You don't have to drive far from Denver to spend a weekend disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the city. Camping at Mirror Lake, situated beneath the awe-inspiring Lone Eagle Peak, was just what we needed to recharge the batteries!
Distance From Denver: 2 Hours
RT Length: 14.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,507'
Trailhead: Monarch Lake
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Best Time To Go: July - September
Note: A backcountry permit is required to camp at Mirror and Crater Lakes. More information can be found HERE.
Due to the one-way hiking distance, we decided to camp at Lake Granby Friday night. Highly recommend this option as it gave our group time to relax, hang out, and enjoy dinner by the campfire. We camped at the Stillwater Campground, although there are several campsite options near Granby. If you prefer, you could hike in 1-2 miles past Monarch Lake Trailhead and opt to find a dispersed campsite.
The following morning we packed up, headed for the trailhead (10 min drive), and set off for Mirror Lake. The first few miles of the hike provides beautiful views of Monarch Lake and fishable streams with little elevation gain. Be on the lookout for osprey over the lake, moose in the marshy inlet area, and wildflowers along the way.
At approximately 3 miles in, the trail becomes steeper showcasing several waterfalls leading up to Cascade Falls at 4.5 miles, a great spot to eat a snack or lunch! The last stretch leading up to Mirror Lake is filled with numerous switchbacks and gorgeous views of the valley beneath the Continental Divide. Be sure to pack a rain jacket as Colorado weather is variable above 9K feet - we ran into a 30 minute spurt of hail! Can't beat the unpredictable weather in the High Rockies!
You'll know it when you reach the lake. The iconic peak towers over the still water creating a beautiful reflection. Reserved campsites line both Mirror Lake and Crater Lake, which is about a half mile further up the trail. Our group found a campsite right off Mirror Lake and set up shop for the night!
The sunset over Mirror Lake was INCREDIBLE. The main trail continues up the west side of Mirror Lake to the larger Crater Lake. There are many social trails between the lakes, and it's possible to become disoriented. If in doubt, simply follow the stream connecting the two, which also provides a great water source.
We spent the night story telling, star gazing, and enjoying the campsite views. The following morning we woke up early for sunrise pictures of Lone Eagle Peak reflecting in the still water of Mirror Lake before descending back down to the parking lot. An awesome trip with great company! Highly recommend securing a permit for next Spring and spending the weekend tucked away in one of Colorado's most beautiful wilderness areas!