Indian Peaks Wilderness Hike: Crater Lake & Mirror Lake

Indian Peaks Wilderness Hike: Crater Lake & Mirror Lake

Easily one of the best hikes I’ve done in Colorado. No mountain was climbed, but the company was good, and the route offered a little bit of everything.

Staley, me, Dave, and Shonna (my wife Rhiannon behind the camera). Crater Lake and Mirror Lake are accessible from Monarch Lake Trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The lakes are .2 miles apart in a deep bowl carved from Mount Achonee (12,469') and Lone Eagle Peak (11,920') on the west side of the Continental Divide. The Cascade Creek Trail follows Monarch Lake, Buchanan Creek, and Cascade Creek for 7.4 miles to the lakes. Though a long 14.8 miles round trip, there are many rewards along the way in this beautiful and spectacular area of Colorado.

The first of many waterfalls.

This mother moose and calf was a lovely surprise -the kind that makes you stop in your tracks, be quiet, and do a wide circle around.

This tree needed to be hugged.

And there it is, slowly coming into view...Lone Eagle Peak -my primary reason for doing this hike. I have wanted to see this mountain for many years.

Mirror Lake

Wilderness doesn't get much more dramatic than that.

My bald metal head is very jealous of these hair farmers.

Ridiculous contrast

While nice to have, hair is not required to head bang while playing air guitar.

Thousands of years of glaciers, wind, and precipitation made this ridge between peaks about as sharp and jagged as it gets.

Crater Lake (Colorado)

On the long hike back we stopped for a rest at this awesome waterfall and surrounding pool. Staley had an idea...

This water is freezing. Staley is a nut, but a hell of a lot of fun to have around. His energy level was through the roof all day.

Even he could not stand the cold for more than a few seconds.

A dragonfly sunning itself on a rock.

Rhiannon and I got behind the rest of the group near the end of the hike approaching Monarch Lake and saw this big bull moose off in the distance thrashing its rack in the bushes.


It was a fantastic hike. If you have a full day to spare, are in excellent hiking shape, and want to experience some of the best of Colorado, this hike is for you. Ours was mostly cloudy, but the scenery was still dramatic and inspiring. The Indian Peaks Wilderness never disappoints.