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California might boast Yosemite, however Colorado presents the Indian Peaks Wilderness valley. And inside this wilderness, one occurs upon an arresting sight — Mirror Lake and Crater Lake, dutifully monitored by the spectacular Lone Eagle Peak. Lengthy thought of an iconic vary, the Indian Peaks give hikers an countless stream of prime pictures, wildflowers, and “Have a look at that!” moments. From the trailhead to Mirror Lake hikers encounter a half-dozen waterfalls, any certainly one of which might seize all-star standing on one other path!

Discover the total Crater Lake Hike profile beneath for path map, driving instructions, and extra ideas and particulars that can assist you take pleasure in this bucket checklist hike simply west of Denver.

Path Snapshot: Crater Lake by way of Mirror Lake

lone eagle peak

Lone Eagle Peak

Parking & Trailhead Data for Crater Lake Hike

From Denver, head west on I-70 to exit 232 for Freeway 40W. Climb up the attractive Berthoud Cross and thru Winter Park on to Granby, CO. Barely out of Granby, search for Freeway 34 off to the appropriate, heading northeast. Observe this for 5 miles to Route 6; flip proper onto Route 6. Should you wouldn’t have an annual Nationwide Park move (“America the Stunning” move), a self-pay station sits off to the left as you enter. The U.S. Forest Service does commonly verify for passes or bought day-use permits. To achieve the Monarch Lake Trailhead, proceed on Route 6 for one more 9 miles. With campers, hikers, and sightseers, the lot fills rapidly.

indian peaks range profile

The Indian Peaks vary

The Hike: Crater Lake Hike within the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Starting from the japanese fringe of the Monarch Lake Trailhead parking space, the path commences instantly after metallic gate resulting in the lake. On the lake, a three-panel signal orients guests to the recreation space. Staying left, hugging the northern rim of the lake, the path proceeds alongside the shore with views into the valley quickly to be explored. At 1.5 miles, a juncture peels off to the appropriate to circumnavigate the lake; this path stays left and begins a reasonable climb up by way of Hell Canyon, alongside Buchannan Creek. Whereas the identify feels foreboding, the trek is sort of nice because it ascends by way of a forest with periodic home windows down onto the dashing creek. The primary key junction seems at 3.5 miles, the place the path stays straight, remaining on the Cascade Creek Path:

trail junction

Path Junction #1: Cascade Creek Path

The path continues gently by way of the forest, and the waterfalls begin punctuating the creek’s circulation. Repeatedly, hikers can have cause to cease, hear, and marvel at water crashing down from 10-50ft or extra above. Most of the falls tempt vacationers to stroll up shut…be VERY attentive. The falls present no mercy for those who take a dip!

waterfall on way to crater lake

Waterfalls alongside Buchannan and Cascade Creeks

Over the following three to three.5 miles the path good points roughly 1,200, however the surroundings so powerfully captures one’s sense of awe that the ascent passes unnoticed. Wildflowers, valley flooring etched with streams, creek crossings on logs, peaks and crags and extra waterfalls…the sights by no means cease. The one factor stopping hikers is one other key junction, this time for the turnoff (to the appropriate) for Crater Lake Path:

trail junction for crater lake

Path Junction #2: Crater Lake Path

Staying proper and feeling one other ascent, push on for 1 mile towards Mirror Lake:

mirror lake

Mirror Lake

lone eagel over mirror lake

Lone Eagle towering over Mirror Lake

Barely 1/4-mile past this, take within the majestic setting of Crater Lake:

crater lake

Crater Lake

By far the toughest a part of the hike now hits — the choice to return to the trailhead! Given the trouble required to succeed in Crater Lake, hikers typically linger and seize a snack from their pack. Clever and attentive backcountry explorers will pay attention to the time, assuring themselves of adequate daylight for a protected return hike. Climate can shift rapidly within the wilderness, and dashing again over 7-8 miles will increase threat of harm. Plan forward. Nevertheless, all cautions in hand, with diligent prep work, the Crater Lake Hike by way of Mirror Lake stands among the many better of all wilderness hikes in Colorado.

Suggestions & Assets for Mountaineering to Crater Lake within the Indian Peaks Wilderness

  • TIP: The adventurous soul might think about cresting Pawnee Cross for views down onto Brainard Lake Recreation Space, one of the widespread summer time locations. Brainard accommodates the beloved Lengthy, Mitchell, Blue, and Isabelle Lakes. Clever hikers might have to decide on between Crater Lake OR Pawnee Cross, as doing each in the identical day is extraordinarily strenuous.
  • Path Map: Crater Lake Hike
  • Packing Record: All the time pack the ten Necessities. Obtain our Mountaineering Information to get the checklist and dayhiking packing guidelines. Moreover, take a while to evaluation our 10 Winter Mountaineering Suggestions.
  • Colorado Street Situations: Colorado Street Situations
  • After the Hike: Scoot as much as Grand Lake (10 miles north on Freeway 34) or drop down into Winter Park (27 miles again towards Denver). Grand Lake has a pleasant downtown boardwalk and borders Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park. If time permits, a drive up and over Path Ridge Street places one in contact with nationwide historical past and world-class views.


Map & Driving Instructions

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