Crater Lakes Snowshoeing (March 2007)

The Crater Lakes are in the James Peak Wilderness, southwest of Boulder. The closest trailhead is at the East Portal of Moffat Tunnel (usually called just East Portal). This area usually has a good snowpack in the winter. The main trail through this area, South Boulder Creek trail, is usually packed down. The lakes we went to are off the main trail. The hike up to the lakes and back to the main trail was probably some of the roughest snowshoeing I have ever done.

We started going up the South Boulder Creek Trail. In some sections the packed trail does not follow the actual trail, including where the turn for Crater Lakes was. Once we realized we had passed the Crater Lakes Trail, we followed some ski tracks going towards the lakes. There was no broken trail to the lakes. It was hard going through some snowdrifts and we followed tracks when we saw them. We ended up at the two middle lakes first.

Crater Lake #2 South

Blown Snow Crust on Crater #2 South


I walked out on the lake and checked the ice. I couldn't see far into the ice, but it felt solid. Three steps later, Crack! I had cracked a section of the ice.

 Hole in the Ice

When checking it out, it appeared that a half inch layer of ice was on top of ten inches of slush that was on top of a rock or ice surface. The middle of the lakes looked pretty bad to so we stayed near the shore.

Crater Lake #2 North

 We went by the first lake then headed straight back to the main trail.

Crater Lake #1


The route was ok until we started going down the steep section. We stayed away from the creek draining the lakes as long as possible, but eventually we ended up following it. It was a rough walk back to the main trail. Distance: 5.9 mi. Time: 4.5 hours.

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