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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Crater Lake Trail #623, CO

no permit
55 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
3.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 5.87 miles
Trailhead Elevation 10,755 feet
Elevation Gain 948 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,583 feet
Avg Time One Way 2-3 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 11.15
Interest Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
20  2016-07-04 chumley
11  2016-07-04 John9L
24  2010-09-04 Vaporman
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 75
Routes 667
Photos 13,162
Trips 1,416 map ( 10,534 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  5:53am - 6:17pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
In Twilight's Shadow
by chumley

Likely In-Season!
Overview: This is an excellent high-elevation hike for the whole family. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow, the views are great, and the destination is worth the effort!

Hike: The hike begins on the south side of the popular Andrews Lake. Follow the paved multiuse path over the bridge before turning onto dirt single-track near the first fishing dock and heading up a gentle slope to the informational signs indicating the start of the trail.

From here the trail leads steadily uphill. This is part of the trail is obviously well-traveled, and it is often wide enough for 2 or 3 people to hike side-by-side. The first 1.25 miles climbs 500 feet while traversing about half a dozen switchbacks. There is evidence of overuse and erosion, and numerous signs remind hikers to stay on the trail and not to cut switchbacks.

Once reaching the crest of the initial climb, you pass a trail junction with a forest service register box. The trail to the left leads across a picturesque meadow with a couple of ponds before ascending to the summit of Snowdon Peak. Go straight here to continue to Crater Lake. This is probably a spot where many take in the view and return to the lake. From here the trail is single-track.

Over the next .75 mile the trail descends about 200 feet through a draw to a small drainage, which will be running with water during snowmelt or after wet weather. There are excellent views to the north and the peaks near Silverton, while Engineer dominates the southwest view.

At about the 2 mile mark, the trail begins a short and steep climb of about 400 feet in half a mile as you cross the signed boundary and enter the Weminuche Wilderness. All normal wilderness regulations apply ... no bikes or other mechanized transport, and a group limit of 15.

At the 2.5 mile mark, the trail descends again, dropping about 300 feet over the next half mile, crossing the upper reaches of Three Lakes Creek along the way. Next, the trail climbs gently but steadily over the next 2.5 miles, passing through open meadows with views of Engineer and North Twilight Peaks as well as shaded pine forest. Summer will bring ample wildflowers to the grassy meadows, and early season will provide views of snow capped peaks. A couple of areas of deadfall provide an occasional obstacle, but the trail is well-maintained and most trees should be cleared from the trail.

After 5.4 miles the trail reaches the high-point before dropping slightly to a small marshy pond. The final half mile meanders southward, and gently descends to the picturesque shore of Crater Lake.

Once reaching the lake, you may return the way you came, or you can explore the use trails that head in both directions around the lake. Circling the lake completely will add a little over half a mile.

Connecting Options: As indicated above, this trail can be used to access Snowdon Peak. Additionally, from the end of the trail at Crater Lake, there is a well-worn path that leads to North Twilight Peak and other undeveloped destinations in the West Needle Mountains.

Camping: Camping is permitted in the Weminuche Wilderness but there are restrictions to camping close to Crater Lake. All camps must be 100 feet or more from the shore, and campers should use existing fire rings when possible. There are several posts near the lake that prohibit camping in specific areas. Please observe signs and restrictions.

Water Sources: Crater Lake provides drinkable water as do numerous stream crossings along the trail. All water should be treated prior to drinking.

Fishing: Fly and spin-casting are permitted at Crater Lake and it is rated fair for cutthroat trout. Check with Colorado Parks and Wildlife for permit and limits.

Weather: As with most high-elevation summer hikes, the weather is likely to be better in the morning. By noon showers and thunderstorms are common and can develop rapidly.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2016-07-11 chumley

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Crater Lake Trail #623
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Our final hike of our Colorado trip on fourth of July! We pulled in to a relatively packed trailhead by Andrews Lake. We parked in an unofficial spot & started hiking around 10:30am. The first mile of this hike makes a nice climb and then has two rolling climbs. From there it's easy going as you hike through forest and open sections. The views of Engineer to the west are breathtaking & North Twilight Peak dominates to the south. These mountain views never get old! We eventually hit Crate Lake and admired this area. The Lake is nice and there are several campsites around the perimeter. I opted for a lunch spot on west side while Chumley & Claire worked their way around.

    After lunch we started our return as some clouds moved in. There were a few sounds of Thunder and then some rain started to fall. We put on our rain gear and continued. The rain was not bad & didn't last too long. We made good time on the return and then headed back down to Purgatory for an early dinner.

    This hike completes our trip to Colorado. We hiked five trails over the course of four days and made stops in Durango & Silverton. We covered a lot of ground and it left me thirsting for more. Colorado is such a beautiful state and is paradise for a hiker!
    Crater Lake Trail #623
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Looking for a 10-12 mile hike with some moderate elevation gain, we opted for the out n back to Crater Lake. It was a busy day and we encountered a handful of small groups doing the same day hike as us, as well as two groups of skiers and snowboarders on their way back from riding the Fourth of July Couloir on North Twilight, some backpackers who had overnighted near the lake, and one group heading up to summit Snowdon. There was even a group from Columbus, so 9L was able to get some Buckeye love :roll: .

    The first half of the hike was a little bit drier than we had experienced in previous days, but later on there was plenty of running water and mud, which we had become accustomed to. The lake wasn't particularly scenic, but was still a worthy destination, and the trail itself was fantastic. We took a short break at the lake as thunder rumbled overhead. Shortly after starting the return it began to rain. Despite ominous skies in all directions we managed to avoid a deluge, and after a short duration of light rain, it just sporadically drizzled for the rest of the hike out though the temperature dropped to light jacket temperature.

    Despite the easy unique, we opted to skip the trip to Molas Lake Campground, though we did check out Little Molas and the trailhead for the Colorado Trail there.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Durango, drive 40 miles north on US-550 to the signed turn for Andrews Lake. Proceed on the paved Andrews Lake access about one mile to the parking area.
    If coming from the north, the turn for Andrews Lake is about 7 miles south of Silverton, and one mile south of Molas Pass.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Jul 11 2016 7:33 pm
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