Ptarmigan Lake Trail

MODERATE 50 reviews
#1 of 2 trails in

Ptarmigan Lake Trail is a 6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Nathrop, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1545 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

fly fishing

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

snow

Directions from Buena Vista: Travel approximately 12.5 miles west on Cottonwood Pass Road (Highway 306) to the trailhead on the southern side of the road.

3 days ago

Love the hike. Still too much snow to make it all the way through if your alone as I was. I didn't mind the snow since I got hot on the way up, I used a little to cool off with.

hiking
10 days ago

There is still lots of snow as of June 13th on the upper part of the trail. At about a half mile before the lake it was impossible to clearly see the way and easy to lose the trail. Other than not reaching the lake it was a nice hike and we will be back later this summer to finish it. I would not recommend the upper part of the trail until more snow melts, unless you know the route very well and don't mind slogging through some (still) fairly deep snow.

hiking
22 days ago

Cottonwood Pass (County Rd/Hwy 306) is closed for the entire 2017 summer season on the west (Gunnison County) side, as well as most of 2018 on the east (Chaffee County) side, while the road undergoes widening and paving. For more information, call Gunnison County Public Works at 970-641-0044.

26 days ago

Road still closed 2.4 miles before the trail head. Turned around and hiked another spot.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. As of 5/5/17 there is still significant snow pack, 5 feet in some places, and lake is still iced over. Snow shoes highly recommend if you do it any time soon.

hiking
1 month ago

Road leading to the trial is closed 2.4 miles before the trailhead. Unsure of conditions of trail as we did not proceed past the road closure.

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

We hiked this trail in September and it was spectacular. Light to moderate exertion, definitely pack a lunch. Once you make it to the lower lake, press on toward Lake Ptarmigan upper lake. If you leave early enough in the day, you can extend on around the lake to the summit, which I believe is labeled Jones mountain.

hiking
2 months ago

the street is closed 2.4 mi before the trailhead, and the trail is so full of snow that it was 100% invisible and unwalkable :(

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing hike. Moderate is probably the best rating. A steady elevation gain, but if I can make it up than anyone can. Bring plenty of water and definitely go to the top of the trail to the big lake. It was very windy the day I went, but worth it. The last few switch backs were killer, but so worth it. I highly recommend this hike!

4 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful hike, just make sure to keep going past the first lake. Having driven from Texas with only a day of acclimation, we completed the hike with relative ease. Stunning views and great landscape. Highly recommended.

6 months ago

Gorgeous place! Overnighted with a few friends by the lower lake. Climbed up to the saddle above ptarmigan but felt like making it to the top of Jones would be too risky with the amount of snow.

hiking
9 months ago

some ppl stop when they get to the first 2 ponds not knowing anything is beyond but keep going another half mile up the mountain to the big lake! so many ppl dont go all the way and they miss out.

hiking
9 months ago

When you get to the trailhead, make sure you take the right path. There is a trailhead sign with a trail departing from behind the restroom area, but even though the trail is marked, it's not the right one. I spent two hours navigating it before it ended, and so did four other people I met on the trail. The actual trailhead is on the south side of the parking lot. You won't notice it if cars are parked there. Luckily I got an early start, so I did the real trail after messing around on the wrong one. Beautiful views! Windy on top. Bring extra layers.

10 months ago

10 months ago

Had a good family hike up to the top lake. We took our kids (4 and 2). The hike was steady but not too hard for a 4 year old to complete. GPS measured the entire hike at 7.6 miles and took us 5 hours. There was a good place to stop and eat a picnic with a great view. The trail is good for all levels, ages and dogs.

hiking
10 months ago

great, easy hike. amazing views, and the lake is beautiful. also, I HIGHLY recommend climbing Jones mountain (13,200 ft) right next to the lake. it's very difficult, and takes close to an hour to peak, but the view is way worth it.

hiking
10 months ago

Enjoyed this trail but pretty busy on 4th of July weekend. Great views and the trail was a steady but doable climb to the lake. Be prepared for no one having their dog on leash. Too many morons just can't follow the rules and think they're dog will obey their commands but all they do is bee-line towards our leashed dog without thinking twice. We finally gave up and took our dog off leash to give her a fighting chance. Some guys fishing at the lake let their dog run over to ours and never even tried calling it back. People always ruin it! Otherwise, great day.

10 months ago

Good hike. Nice workout! No bug problems.