Crater Lakes Trail

James Peak Wilderness Area, Colorado

Elevation Gain870ft
Trailhead Elevation9,937ft
Elevation Min/Max9932/10596ft
Elevation Start/End9937/9937ft

Crater Lakes Trail

Crater Lakes Trail is a hiking trail in Gilpin County, Colorado. It is within James Peak Wilderness Area. It is 0.9 miles long and begins at 9,937 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 870 feet. This trail connects with the following: Rogers Pass Trail.

Crater Lakes Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Afoot & Afield: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Rocky Mountain National Park (Wilderness Press)
Alan Apt and Kay Turnbaugh
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"This is the easiest and shortest route from the East Portal Trailhead. You will reach the trail junction for Crater Lakes in just under 2 miles, and the short, steep climb from that point rewards you with immediate views of the glacier-carved valley and soaring ridgeline. The lakes are small but pretty, and there are good picnic spots. From Boulder, take Canyon Boulevard/CO 119 west 18 miles to Nederland. From the roundabout go right (south) onto Peak to Peak Scenic Byway (CO 119), and drive 4.5 miles to Rollinsville. Turn right (west) on narrow, gravel County Road 16; drive 8 more miles to the Moffat Tunnel and the East Portal Trailhead."

Crater Lakes Trail Trip Reports

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This site incorrectly lists the trail as being 0.9 miles each way but the guide book correctly lists is as being 3 miles each way starting from the East Portal TH. It was a little windy and cold at the start but it warmed up as I went up. I didn't have to put my snowshoes on until about 1.5 miles into the trail but then they were needed as the snow as deep and I had to break trail a few times. There are lots and lots of trails in here and the marking is poor, so having a good map and a GPS was very helpful in following the correct trail. There is a steep climb of about 1500 ft towards the end just before you get to the lower lakes but beyond that the trail was not so difficult. I did not make it to the upper lake because of avalanche danger but the lower lakes are nice and I intend to go back to the upper lake in the summer. It was also quiet and not crowded. I took me about 4 hours with a lunch brake at the lakes. Kind of slow pace for a 6 mile trail but it was mostly because of the deep snow.

Crater Lakes Trail Photos

Trail Information

James Peak Wilderness Area
Nearby City
James Peak Wilderness Area
James Peak Wilderness, Boulder Ranger District, Roosevelt National Forest
Local Contacts
Latitude 40° Boulder County Trails
Local Maps

Trail Log