Crested Butte Hikes: Copper Lake

In Hiking guide by Eric Phillips

Whether you’re hiking to Aspen or just up to the high alpine lake, this hike offers some fantastic views of mountains and wildflowers. Bus transportation available to the trailhead makes this an easy-to-get-to trail.

 Copper LakeEast Maroon Pass
Highlights:Lake, Mountain Views, WildflowersMountain Views, Wildflowers
Difficulty:ModerateModerate
RT Length:10.2 miles12.4 miles
Approx. Time:3-4 hours4-5 hours
Elevation Gain:1,638 feet2,064 feet
Max Elevation:11,475 feet11,901 feet
Trailhead Elevation:9,837 feet9,837 feet
Travel Time to TH:15 minutes15 minutes

Click photos to view multi-season gallery

Directions

Driving

From the Town of Crested Butte: Take Gothic Road (135) north past Mt. Crested Butte. Bear right past the Snodgrass Trailhead parking lot and descend into the East River Valley for a total of 8.45 miles just past the town of Gothic [1]. Park at the signed Copper Creek lot on the right side [2]. There is an upper parking lot area accessible by SUV another .5 miles up the trail.  Map

Free Bus

The Mountain Express bus runs to the Copper Lake trailhead daily. Avoid the hassle of parking and take the bus straight from town. The bus schedule can be found here

Route

Copper Lake

Starting from the upper parking [3] lot follow the trail up to Judd Falls. Once at the falls the trail turns to to an old 4×4 road and continues as a double track [4] all the way to Copper Lake. Gradually climb up the road 1.4 miles until the first of three stream crossings [5]. It’s a good idea to pack shoes that can get wet and be used for these crossings. Continue on another 1.4 miles through thick spruce forest to the second crossing[6] closely followed by the third. A mile after the third crossing you will come upon a junction [7], head straight (Right goes to triangle pass) and continue for .2 miles to the lake [8]

East Maroon Pass

From the lake head right and continue up the trail. Some of the best views can be found on the trail between Copper Lake and East Maroon Pass. This stretch of trail is often covered in wildflowers during later summer months [9]. From the top of East Maroon enjoy epic views into multiple drainages [10]. Head back down the way you came to Crested Butte or continue to over the pass toward Aspen. 

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For longer hikes it's a good idea to carry a few extra things in your pack. Make sure to bring extra food and water, rain gear, a map or GPS, sun protection, and a flashlight in case your hike goes late. More information on what to pack can be found here.

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Most of this trail lies in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. Practice 'leave no trace' principles. Trash and human waste can take decades to decompose in an alpine environment. Pack it in, pack it out with all trash. There is a restroom at the lower parking lot. Try and use it before your hike. More information on how to handle waste in the backcountry can be found here.

Trail Map & Profile



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Enjoying this trail? Help support the people who maintain it. Donate to the Crested Butte Conservation Corps.