We found the trailhead to the right of the Moffat Tunnel, and headed up the South Boulder Creek trail. The trail rose above the tunnel, and before long we were happy to find ourselves amidst patches of aspen, evergreen, and bright green alpine meadows. There are also some quaint wooden bridges and footpaths.
Eventually we got to the Crater Lakes trail, and I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself walking through tall trees draped in hanging moss. I had no idea there was any of this in dry Colorado. It seemed wonderfully out of place.
Also, at one plateau, after a short, steep climb, we found a cairn, which is a pile of rocks arranged in a rough pyramid shape. I’m not sure that this cairn has significant meaning, but it was kind of cool.
After about three miles, you get to Crater Lake. You can continue to the upper lakes, which are harder to get to, or you can do what we did, and walk the peaceful little trail around the lake and then head back down.
We went in mid-August, and there were plenty of wildflowers. I’d say this trail was littered with visual treasures – bridges, flowers, moss, tall trees, cairns, and lakes. Loved it!
I recommend using a maps app and navigating to Moffat Tunnel or to the GPS coordinates 39 54.181, -105 38.660 (See Hiking With Dogs.) Basically, from Nederland, head south on Hwy 119, which is also Hwy 72. At Rollinsville, turn right on E. Portal Road/Main Street/Hwy 16/Rollins Pass Road for about 7.5 miles to the trailhead (it’s the street of many names, and you go to the end of it). The trailhead is to the right (north) of the tunnel.
Yes, your dog is supposed to be kept on a leash.
Yes, small streams and lakes.
About 1400′ for the sections we did.