and had the whole place to ourselves for at least 30 minutes, which was nice. My buddy even went for a swim! It was hard to leave such a magnificent site and the reflection of Lone Eagle Peak in the motionless body of water made it seem almost unreal. It was truly a picture perfect day and the tiny bit of cloud cover allowed me to capture an amazing pic of the peak reflecting off the lake.

We made it back to our car around 3:30 pm, making the round trip total around 8 hours, which included some down time at the lake. This was an absolutely breathtaking hike and I would certainly do it again. However, next time I would camp the night at the lake just to make it a bit more manageable.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

4 months ago

Awesome hike! Follows a creek with tons of waterfalls and goes through some amazing meadows. The view from Crater Lake is incredible. I did this as a day hike, not sure I would recommend that. It took us 7 hours of walking total, which can be quite a challenge at that kind of altitude. Staying the night is definitely the way to go.