Crater Lake Trail is a 3.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Elk Mountain, Wyoming that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from June until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length3.5 miElevation gain813 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingNature tripsDog friendlyLakeViewsWildlife
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

Wyoming Business Council Tourism Office, Frank Norris Jr. Travel Center, I-25 & College Drive , Cheyenne, WY, 82002-0660, Phone: 307-777-7777, Fax: 307-777-6472

Directions from Arlington: Travel 11 miles south on Forest Road #111, 1.5 miles south on Forest Road #101 and 2 miles northeast on Primitive Road #113.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (65)
Photos (93)
Recordings (39)
Completed (100)
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Masen Swink
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CampingGreat!

Amazing trail and views!! The last 12 miles to the trail head are gravel/dirt roads but definitely manageable with about any vehicle as long as you’re careful and maneuver the potholes. The trail itself is clearly marked and pretty easy! Once you get toward the look out, the view point is on your right, or you can veer left and take the switchbacks down to the water. Highly recommend!! It was not too difficult as long as you have shoes with good traction - I picked up a stick to use for a walking stick as well. There are some down trees that you have to go over or around, but it wasn’t anything too crazy. I completed the trail with my 8 year old mini Aussie and had to lift her over any fallen tree haha! Very doable and so worth it. There is plenty of dispersed camping on your way to the trail head, and parking at the trail head. I parked in a little pull off for dispersed camping and slept in my car! There is also a “ranger station” roughly 3 miles from the trail head.

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Luke Pearson
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BackpackingBlowdownGreat!

Fantastic hike for the length. I started at 5pm and made it to the campsite on the lake by 6:15pm. Saw only a handful of people over two days. The hike to the lookout point is quite easy, with the switchbacks down to the lake more challenging. There are downed trees but nothing that is impassable. There are plenty of spots to camp along the trail, as well as down by the lake. The road in is roughly 13 miles of gravel, but most cars should handle fine. Only the last mile is a little sketchy.

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William Harvey
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Hiking

Slick going down the switch backs

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Joseph Wotawa
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Great views. Going downhill can be tricky if you have a high center of gravity, but the switchbacks aren’t too troublesome. Drive in is on rocky road, so be sure you have clearance on your ride.

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Dustin Christianson
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Hiking
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Sara Stotter
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Hiking

Absolutely stunning, worth the drive. Trail is very easy except for switch backs up from the lake.

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Ashleigh Haliw
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Such a pretty hike! Clearly marked and not too long of a hike. The switchbacks are tricky but it pops you up right out to the lake. Great views. Very peaceful. Got there around 9 and we were the only ones on the trail until we left and headed back to the car around 12:30.

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Annalee Galley
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HikingGreat!
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C. Duane Burt
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HikingBugs

A few downed trees, and I went the wrong way at the overlook, but after some scary moments I found the trail again. Other than that I had a blast. With so little activity on the site I wasn't expecting much company, but ran into about 16 friendly people on the path. Was worth the 3+ hour drive both ways for me.

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Brie Stahl
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Hiking

A total hidden gem. Tucked away in medicine bow on a 14 mile gravel/dirt road. Great camping spots by the lake, tons of fish, and a beautiful overlook. On the way to the trailhead you pass tons of dispersed camping. Really had a great time so peaceful and little to no people even on a Saturday.

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Celease Slone
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Hiking

Very beautiful clear lake.

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michael ulrich
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Hiking

sparsely populated trail. Excellently marked and easy to follow. Just like all the other descriptions noted, the first half was easy going and the last part down to the lake was tough. Great views and a tidy campsite.

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Bruce Bond
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Hiking
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Michele Haagenson
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Hiking
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Chris Harris
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HikingGreat!

This hike is worth the view at the overlook down into the lake. Part of our group hiked to the overlook and back and the adventurous (younger) ones went down to the lakeshore. Only a few downed trees. Closer to 4 miles by our count doing the entire hike.

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Shawn Davis
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This is a fun one. Starts off easy then drops drastically into a series of steep switchbacks to Crater Lake. Nice spot. We stayed about 3 minutes then the work begins straight back up those crazy switches. Not too long, but definitely worth your time.

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Jennifer Blair
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Hiking

Absolutely stunning views from the rim and gorgeous quiet lake at the bottom. I took my 13 and 8 year old daughters and our dog and they all did great. The hard part of the trail is 11 switchbacks down to the lake from the rim and then back up again. We were huffing and puffing a bit when we got back to the top especially because of the elevation. It was very quiet and we only encountered a few other hikers along the way. It’s definitely worth the hike to go down to the lake!

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Jason Montague
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HikingBlowdownRocky

The first mile is easy and the overlook is perfect. The last half mile will make you re-think the choices you have made in your life. Cold clear water of the lake is awesome. Makes the trip down and back up all worth it.

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Shawn Davis
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Hiking

Took the dog and my two teenagers on this today. It was an amazing short walk. I think it ended up around 4.5 out then back. It rained on us, which made the trail pretty wet, but overall really fun for everyone. Just before you decline down the hill toward the lake there is a short cutoff trail to the east that gives you a great photo opportunity with Crater down below. We walked down, soaked our feet then waited for the rain to quit, but it didn’t. Really nice short trail.

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Austin F
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HikingGreat!Rocky

Fun, easy hike. We only made it to the lookout due to time. Yet, was a very fun hike.

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Gary Pauli
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Have been down this trail many times in my life. love the view from look out point.

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James Feichtel
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Hiking

Amazing view

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J L Wiles
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Hike this trail every August from 1969 through 1972. The trail was very sparsely traveled back then. I think it was in 1970 or 71 wev watched a huge heard of elk move across the far slope of Elk Mt. from the lake's outlet. Definitely a Bucket List experience.

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Michael Ulanski
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Hiking

The hike was gorgeous and well worth it. Short hike but even though it says hard; a large part of the trail is moderate to easy until you get to the overlook. Then the trail gets hard headed down to the water. So even a beginner could see the beautiful lake from the top. There’s also a couple really nice areas to camp. We plan to back pack next time and set up camp.

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Justin Scott
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Don't be fooled by the "hard" level. 95% of the trail is easy. The overlook of the lake is worth the trip, which you can hike to for the photo opp then turn around for an easy day hike. The color of the water from the lookout is worth The trip. You'll be amazed how blue looking the water is. No picture will do it justice. The "hard" portion is from the overlook down to the lake itself, which probably should be classified as "very damn hard". The trail is lightly traveled, so there is some downed trees in the trail, but you can easily get around them. We set up camp near the lookout and enjoyed an easy overnight trip. You should too.

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