If you’re looking for an easy hike near Crested Butte with lots of features, don’t miss the Three Lakes Trail with three lakes and a waterfall.
The hike starts at Lost Lake Campground on Kebler Pass, about 18 miles from Crested Butte (directions below). After you’ve parked in the hiking parking lot, walk past the picnic area, toward the bathrooms and turn right. Walk through the campground and you should see a sign that says Three Lakes Trail No. 843. Turn left and follow the old road around a bend.
About 0.16 miles from the campground, the trail splits off from the road at a marked intersection. You can turn off here and take the trail or stay on the road, because the two merge again a tenth of a mile away.
After the merge, the trail through the forest is very nice. It’s never very steep and it was very peaceful and quiet on a weekday in July.
Just a half mile from the campground, the trail turns left, crosses over the outflow of Lost Lake and arrives at Lost Lake.
Lost Lake is a nice place to sit for a few minutes. Listen to the wind in the trees. Look at the clouds blowing over the lake and the shadows they create on the water, Look at the nearby mountain peaks. From the lake, you may see part of the ridgeline between the two mountains. (If you look at the same area from Lost Lake Slough later, you’ll see more of the cirque than you can see here.) Notice all the downed trees in the outflow of the lake, we had fun speculating where those trees came from.
After a break, you can return the way you came or continue on the loop. It’s just 0.3 miles to the next trail split for “The Falls.” At the split, the sign says The Falls are 0.1 miles away. They’re not. They’re just a few steps away. The Falls is a series of several cascades in a rocky chasm. We saw three of the cascades from the trail.
Note, I got a glimpse of what looked like a really good cascade at the top, so I crossed the creek and climbed up the top. I don’t recommend it. The “trail” to the top is steep with loose rock and seemed a bit dangerous. And quite honestly, the two cascades at the top weren’t that impressive.
Back on the main trail, the trail begins to gain some altitude as it winds around the other side of the mountain to Dollar Lake. Along the way, when the forest opens up, you may get a glimpse of Lost Lake Slough below.
It’s less than a half mile from The Falls to the turnoff to Dollar Lake. While the sign at the split says 0.1, it’s a long 0.1 miles. My GPS registered about 0.22 miles to the lake. Dollar Lake is worth the little extra distance. Dollar Lake sits at the bottom of a scenic mountain with three peaks. Find a shady area to sit and enjoy the views. Notice the different colors of mountains in the area. And maybe take a walk around the lake.
When you’re ready, hike back to the trail split and continue on the loop to Lost Lake Slough. As you hike down the hill, you’ll occasionally get glimpses of this very large lake.
At the bottom of the trail, follow the signs to Lost Lake Campground. At one point, the trail comes out on a road. Turn left and follow the road through the campground until you see the signs for the hiker’s parking lot.
In the area, you may want to check out the Oh-Be-Joyful waterfall, Lake Irwin falls and Judd Falls. If you want more hikes, check out this list of 200+ great hikes in Colorado.
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Details: The hike around the loop is about 3.1 miles with about 550 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From Gunnison, take Highway 135 to Crested Butte and turn left on Whiterock Rock. Watch your speed on this street, the speed limit is just 15 mph. Take Whiterock Road 0.4 miles to where to becomes Kebler Pass Road/Gunnison County 12. (The road alternates between paved and dirt road.) It’s about 16 miles from here to the signed turnoff for Lost Lake Campground. Take the Lost Lake Road about 2.5 miles to the campground and turn right to find the hiker’s parking lot near the picnic parking.