Crater Lake Trail

MODERATE 495 reviews

Crater Lake Trail is a 3.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Aspen, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.8 miles Elevation Gain: 692 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

rocky

Directions from Aspen: From mid-June through September the Maroon Creek road is closed from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., you will need to take a shuttle. You can catch the shuttle from Rubey Park on Durant Street in Aspen. There is a fee for the Maroon Creek Shuttle.If you get an early start, drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Highway 82 and turn left at the roundabout onto Maroon Creek Road. Keep right and continue 9-1/2 miles to the Maroon Lake parking area.

hiking
3 days ago

This is a hike with awesome beauty. The trail was wet most of the way, but not enough to make mud that you sink into. I would recommend hiking boots and sticks as it is quite rocky. There were a few patches of snow as we got closer to Crater Lake, but they were relatively easy to walk over.

hiking
5 days ago

This is my favorite Colorado Trail by far. Just challenging enough with great views. Sadly, avalanche damage has strewn trees like matchsticks across the landscape and into the lakes. The scenic loop around Maroon Lake is closed due to avalanche damage and snow melt flooding. It was still easy to maneuver the downed trees and stay on or find the trail all the way to Crater Lake. We fished along the way and saw a badger from a distance running among a rock slide area. As of 2 days ago, there was still some snow during the last 1/4 mile of the hike. Great trail.

hiking
6 days ago

Sunrise at the Bells is magical. Then hike up to Crater. On your way back down expect crowds on their way up.

hiking
6 days ago

Amazing hike on June 19, 2019. Weather was perfect. The views are majestic. Moderate is a good rating - the hike was crowded, and even my 77 yr old mother in town from the east coast was able to make it by taking it slowly. Some snow on trail toward top but manageable. Some avalanche debris on trail toward top. This hike is a ‘must-do’!

hiking
9 days ago

It was beautiful, clean, easy to follow, not as many people as you’d expect and I felt like I was in Alaska at the end

hiking
blowdown
rocky
snow
10 days ago

So we hiked up to Crater Lake on Father’s day 2019. Another iconic Colorado scene, with the Maroon Bells as the back drop. It’s a relatively easy hike for the most part. One little stretch that climbs a bit, but nothing that tough. There wasn’t a ton of people on the trail either which was nice. Just a few snow drifts to walk across and a couple of avalanche debris fields to navigate thru, but again, easy enough. Crater Lake will have a different look for several years to come after last winter. There was what looked like 2 avalanches from opposite sides that met each other at the lake, and have deposited a solid raft of snow and snapped off trees going all the way across the whole lake. The amount of dead trees that will wind up in the lake when the snow melts, will number many. Still a beautiful area to be standing at regardless, but just an incredible Mother Nature scene. We also drove in before 8 a.m. as that is allowed. You must take the bus system after 8. You can also drive up after 5 p.m. The entry station also took our National Parks pass, so that saved us the $10.00 entry fee. We logged about 4.75 miles total, but we walked around the west side of the lake a bit while we were there. The actual hike is only about 3.8 total. We wanted to go further up the trail that follows West Maroon Creek, but the creek draining the Minnehaha Gulch was running pretty good, and there was no real safe place to cross. Not much further up you would run into total snow cover though. So back we went after hanging out and enjoying the view for a while longer. We saw several kids up there of all ages, so this is an easy enough trail for all. Amazing to be standing at the lake which sits at 10,000 feet, looking up at the Bells that are 4,000 feet higher!! I’ll be back some fall, lots of Aspens.

hiking
15 days ago

Beautiful trail. Maybe 10% snow covered but nothing more than hiking shoes with good traction necessary. About 1/2 from the lake, there is an avalanche debris field covering the trail for about a length of 1/4 mile. You need to look about 50 yards to your right to find the trail again after that.

16 days ago

Went Sunday June 9th, trail was snow covered in areas, and avalanches have wiped through a few spots on the trail. Definitely worth the hike.

hiking
off trail
snow
16 days ago

Trail was well marked except in areas of snow (found about 2/3 of the way up the trail) Accidentally went off trail a couple times because I was following others footsteps in the snow. Saw a porcupine on the trail and three deer!! Such dramatic and beautiful views of the peaks and avalanche zones.

hiking
muddy
snow
18 days ago

I went in the afternoon so the trail was really muddy and the snow was mushy in spots. I wore my microspikes during the snowy parts and was still slipping. Most people were only wearing tennis shoes/hiking boots and there were plenty of little kids with their families. Don’t let the snow discourage you. The view at the lake is beautiful. The lake is only half frozen now.

hiking
18 days ago

Beautifully scenic hike, there are views pretty much the entire way up. Crater Lake's water level was a little low, but it didn't matter it was still beautiful. I just heard people complaining on the way back that the lack of water was a disappointment for them (This was in September). Wear sturdy shoes as some areas of the trail is walking around/through big rocks and boulders, could be a risk for rolling an ankle. We hiked up, ate lunch next to the lake, and headed back. There were always people around but it was not so crowded it was unbearable. Once at the lake everyone continues on/ spreads out so it feels secluded and nice.

hiking
muddy
snow
20 days ago

21 days ago

what a great hike. crowds were fairly low. like others have said, lake is frozen and you have snow half the way. it isnt too slick not dangerous but I stepped through many times up to my knees. I am 200lbs and went midday so it was definitely softening. worth it though for sure.

hiking
24 days ago

Snowpack about 1/2 way up. A couple posts here and there. A bit slushy on the way down in the afternoon.

hiking
snow
24 days ago

Half way in you will step on the snow. Many people wore sneakers but I would recommend bring the microsoikes so you can hike faster. The Crater lake was still frozen and we hiked around the lake for a short loop. Lots of debris carried down by avalanche. expect to step on those debris. The view in the beginning of the trail is a must have Instagram picture.

25 days ago

We hit some super slick snow about 2 miles up and had to turn back. A bit upsetting because the Scenic Route around the lower lake was also off limits for "revegitation".

hiking
rocky
snow
25 days ago

Visited here on May, 30th 2019. Trail gets loaded with snow about half of the way towards Crater Lake. Snow is still pretty stable and I only punched through a couple of times. Low elevation gain and a short hike offers some incredible views. Crater Lake is still frozen over and it’s hard to locate the trail around the lake but you are able to walk on top of the lake pretty freely to get some unique views you wouldn’t get later in the season. Avalanche danger is pretty low the whole way up as most of the paths have already slid. I’d be advised if you walk past Crater Lake as it looks like snow on The Bells can still slide.

hiking
muddy
snow
28 days ago

It was snowing pretty heavy about halfway up but was a great trail. Noticed where quite a few avalanches had occurred.

snow
1 month ago

Completed the trail this morning. Rangers had put up signs about avalanches and they weren't kidding. We heard two avalanches break off on the other side of where Crater Lake is located. The snow that was falling actually looked like a waterfall and was really cool. But please be aware of your surroundings and always caution on the safe side. Needless to say, it was a great hike and the views were amazing. I recommend taking trekking poles if you can because there is a lot of snow on the trail and it gets slick as the day warms up.

hiking
1 month ago

Trail is very accessible despite snow. Just completed the hike in tennis shoes. Lake is pretty much covered in snow, still worth the hike. Enjoy. -Mersed

hiking
rocky
snow
1 month ago

Trail was very fun! I'd highly recommend taking trekking poles to help navigate the deep snowpack on the back 1/2 of the trail. Amazing unobstructed views of maroon bells once you reach Crater lake.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

This trail officially opened 5/24/2019 and we were the first people through it and created a trail through the snowy part. About half way up the trail it starts getting very snow packed so wear long pants and waterproof hiking shoes/boots. Snowshoes would be helpful but not required. Some areas you'll fall over knee deep in snow but it's fun and absolutely gorgeous!

snow
washed out
1 month ago

Trail is under about 3 feet of snow once you pass the scenic loop trail, which is closed. Travel without snowshoes is not advised. Did not continue on West Maroon due to constant avalanches (which we watched enthusiastically). Amazing hike.

6 months ago

Beautiful hike! Easy! Great views!!!

hiking
7 months ago

Excellent trail that is to be experienced in the fall. We were a couple weeks late to do this. However, the snow in the path made it a bit difficult to traverse. Took us 3 hours from car to car including the breaks and photography. Would highly recommend this trail during the fall season.

hiking
7 months ago

We went off season which was October 26th. At this time there is no having to use the shuttle to get up. You need to pay at the entry of the park which is $10 per car. We went about 930a and now issues finding parking. When we got done with the hike around 1p the parking lot was pretty full. We wanted to do an easy hike as my friend just flew in the day before from Minnesota. We were planning to do the easy trail called Maroon Bells scenic trail. This was closed so other only option from that trail was Crater Lake. This was a little more challenging then we were expecting. But it was a great. Lots of rocks and boulders to climb over. There was some areas with snow and ice but not too bad. But all worth as once we got the lake it was huge (though the water was low). Enough room to go by ourselves to have a snack without being next to anyone. Would come back to do this in another season to see all the aspens.

Did this trail when the scenic loop was closed. It was steep until the end and snowy and rocky in spots. But for those of us in our party who made it, it’s was great. The lake was not very full, but the scenery was great and the local birds are friendly! For the part of our party who couldn’t make it to the top there was an opening with a amazing Mountain View about .75 miles in. A great place to call good enough if u have to.

hiking
8 months ago

At points it feels like endless scrambling through small, loose rocks. We joked that it was like hiking on the moon! Still a fun trail with pretty views at the end (although the views would be better if there was water in the lake!).

8 months ago

Beautiful views! Went in early October and it was freezing. There was snow and ice on the trail which made it a little more difficult. In the end if you aren’t a master hiker, taking rest stops along the way to take in the sceneries will get you through it.

8 months ago

Beautiful foliage! Definitely recommend the trail to crater Lake. I hiked with two dogs by myself and do not recommend hiking this narrow trail with two dogs. It was rainy, muddy, and slippery. At crater lake it was sleeting and cold. The lake was not dry as the post from last week said although it was cloudy and views of the mountains were not good..

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