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

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.

11 days ago

Beautiful hike! Easy! Great views!!!

hiking
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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!).

2 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.

2 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..

hiking
2 months ago

Maroon Bells is absolutely breathtaking with the aspen tree fall foliage. This was definitely a moderate hike, it was steep most the way up and very rocky. I recommend good hiking shoes with grip due too many loose and slippery rocks. I had to stop and take a quick breather about 3-4 times on the way up, however, I’m from sea level and have only been in Colorado for 2 months. Took just over an hour out and maybe 30 minutes back. Overall a good hike minus the heavy traffic on a narrow trail along with multiple people blasting music on their cell speakers along the way. If it’s solitude you’re looking for you won’t find it here. Just gorgeous scenery.

2 months ago

It is stunning scenic trail with the foliage. The lake is empty now but the scene does not disappoint

2 months ago

August 2009. Amazing beautiful trail

hiking
2 months ago

Definitely recommend continuing the hike beyond Maroon Lake for additional sights. It is a rocky trail with some steeper inclines, and, I will admit, at one point I did get turned around on the trail. The trail is more heavily trafficked once the shuttles start dropping people off at 8:00AM. Even though Crater Lake was dry when I went, the autumn colors were fantastic!

camping
2 months ago

It is difficult getting up there and easy coming back. The Lake is dry currently.

2 months ago

Nice easy hike up to Crater Lake. The lake is dry but amazing colors of the Aspens all the way up.

hiking
2 months ago

I did this hike a week ago with my friend and our two dogs, a Lab and a Sheppard. We got started shortly after the sun came upon the Bells, mostly to start the hike before the trail got too crowded (it was a Monday) it was so beautiful with most of the aspens in full color. Our dogs did fine on the terrain and yes, some parts were very rocky but wasn’t an issue for any of us. We got to Crater Lake which we knew was dry, but it was a nice spot to sit for a bit and have some snacks before heading back. We encountered ALOT more people coming up the trail, especially as we were almost at the end. Good move on our part to start early. Would have given 5 stars if the lake wasn’t dry

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful! Definitely a heavily trafficked trail. While there was no water in the lake, we knew that ahead of time. The trees are GORGEOUS right now. Moderate is a very accurate description for this trail. We plan to do this trail again after it opens next year!

2 months ago

At 530am, I was stopped by the rangers and told that the overnight parking was full. They directed me to park at Aspen Highlands. On Saturday and Sunday, parking at Aspen Highlands Parking lot is: 0-3 hours $10, 3-8 hours $15, 8+hours $25.

Long line to buy bus tickets to trailhead. Would recommend buying them the night before to skip the ticket line. I did see some call the local taxi because they didn’t want to wait until 7am for the ticket office to open. I called the taxi service and was told they were completely booked until 7am. There is also another line for the buses.

The Aspens are a gorgeous mixture of green, yellow, and orange right now! Crater Lake is completely dry and you can walk around where it would be filled. As soon as the sun comes out, the temp rises. Dress in layers. It was 35 degrees at 5am and warmed up to 72 degrees by 10am.

I hiked with my husky. It’s rocky, but not harsh enough for little dog booties for a medium or large dog. After reading a few reviews mentioning the harsh terrain, I got booties for my dog. I took them off her after 0.5 mile. Not necessary unless you have a small dog. Most small dogs were carried.

hiking
2 months ago

Colors were great.

hiking
2 months ago

I hate this hike. It’s all up hill, on lose rocks, FULL OF PEOPLE, you have to pay $8 just to get there, and the lake is more like a dried up small bog. Next!

2 months ago

Gorgeous day today. This trail is as amazing but it is extremely rocky. The leaves could not have been more splendid. Highly recommend this hike.

2 months ago

Wonderful hike mostly shaded by the aspens. This is a perfect time to capture the colors of fall! Rocky the last quarter. Crater Lake is dry, but the location offers a spectacular view of the Maroon Bells and the glorious, brilliant aspens.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice views of maroon bells. It is a steady up, and trail is rocky pretty much the whole way, but beautiful fall colors against the ‘maroon’ colored mountains. It does have a lot of people traffic

2 months ago

Beautiful views of the Maroon Bells.

2 months ago

Lovely hike up. Weather perfect. Lake dry but colours in full swing

hiking
2 months ago

Great views of the aspens and scree throughout this short and sweet hike. The lake at the end is very dry, but it’s a fun new view of the Bells. Given that this is the only hike greater than a mile but less than 20 miles at the Bells, it’s worth doing.

2 months ago

Beautiful colors throughout the hike up and back. We had a warm sunny day, Crater lake is a little dried up but the views with the Aspen color changes were worth the hike up.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful trail, scenery changes with the weather as it opens up expansive views of the glaciers.

hiking
3 months ago

Gorgeous views. Look for the Pika in the boulder field. The would make a cry when we walked by that we originally thought was a bird until we start spotting the little guys.

hiking
3 months ago

Great views, though the lake was pretty empty. Fairly easy hike. Heard there was a moose at the lower lake right by the trail head. I hike with my pup so we avoided that. Hung out at the lake for a while and headed back down. It was a pretty easy in and out. A good chunk is in the sun though, so be prepared with sunscreen or a hat! Bus system was also not bad at all. Didn’t have to wait more than 5 mins at either end.

3 months ago

Great Views. Only complaint was that it was very rocky so it was challenging for the dogs at times.

hiking
3 months ago

Rocky but moderate hike. Summer 2018 Crater Lake is more like a pond but we burned the calories so we could eat more great food in Aspen.

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