TR: Peeler Lakes Hike (Sept & Oct 2014)

(Last Updated On: November 5, 2014)

The Peeler Lakes are one of those places that seems like they shouldn’t be too hard to get to. But, really, they kind of are. Tucked away in Peeler Basin with Peeler Mountain and Scarp’s Ridge towering above, these lakes are more often viewed from afar rather than up close. It was finally time that I go there.

Peeler Lakes from Scarp's Ridge near Crested Butte
Upper Peeler Lakes with one of the Lower Peeler lakes on the right, as seen from Scarp’s Ridge.

To be true, I’d been to Peeler Lakes before. But, it was winter and snow-cover didn’t even reveal that a lake even existed.

I’d dreamed up this expedition in the past. One of the ways to get to Peeler Lakes is via Gunsight Pass Road. But, this road is heavily 4-wheel drive. My Subaru certainly wouldn’t make it up there – not if I wanted it to come back in one piece. So, why not bike it?

And that’s exactly what I did. I began my ride in town, riding on the Lower Loop and catching the Gunsight Pass Road at the western end of the trail. I took it upward toward Redwell Basin.
Gunsight Pass Road near Crested Butte.

It was the end of September, and the leaves were in their prime. This photo captures a scene of Paradise Divide from Gunsight Pass Road.
Views from Gunsight Pass Road near Crested Butte.

Looking over toward the Climax area from Gunsight Pass Road.
Climax seen from Gunsight Pass Rd.

Then the road got switchbacky. Like really really switchbacky. I don’t think the mode of transportation matters. You’re always glad when you finally see this – Redwell Basin.
Redwell Basin on Mt. Emmons near Crested Butte

Upon reaching Redwell Basin, I ditched the bike in the bushes and began walking on Trail 404 toward Peeler Lakes. The views from the start were wonderful.
View of Gothic Mountain from Redwell Basin

Another Redwell Basin shot.
Redwell Basin seen from Trail 404, Peeler Lakes trail

Trail 404, Peeler Lakes near Crested Butte

Views from Redwell Basin

After exiting Redwell Basin, the trail began to wind through a lovely forest.
Peeler Lakes trail near Crested Butte

Peeler Lakes trail near Crested Butte

The old-growth forest was some of the most beautiful forest I’ve seen in the Crested Butte area.
Peeler Lakes trail near Crested Butte

Mushrooms were aplenty, even in September.
Mushroom on Peeler Lakes trail near Crested Butte

Being short on time, because I had to work in the afternoon, I actually ran parts of the trail. I reached the area near where the lakes were supposed to be. I’d hoped I’d be able to see them, but quickly realized I’d have to do some pretty good bush-whacking to get them in view. Due to my limited time, I wasn’t going to be able to do the bush-whacking thing. So, I decided to save it for another day and turned around. I took a couple more scenic shots on my way out.
View from Peeler Lakes trail near Crested Butte

View from Peeler Lakes trail near Crested Butte

To my surprise, winter held out. So, five weeks later, I got it in my brain to complete this unfinished task. Redwell Basin looked a little different 🙂
Redwell Basin on Mount Emmons near Crested Butte

But the trail was still surprisingly green.
Peeler Lakes Trail near Crested Butte

As I approached the area near the lakes, I looked for signs of potential “climbers” trails leading toward the lakes. I did not see any. I passed the lakes and veered left off-trail, backtracking a bit through avy debris.
Avalanche debris near Peeler Lakes near Crested Butte

I spotted the 2nd Lower Peeler Lake near the edge of the forest.
Lower Peeler Lake near Crested Butte

Lower Peeler Lake near Crested Butte

Some large trees had been uprooted during an avalanche event.
Tree near Lower Peeler Lake near Crested Butte

One last look at Peeler Lake.
Lower Peeler Lake

After exploring the lake a bit, I headed up the Peeler Basin a little further.
Peeler Basin near Crested Butte

As the fall sun was quickly waning, I decided to turn around and head back. But, I was happy to have accomplished my goal, even if it was a bit overdue 🙂

Want to do this hike yourself?

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Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

Latest posts by Brittany Walker Konsella (see all)

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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