Crater Lake Trail

MODERATE 359 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
688 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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.

1 day ago

Fantastic vista views on this hike. There is still snow on upper half of the trail. Good shoes are helpful. Bring your trek poles if you have them.

hiking
2 days ago

Great hike. A bit icy in places above 10k fasl, but with sensible hiking shoes quite manageable.

1 month ago

One of my favorite hikes ❤️❤️

hiking
3 months ago

I walk every day with my dog around local parks at home in Ohio. This was what I would call my first true hiking experience. It was a little difficult maneuvering through the rocks, and my family and I had only brought tennis shoes. However the difficulty was all worth it! Every step of the way you could turn in any direction and the views would take your breath away! There was one scary area with a very steep drop off of all rocks, I just tried to keep my eyes on the other side. The pay off at the end was a gorgeous peaceful lake. We went on a cool, foggy morning, but I honestly can’t imagine it being any more beautiful than it was. Be sure and go early so you can drive and park your car right at the park, and take some stunning pictures of Maroon Bells Lake and mountains before you begin.

5 months ago

This trail was difficult because of all the rocks and it gets very slippery. A man in a group ahead of us slipped and fell and lost his life so I can't urge you enough to use caution on this trail as it is dangerous and doesn't take much to get hurt. It does get extremely crowded so start out before 8am if you can. Once you reach the lake it is very peaceful and beautiful. Just hiked yesterday but the lake was very low.

5 months ago

Road closed not due to snow. It is blocked with pile of dirt.

6 months ago

Spikes were helpful second half of the trail. Had the lake to ourself early on a Saturday morning. Beautiful views!

hiking
6 months ago

Did this hike two days ago and about half a mile in it was muddy, icy and snow packed. We brought micro-spikes just in case, and they were a HUGE help. Literally within five-ten minutes of getting to the portion of the trail with ice we saw three people take spills and what looked like one kid injured coming back down. Don't do this trail with the expectation of just being able to wear casual shoes this time of year.

Other than that, trail was absolutely gorgeous with snow still on some trees and surrounding the trail. One of the most beautiful hikes I've ever done. And of course Maroon Bells. Not sure how the trail would be now with the recent storm blowing through. I'm sure just as beautiful.

Enjoy yourself.

hiking
6 months ago

Good hike, a bit crowded. At the beginning all muddy but then snow covered, good view. Very easy fun hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful hike but pretty crowded when we went . People on the trail everywhere . Trail was icy at some points . Lots of rocks . Not too steep though as many options for trails depending on how far you want to hike . Dog friendly !

hiking
7 months ago

Awesome hike, did this one back in August when it was a bit warmer, but overall nice hike. If you want to see a awesome video of Aspen and Crater Lake trail check out my video I did for it.
https://youtu.be/LtYAqh5ghfo

7 months ago

fun

hiking
7 months ago

We did this trail on a 30-35 degree day in October when it was very cloudy and snowing. It wasn't crowded at all. The Aspen trees were gorgeous the whole hike. The views on the hike are beautiful the whole way. Crater Lake and the surrounding peaks were worth it. Fall has to be the best time to go... snow mixed with fall colors...

7 months ago

There is no hike involved to see the iconic views of the Maroon Bells from Maroon Lake, but if you want to get in a "real" hike in the area, this is it! The trail gets very rocky about halfway through and was somewhat muddy in spots when we visited on 10/8/2017. Fall foliage was past peak colors and the closer you get to Crater Lake, the more the leaves are completely gone. Trail is moderately difficult, and that's coming from someone who lives in Denver and is physically active. Lots of kids and people on trail. In my opinion, this trail was not worth it due to all the people on this narrow trail and the views at Maroon Lake are relatively better.

7 months ago

Gorgeous around Maroon Bells

7 months ago

great trail, the leaves were in their last bit of glory and most near crater lake were gone or turning fast.

7 months ago

Beautiful hike with breathtaking views of the fall colors. Pretty busy, but not overly so. I'd say it was more on the easy side, but hikers from sea level really seemed to struggle with the elevation. Bring lots of water!

7 months ago

Arrived at Aspen Highlands at 0715 on a Saturday but the parking lot at the trailhead was already full. The traffic director said it filled up back around 0530.... but since we got there before 8 we didn't end up having to pay to park. The people arriving after 8 had to pay $10. We paid $8 per person for a bus ticket and arrived at the trailhead about 30 mins later. Very crowded but still worth it! Best hike so far!

hiking
7 months ago

Just beautiful. Rocky trail, but was fine for our kids ages 7, 10, and 13. Definitely lots of people and pets. Go early for less crowds.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful day and trail. Heavily trafficed. Mix of hikers and tourists in sneakers and everyone was very friendly. Good amount of dogs and several Rangers, keep those dogs on a leash.....Rangers are looking for you and giving tickets.

Great intermediate trail but try to get there early if you can. Place gets super busy and if I were to do it again I would try to get there around 6am (think RMNP busy). We went on a Friday around 7am and the lots were already full along with cars parked about 1/4 mile down the road. $10 to get in (cash or check only) or you can use your national park pass which is great, shuttle starts at 8am when it gets busier. We were lucky that some people had left the main lot so we got to park in there. Views were gorgeous, trail is a little slick from all the snow/rain and leaves so be cautious. Even with how busy it was the views were worth it!

7 months ago

Fantastic day hike. Started to get a little crowded around 10 a.m. Recommend starting early morning. Very tranquil area.

7 months ago

Hiked on 9/23/2017 when the leafs are gorgeously golden. It was beautiful everywhere you look!

hiking
7 months ago

The path is rocky (which you'd only care about if you tend to have ankle issues) but not steep and the colors are gorgeous right now. it's well worth the trip to crater lake. Colors are probably going to be visible at least another week (lots of green still)

hiking
8 months ago

Best birthday hike yet!

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike! Did it with husband and toddler son on our back. Would say moderate is the correct level. Steeper 1st half then levels off more toward the lake. A lot of people so start earlier but great views and a very nice hike.

8 months ago

Beautiful scenery but extremely crowded. There are better hikes in the surrounding area.

8 months ago

well worth the hike. Earlier the better.

hiking
8 months ago

GO EARLY

8 months ago

The bells are cool but, this lake is lame. It reminds me of the mud and slit lake in The Lion King that is drying up and all the animals are becoming sluggish and sad. Definitely not worth your time unless you do plan to hike to Maroon Peak or Buckskin Pass. The view from the Maroon Lake is excellent but Crater not so much.

Also, if you go after 8am then you are suppose to pay $5 on weekdays or $10 on weekends to park your car and then $8 per person to ride the shuttle to the lake. It's a real con-job 1) b/c there was ample open parking on a late August weekday 2) the money goes to private business not the forest service. If I went again I'd drive past the restricted road usage sign and pay my fee for parking to the forest service.

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