Crater Lakes Trail via Moffat Tunnel East Portal Trailhead [CLOSED]

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Roosevelt National Forest

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: 1,804 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

over grown

rocky

scramble

snow

closed

Please note that this trail is currently closed due to COVID 19. 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 accessible. 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.

Lots of water on the trail. Some post holing on the way up. Easy to lose the trail due to the snow and multiple boot tracks. When I got below the twin lakes post holing was more prevalent. I took the right side up to the top lake and the creek was wild. I did not follow the track as it was snowed over. Bushwhacked all the way up to the large boulder that overlooks the upper lake. Basically slid directly down from there to lower lakes and lost track below there due to multiple boot tracks and snow. A tough hike in those conditions. Still my favorite place

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
24 days ago

Did this hike today with poles and microspikes. Would definitely recommend using snowshoes until the snow melts more as after the junction, the snow got very deep making hiking VERY difficult. The only reason we didn't turn around was because we were determined to make it and had all day to spare and had extra socks. I would also recommend relying on this map as the trail was difficult to navigate after the junction due to the snow. We created our own route for most of it. We made it to the Lower Crater Lakes but due to postholing, we were happy with our destination.

hiking
25 days ago

Is this trail open??

This trail is now residents only. Which means I had the entire trail and parking lot to myself today. It was wonderful and didn’t see a soul! Only used spikes the entire way up.

hiking
1 month ago

Five stars for the trail still but today at around 9:30 there was a Sheriffs car blocking the road. Unless you live in the area you’re not allowed to pass through..

hiking
snow
2 months ago

need snowshoes or traction

hiking
2 months ago

Got to the trailhead at 8:30 and it was already pretty full. by the time we got back to the car, there were cars parked a good 1/4+ mile down the road. Tons of spinners today. No wind at the top. Flotation was a must above the jct. We had to break trail starting at the jct, for a good ways, but eventually joined up with a ski track the rest of the way to the lower lakes. We didn't go up to the top lake. It was a hard day, but a beautiful and very satisfying one.

hiking
snow
2 months ago

snowshoes would have made this much more doable

Great snowshoeing trail. Not too steep but a good workout. Trail was fairly well packed down, but appreciated the All Trails app to keep us on track.

This is a wildly popular trailhead for backcountry skiers. We chose the Crater Lakes, since most people appeared to be veering off toward the Forest Lakes or were aiming to travel the entire way up the pass. The alltrails map is accurate—trust it. There were lots of side trails where people got lost or tried to cut off corners (which is a none-issue in summer). The trail was literally untouched for the last half-mile to the lakes, so the snowshoeing was deep and we were entirely reliant on gps. We did notice a few trees on the way down with a blue spray painted dot, so it might help to look for those to keep on track. It felt impossible in such windy and deep snow conditions to travel up to the third lake, but I encourage you to try! The best views are looking back down on the two side-by-side lakes.

hiking
snow
4 months ago

This is one of my favorite winter hikes in Colorado! I used Yak Trax for pretty much the whole hike (trail is very packed down) except the last 100 yards to the lake (I kept snowshoes tied to my pack) - then the snowshoes came in really handy. Steep uphill the last mile to the lake. Great parking and port-o-potty at the trailhead. Pack it out - no trashcans.

hiking
snow
5 months ago

Super nice out today with a little wind. Microspikes and/or snowshoes highly recommended as snow is pretty packed down for a majority of the trail, which is still pretty easy to follow. The last .10 of a mile between the 2 lakes gets about knee deep but there is a trail that veers off before that going directly to the left lake. You can walk across that lake and cut to the right to get to the other lake. Snow was about 3+ feet deep trying to continue to the upper lake so we turned back, especially after watching a skier trying to come down barely making progress. Be safe out there and enjoy!

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
6 months ago

Gorgeous hike! Went on Tuesday 11.19.19 at 10 a.m. and saw one person during the three hour hike. Microspikes are a must! The snow packed trail was pretty easy to follow, with the exception of the last .10 mile, where the snow was considerably deeper. Some icy sections but not as bad as expected. Last mile gets the heart pumping! Enjoy!

hiking
icy
rocky
snow
6 months ago

Great views up at the lakes! It’s really icy 95% of the way up right now so crampons or some type of spikes are highly recommended.

Awesome trail...we took our snowshoes based on the reports for. A few days earlier. It does get slushee at the bottom Microspikes to the lower lakes and snowshoes to the upper lakes. Take a map because if u see my trail it was all over the place.

Beautiful trail. Would recommend microspikes as some parts are icy. Also recommend poles for the way down as it got slippery when the Sun came out. Didn’t make it to the upper lake as we kept post-holing on the way to that part of the trail.

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