Ptarmigan Lake Trail [CLOSED]

MODERATE 108 reviews
#81 of 114 trails in

Ptarmigan Lake Trail [CLOSED] is a 5.9 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.

5.9 miles
1,466 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly






horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running





wild flowers



Road leading to the trail is closed 2.4 miles before the trailhead.

2 months ago

Very nice but a bit busy, the hike itself it’s not a piece of cake but it’s not crazy hard either, you have to consider that it’s a steep hike up, just take your time.
We saw solo hikers, families, definitively dog friendly.
Took us about 1 hour and 40 min to go up, gorgeous views, we stop by the waterfall to have some lunch and then continue our way down the loop. About one hour down for us.
Totally worth it !

3 months ago

GREAT hike. Trail marked well. What makes hiking worth it: getting to top, all to feel so small in this HUGE world.

3 months ago

Did this trail on 6/13/18 tool my wife and I around 1 hr and 50 minutes to get to the top and another hour to get back down. I would say the difficulty is accurate. This has been one of our favorite hikes, the scenery is beautiful with a good payoff. We met a few groups of people along the way and a little bit of snow towards the top but nothing extreme. I recommend having some lunch and coffee overlooking the lakes.

3 months ago

This was a beautiful trail. It was a little bit challenging coming from Florida. I mapped 6.2 miles in 2 hours 40 minutes. The view of the lakes was incredible. I would definitely do this again and bring lunch and eat it overlooking the lake.

3 months ago

Definitely marshy and snowy in parts, I found myself losing the trail a couple of times on the way down. But beautiful hike as a whole - I’ll be returning with my camera soon!

3 months ago

Great hike for a moderate trail. Quite a few large sections of snow on parts of the trail in the upper half. Lost trail a couple of times. Trail also muddy in spots from melting snow. These issues created more of a workout. But it's all about the adventure - great hike with fantastic photo opportunities.

3 months ago

Fantastic hike with gorgeous views. Worth it to climb the last stretch to Ptarmigan above the lower lakes. The road from Buena is open. Cottonwood Pass is closed. Still snow on the trail- a little postholing is required.

3 months ago

Great hike, we spent two nights up at the lower lake. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring snow shoes so we didn’t get up to ptarmigan. There was a few day hikers, fishermen and on our second night three other small groups of backpackers. We’ll be back in late summer/early fall.

4 months ago

So I attempted this as if I were not a native of CO. Surely others were shaking their heads. You need waterproof hiking footwear!

Can't wait to go back with hiking boots and poles!


trail running
6 months ago

Didn’t actually make it up! The east access road is currently closed off to traffic. Didn’t know how to update that without a review! I’m sure it’s a splendid running trail though!

10 months ago

Cottonwood pass is currently open to the trailhead as of 11/18. There’s a LOT of snow on the pass and the trail. You would need 4WD and high clearance. No one else was on the trail though! Really nice hike with great views of surrounding 14ers. Lost the trail about 3/4 of the way up due to snow and down trees.

10 months ago

Went with a big group with ranging hiking skill levels. Everyone had such a blast - it was a very gradual incline that I'd consider easy. There's some snow on the ground, so be careful. Great views of some lakes surrounded by 14ers.

11 months ago

Loved this hike!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Great trail. Good for a quick easy backpacking trip.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Absolutely love this trail! Beautiful views pretty much everywhere. Aspens and bushes are changing colors. Keep going past that first lake to Ptarmigan lake at the top.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The road west of the trail is closed, but access to the east from BV is open. Plenty of parking on the road near the trailhead, even though we got there relatively late in the day. Pretty much the definition of a moderate hike. The trail wasn't heavily populated. Views up top were incredible...14ers everywhere you look, mountain lakes, you name it.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

my dogs loved this trail. beautiful.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

I am a bit out of shape, so the trail was a bit challenging for me. I'm so glad I completed it. The views were so worth the work!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Great hike in beautiful area. Mountain lakes are so nice and this is a steady easy climb. Do not miss turn at lower lake.....bear right after lower lake that is on the right...several were searching for trail to upper lake...Ptarmigan.

Monday, August 28, 2017

This is a great hike with easy elevation. I had it measured as 6.2 miles. My wife and I never felt challenged enjoyed a nice steady pace.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Such a great hike! Beautiful views, gradual climb making it doable to many! Get an early start to avoid the crowds and storms.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Awesome hike! Loved everything about this hike! The trail was great and easy to follow. The views are spectacular. The lake is large, beautiful, and full of fish! We started early so we saw no one until up at the lake. On our return we ran into numerous hikers! Trailhead parking lot is small so many park out by the road! Highly recommend this hike! The wild flowers were spectacular!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Great hike with a spectacular amphitheater at the end. Pretty easy, even for a couple of 70+

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rewarding hike. I'm not used to the altitude so I barely made it. All others in our group of 10 made it without difficulty.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Great trail! Gentle, steady climb to the lake. Ran into some spotty weather with hail on the descent. Lots of fish in the lower lake. I wasn't able to fish at Ptarmigan lake due to exposure and the questionable clouds moving in. Surprising amount of people on the trail for a weekday.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Very challenging, rocky hike for me but loved every minute. Very pretty wildflowers here and there. Everyone was super friendly; loved seeing the many happy dogs charging up the trail

Monday, July 17, 2017

Great time of year to see the wildflowers:) Nice day hike. Only negative was there were a lot of people on the trail with dogs and only one or two others (besides us) had them on leashes.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

This was a wonderful trail that we did up and back in about 3 hours - beautiful scenery, not very challenging, but OH the bugs! I would HIGHLY recommend mosquito repellant! Flowers are almost at their peak bloom - will probably be beautiful within the next week. Definitely a trail I'd come back to

Friday, July 14, 2017

I loved it! I caught 30 of the most brilliantly colored Rainbow Trout (fly & fly on bobber) between an evening and the next morning (I stayed overnight).
The trail is easy enough for cross trainers or a light trail shoe if you have strong ankles, but plan for wet feet if you want to explore around the lake due to snow-melt from nearly every side. I wore Tevas (sandals) in/around the lake and 3 miles back down the trail and actually liked that better than slogging around in wet shoes and socks. Bug repellent is definitely a good idea near the lake

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Very nice walk to Ptarmigan Lake. Trail climbs pretty gently and continuously.

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