Ptarmigan Lake Trail is a 6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nathrop, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and bird watching and is best used from March until October.

Length6.0 miElevation gain1,469 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingBird watchingRunningLakeViewsWildflowersSnowNo shade
Description
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

Please note the road leading up to the trail has been closed in the past. Please check current road conditions in teh Alerts and Notices section of the park page to ensure trail access. https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/psicc/alerts-notices

Colorado Tourism Office, 1625 Broadway, Suite 1700 , Denver, CO, 80202, Phone: 800-COLORADO

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. 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.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (416)
Photos (373)
Recordings (310)
Completed (772)
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Maria Cathleen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 28, 2020
HikingIcy

Did not hike this. The road coming from the Yale trailhead is closed for the winter. I’m not sure if this trail is accessible another way, but I could not get to it.

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David Kenney
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Hiking

Nice easy beautiful hike

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Dudley yeoman
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Hiking
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Lance Ulrich
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Hiking
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Brianna D
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 21, 2020
Hiking

Nice and quick moderate hike! Started on the trail right at 8am and was the only car in the lot/only person on the trail. First two miles are mainly tree covered and the top of the hike was very windy so bring layers and hats+gloves. Beautiful scenery and views!

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Ken Hall
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Hiking
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julian larrasquitu
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Hiking

great trail well kept

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Jon Hill
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Hiking

Great views, lakes and trail.

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Helena Keller
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Scenic drivingGreat!

Great hike! Got there at 7:50am on Saturday, Oct 10th, and about half the eight or so parking spots were full (though we saw on the way back that people found additional places to park on the side of the road etc too). Steady incline through the forest most of the way, as promised. A lot of fall colors have faded, but still beautiful and didn’t see hardly any other people on the way up (on the way down we saw people more frequently, once every ten or twenty minutes or so). Don’t be fooled by the first nice green lake as you come up out of the forest- keep going up! Once at the final lake, it’s also great to go around the lake and hike a bit further, up on the saddle point where you can look down on the lake, as well as see the mountains on the other side of the ridge. We loved it! It took us 2hrs to reach the lake, and a little less than an hour and a half back down.

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Paul Meyer
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Excellent hike. Trail easy to follow and very well maintained. Gradual incline all the way to the lakes, no grade too punishing. Tree covered most of the way, some light snow in first quarter mile. Very windy and cold, despite sun, at the lakes. Clocked this at closer to 7.4 miles round trip. Left mid morning on a Tuesday and encounteted very few people on the trail.

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Dan Holland
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OHV/Off-road driving

Awesome hike

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Eric Messerich
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Hiking

Go to the top and see all four lakes, it’s worth the windy/cold setting.

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B & Z 1950ish
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Hiking
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Marina Foerster
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Hiking

We went at 1pm. Small parking lot (as any). Well maintained trail. Shaded most of the way. A few creeks for the dogs to get a drink (towards the 2nd part of the hike). Steady incline all the way up. Most of the trail is through the forest. Closer towards the end trail goes through a few meadows and passes a few smaller lakes before you reach the end of the trail by the large lake. It was pretty windy when we went (10/10/2020). I always bring layers and today I had to put on a hat and gloves (when we reached the final lake). Beautiful trail, especially towards the end!

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Cheryl Funk
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Absolutely gorgeous! The weather was perfect although i should’ve brought a sweater for the top. Turned out to be 7miles and over 4 hours since we had lunch at the top. Dog got to play and swim!

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Barry Stein
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Hiking

Awesome!!! Who need alcohol and drugs when you can jack yourself up on this natural high. Trail run today!

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Ed OBrien
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HikingRocky

Really nice trail, fairly mild ascent. Just watch out for the altitude. When you get to the lake climb to the saddle for an awesome view.

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Susie Park
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Hiking

super nice lakes. awesome fall hike! Definitely coming back here. Don't get confused where the trail head is from the parking lot

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Morgan Shelton
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Hiking

Loved this hike! Gradual incline and shaded most of the way until the top when you start to see the lakes. Went on Labor Day weekend so it was pretty busy. Would recommend!

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Kierstin Loomis
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Hiking
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Martha Pena
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Hiking
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Amritha Sridhar
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Hiking

Great trail! Nice lakes. Beautiful fall colors. Though it was windy up near the lakes.

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Gregg Heinzel
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Hiking

Beautiful hike.

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Adam Carl
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HikingGreat!

Nice trail that is mostly easy. Fair amount of rock in the trail and two rock slide crossings but they are short. The incline is very gentle and manageable. Parking lot is not large and can make it difficult to park. Trail is in great shape. Had to turn around just before the end because of a storm.

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April Palma Roberts
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Hiking

Didn’t finish. Storm

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Emily M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 21, 2020
Hiking

Excellent trail! No snow or ice on the trail as of 9/20/2020. The trail feels like a gradual elevation gain. The views on the last portion of the trail before Ptarmigan lake were the best part! The parking lot is small, but we had no problem finding parking on a Sunday.

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Sherry Brown
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 15, 2020
HikingGreat!Icy

Still icy and slippery at the beginning, but passable without poles or spikes. Rest of trail mostly dry, I wore my altras and never had wet feet. Saw some moose tracks, and be on the lookout for pica's in the rock field. Nice steady climb, and a trail with great views!

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David Hancock
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Hiking

The trail is a nice moderate, shaded with a handful of nice mountain views. The lake is a bit anticlimactic.

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