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Crater Lakes Trail

Basics
Location:
20 miles west of Boulder
Length:
6 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Time:
3 to 3.5 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
9200 feet
Elevation Change:
-1400 feet
Season:
June - October

Description

The Crater Lakes Trail turns right (north) off the South Boulder Creek Trail #900, about 3/4 mile beyond the meadow at the Forest Lakes Trail #809 junction. There is often a cairn marking the junction. The trail climbs steeply about a mile to the two main Crater Lakes. It crosses the narrow spit of land between them, and continues another half mile to the highest lake. Although these lakes are quite popular, the trail is difficult to follow. The result is a network of braiding paths that go in many directions. On the way down, try to avoid ending up on one that passes the lowest lake and follows the outlet stream, as it is extremely steep.

Length: East Portal Trailhead (TH) to: Forest Lakes Trail - 1.2; Heart Lake - 4.2 miles; Rogers Pass - 4.6 miles; Crater Lake - 3 miles; Arapaho Lakes - 3 ½ miles; Forest Lakes - 4 miles. Forest Lakes TH to: Forest Lakes - 1/4 mile; Arapaho Lakes - 2 miles. DISTANCES ARE ONE-WAY.

Books

Details

Location:
20 miles west of Boulder
Length:
6 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Time:
3 to 3.5 hours
Trailhead Elevation:
9200
Elevation Change:
-1400
Season:
June - October
Useful Map(s):
USGS Maps: East Portal and Empire quads
Camping Info
Camping permitted
Additional Details:
The East Portal Quad is very helpful in following these trails - all but Rogers Pass Lake are contained on it. Trail intersections are unmarked and often unnoticed. This trail system is in dense subalpine forest, along creeks which lead to dozens of sparkling green lakes. Most of the lakes lie at or above treeline in delicate alpine tundra ecosystems - please be careful where you walk and camp.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions

Travelling south from Nederland, west of Boulder, on CO 119, go west out of Rollinsville on gravel County Road 16 (a.k.a. Moffat Road or Rollins Pass Road).

Drive 7 miles to the end of County Road 16 (Road 16 ends at a T-junction).

Go left 1 mile to park at the East Portal TH or, if you have a high-clearance vehicle, go right and drive an additional 11 miles on a native surface road, to park at the Forest Lakes TH.


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