Crater Lakes Trail via Moffat Tunnel East Portal Trailhead

HARD 295 reviews
#2 of 107 trails in

Crater Lakes Trail via Moffat Tunnel East Portal Trailhead is a 6.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nederland, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1804 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

trail running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

snow

Forest trail with mountain views leading to alpine lakes This trail takes you into the James Peak wilderness. The first part is an old jeep trail that will take you up to WP22, from there a new trail heads up to crater lakes. This trail fades in a couple places since it is not well defined yet, but push on and you will find it again. Look for cairns in the rocky areas to continue trail. Middle Lakes are easily accessable. Continue between the middle lakes staying on path that runs along the left side of the lake on the right. Upper Lakes take more effort and there is light scrambling. Continue past the lower lake and climb to the final lake at the base of Continental divide. Bring your fishing gear in the summer.

hiking
1 hour ago

Came to do the heart lake via Roger’s pass trail today 5/26/18 but there was too much snow and potholing. Turned back and did crater lake instead. A beautiful hike- we lost the trail, as did three other couples ahead of us who had turned back, but using GPS on our phones we were able to find the lake. Still mostly frozen but beautiful nonetheless. By the time we finished lunch by the lake more people had arrived and we followed their MUCH easier and more clear trail down. By this time much of the snow from our trek up had melted and the trail was basically a creek. A beautiful hike and we will be back again after the lake thaws.

hiking
18 days ago

definitely need spikes and snowshoes. made it up with spikes and post-holed all the way down. packed snow and pretty easy until the roger's pass/crater lake split where trail gets more difficult. arrived around 11:30 and finished before 3. lake is still frozen over, a good trail for wind protection for most of it is in the trees

26 days ago

Still a lot of snow. Glad I had both microspikes and snowshoes. Others were really struggling without.

snowshoeing
1 month ago

Snow is still falling up there as of today 4/21. Due to all of the fresh snow I wasn't able to keep to the trail itself, instead just cut my own way up all of the way to the lakes. Snowshoes are necessary until a defined trail is made again. Excellent ski snow today!

hiking
2 months ago

3/24/18 - Only made it to the lower lake but a beautiful hike! The forest of pines in the beginning is scenic and the view from the lake is awesome.

Wore only mircospikes and we post holes the last half mile - Would heavily recommend snow shoes.

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked 3/14. Made it all the way up with boots and poles. Poles were a must or at least spikes as it's steep and slippery. The last mile I was sinking in the snow quite a bit so I actually put snowshoes on to get back down to the river bottom. Awesome winter hike!

2 months ago

Lots of snow. Need microspikes and snowshoes. It is a great workout as it is steep.

hiking
2 months ago

Spikes were sufficient until about a mile before the lakes

hiking
3 months ago

Snowed all morning, but no wind. It was awesome. Most of the trail is good enough to walk on with hiking boots, snowshoes would have been extremely helpful, skis would have also been nice. I have neither snowshoes or skis so I didnt make it to the lakes, started post holing every step about 3/4 mile to the lakes so I turned back. Hey it was worth a shot.

hiking
3 months ago

Very windy day, which wasn't too bad in the forest. The snow was pretty firmly packed on the trail. I used hiking boots most of the way without a problem, then switched to spikes about a mile - mile and half from the lakes, and then snowshoes for the last stretch. Unfortunately, the wind made hanging out by the lakes pretty miserable, so the trip was cut pretty short. Still gorgeous, though. Lots of skiers!

hiking
3 months ago

Completed 1/14, made it all the way up to the first lake with yaktrax/hiking boots. Last mile was definitely slow-going. Beautiful day, no wind. The trail was pretty obvious to follow.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

Early morning hike. Surprisingly, the trail was well traveled and easily followed unlike other times. Once making the turn from Rollins Pass, snowshoes are a must. Always a great hike and take the time on some of the steep climbs.

***Get there early as the parking lot was 1/3 full at 8:30 and was full at 11:30. About 75% of people were skiers.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

Wife picked this trail on the way up, without telling me it was rated hard/difficult haha. Got there, and only after the first mile or so I asked what the rating was, since the inclines were no joke, especially using snowshoes with 2-4ft snow the entire way. Finally got to the lakes, much too windy to actually see them, but still an accomplishment to get there. The trek down was fast and a ton of fun though.

Note: The snowshoes were a must to make it all the way to the lakes; the trail was not very packed down for the last mile and you would post hole the whole way if just wearing boots!

snowshoeing
4 months ago

Made it to the lower lakes easily- the last push to upper crater lake was no joke with deep, soft snow and we turned around at about 10,800ft. Used spikes until the last mile up then switched to snow shoes for the rest. Perfect day with no wind!

snowshoeing
4 months ago

Windy but beautiful. The trails are perfect for snowshoeing. It isn't for beginners.

hiking
4 months ago

Don't let the lack of snow on the drive in fool you. We went up today 1/9/18. The first 1.6ish miles you can get away with microspikes, yax or even just boots honestly. But if you go up the actual crater lakes trail, it gets pretty deep & steep once it splits off from the Rogers Pass trail. We were confused because two people we passed said they made it to the lakes in just spikes/yax, but we never saw their tracks. The snowshoe tracks eventually went off trail and eventually just dead-ended at an overlook. So we cut our own trail and it may not have been the best route, but we eventually wound up at the southwest most lake and circled back to the land between the two lower ones. Sorry if anyone is scratching their heads when they follow our footsteps. But also, you're welcome for us breaking trail. ;) haha. Never saw any tracks near the lakes so I have no idea where those other people went. It was a beautiful view & pretty snow, but slow going and challenging for sure.

hiking
4 months ago

Lost keys on trail today - Nissan key. A bit snowy for just boots. Would’ve been better with snowshoes. If anyone finds them please give me a call. 7272496099

hiking
4 months ago

Excellent hike. BEAUTIFUL views at the lake. Well worth the elevation gain. In the snow, definitely falls into the hard category, but seems like a moderate hike in dry conditions. Lots of snow here today. Nothing fresh. Spikes were very helpful. Would highly recommend them. Lots of snowshoers, but didn’t find it necessary. One or two points where I would’ve preferred them, but overall don’t see them as necessary for the hike in current conditions. Lakes were totally frozen over. Walked across them. Would love to go back in the summer.

4 months ago

nice hike, moderate at best

hiking
6 months ago

A little delayed in posting. Enjoyed this hike on a crisp September day. All other hikers clearly planned for the weather better than we did - there were very few hikers and most were on their way down as we went up. There were a few small patches of September snow, and it naturally got chillier as we climbed. Thankfully, the rain didn’t begin till we saw the lakes. Despite a chilly rain the entire descent, this was one of my favorite (maybe favorite) hikes. The sounds of the forest and babbling brook brought such a sense of calm that it was easy to forget the actual challenge of the trail.

6 months ago

Just did this. There was snow but it was fun. Have done in summer too. Good times!

6 months ago

Just hiked this today. I am a novice, so this trail was very difficult, especially near the end. It was also somewhat windy, and on the hike back I thought I had gone down the wrong trail because two small trees had fallen across the path while I was at the top, and I didn’t remember stepping over them on the way up. It got icy in the final quarter mile or so, but man was it worth the time. Most of the snow has melted, but be careful going from one lake to the other at the top—you can get your boots wet sinking in the remaining snow if you’re not careful. I recommend this hike: the views are beautiful!

hiking
7 months ago

Very nice hike through woods with an occasional nice view and three lakes at the end. Currently very snowy throughout most of the hike, snow packed and icy in spots. We made it with just hiking boots but extra traction would have been nice. I would agree that most of the hike is on the moderate side except for the last half mile push to the top lake. Right now the trail leading up top lake (which is not the actual trail, just a few footprints that everyone else followed) is straight up and very snowy and slippery. It is worth the push and the views are spectacular. This trail can get very crowded during the summer but it was pretty quit on this snowy fall day. Great hike overall.

hiking
7 months ago

Huge parking lot. Pretty crowded early on, but once you get up near the lakes, it thins out. Beautiful views of the lakes. Also a very peaceful spot for contemplation.

hiking
7 months ago

Lots and lots of snow, but wouldn’t rate this trail as difficult. Moderate, at best. Great views at the top! Bundle up!

hiking
7 months ago

The trail was a good workout but I wouldn't rate it as hard/difficult as the site does. Although the distances traveled seem to be longer than the trail markers say, it's a beautiful hike through the forest and gorgeous views of the lakes at the top. Not too much snow right now, just a little tight as you're getting to the lower lakes. Definitely make your way toward the upper lake and take in the view of the two lower ones from above! (Hike done 10/19/17)

hiking
7 months ago

So this trail was super easy. i don't know how it was rated as difficult. pretty much a walk with some steeper walks. there was exposure on 0 sides. You can swim in the lakes though. it is cold

7 months ago

Icy on the way up, but spectacular views on the climb up to the upper lakes. I'll be back soon!

hiking
7 months ago

Relatively easy hike to the two lower lakes which are lackluster as lakes go. The hike to the upper lake was decently strenuous but kind of nice due to the fact there was no one up there. Overall, a nice day hike trail that wasn't as crowded as others so close to Boulder.....for now.

hiking
7 months ago

Really beautiful hike through aspens and evergreens up to some amazing lakes. The first part of the trek up is an easy incline and the last mile or so to the lower lakes was steeper with more switchbacks to climb up. The lower lakes were awesome. The trek to get to the upper lake was by far the most strenuous with very steep way up and the snow was deepest up there at least at this time of year... probably more worth it when there is less snow to go through.

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