Lone Eagle Peak is by far one the most beautiful and scenic hikes in Colorado. It’s a great backpacking and camping destination with options for alpine rock climbing too. There are a few different ways to plan your trip; day hike, or camping. A day hike is easy, but if you decide to camp there are serval things you need to know before you go.
View of Lone Eagle Peak from Crater Lake
Here are some Lone Eagle Peak adventure options:
1. Day hike to Crater lake (view point of Lone Eagle Peak) - It’s about 18 miles to Crater Lake. All Trails says it's 16 miles out and back but from countless reviews and my own experience it is between 18-19 miles round trip. The hike is relatively flat with a low incline for a lot of the way with a few steep sections. Even if you just do a day trip, the views make it 100% percent worth it.
Waterfall along the way
2. Camp/backpack: If you choose to camp you will need a back-country permit. The permit is super cheap and easy to purchase. You can get your permit HERE for just $5.
Things to note when camping…
· Permits do sell out for the summer in advance so be sure a get yours as early as you can.
· You book your permit by “Zones” which you can see on the Indian Peaks Wilderness map HERE. Cascade Creek and Crater Lake are the most popular for camping as it is closest to Lone Eagle Peak. All other zones are still beautiful but may not be near Lone Eagle Peak.
· Be sure when you are choosing your camping zone you are aware of the direction of the route you are hiking. People hike this trail from different trail heads. The first trail head is from Brainard Lake near Nederland, Colorado (I have never gone this route to Lone Eagle Peak), the second route, and the route that it discussed in this article, is from the Monarch Lake Trailhead. One zone may seem close to Lone Eagle Peak on the map but nowhere near your route and separated by large peaks.
· You will need to pay for overnight parking. There is a kiosk on your way into to the trail head. You will place the receipt on your dash.
· Crater Lake and Cascade Creek camping are limited and require assigned camping spots that are given to you when you book your permit. All other zones are dispersed camping but will still require a permit.
3. Climb Lone Eagle Peak: If you are planning to climb Lone Eagle Peak you will need to camp. If you plan to only camp one night, I highly recommend camping as close to Lone Eagle Peak as possible at Crater Lake.
When I went, I couldn’t get a spot at Crater Lake and had to camp in the Cascade Creek zone. We woke up in the morning to start our approach, it took three hours from our tent to get to the base of the climb. We planned for 5-7 hours for the climb itself, then another 4-5 hours to hike back to the trailhead all in one day. It is doable (I did it) but if I could do it all over again, I would choose to camp two nights and/or camp right at Crater Lake.
If you camp at Crater Lake, the approach to the base of the climb is only about 45minutes to an hour depending on where your campsite is located.
For more information on the climb, gear and the decent check out mountain project. It is a great beginner climb for people interested in trad and alpine climbing. I did not lead the route, I only followed it, so I am not equipped to share information on gear. We also were not able to summit because of weather so I did not make it to the 5.7 crux pitch.
I hope this helped plan your trip and have fun!!!