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Crater Lakes



2.7 mile 4.3 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 2,150' 655 m
Descent: -89' -27 m
High: 11,638' 3,547 m
Low: 9,571' 2,917 m


Avg Slope: 16% (9°)
Max Slope: 60% (31°)
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Trail shared by Zander Göpfert

A gradual approach to the lakes themselves with a more strenuous ridgeline ascent to a number of ski line options.

Zander Göpfert
Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry


From the intersection with the Forest Lakes Approach for Arapaho Lakes, this approach continues gradually uphill to the southwest along the Rogers Pass Trail. We actually missed the right-hand turn for the Crater Lakes Trail itself (shown as a connector), but the trees are spaced with more than enough room to pick your own skin track. After a couple hundred yards, this track meets back up with the trail and continues north/northwest weaving between a few rocky outcrops as the grade begins to level off.

As the ascent flattens out, the tree cover thins and views of the cirque surrounding the Crater Lakes come into view. This approach continues up the toe of the ridge to the south/southwest of the lakes which features a number of couloir lines. Due to their steep grades, make sure to take photos from below to ensure you choose the right line as there are cliff sections that could be, at the very least, difficult to negotiate out of.

Generally speaking, the grade of each couloir increases the further up the ridge you go.

At 2.3 miles in, there is a terrific area just below the conical peak of the ridge that provides a great vantage point to take a lunch break or snap a few photos. There are some remnants of old electric poles with pieces of ceramic that may have been used as insulators.

Continue for the final push, circumnavigating the conical peak of the ridge. After an extremely warm stretch of weeks in early spring, our objective at the end of this approach was dry, but the potential is there as this is a northern aspect with some protection from the wind and the opportunity to connect a number of lines back down to the intersection with Forest Lakes Approach.

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Dec 9, 2018
Kayleen Castelli

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes


  4.0 from 2 votes
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in Colorado


169 Views Last Month
3,535 Since Mar 28, 2017



Trudging up the ridge through wet spring snow. Way in the background, on the left side, sits a few of Boulder's foothills; Sanitas, Flagstaff, and Green Mountain.
Mar 28, 2017 near Winter…, CO
Making the final push to the back bowl above Upper Crater Lake.
Mar 28, 2017 near Winter…, CO
A relatively narrow couloir that showed us what a slough-slide looks like. The view to the bottom is unobstructed, which is only slightly more comforting.
Mar 28, 2017 near Winter…, CO
The consolation prize; skiing variable, wet snow with a high likelihood of leaving some p-tex behind.
Mar 28, 2017 near Winter…, CO
Picnic spot looking south to the peaks above Clayton Lake.
Mar 28, 2017 near Winter…, CO


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