Explore july2018 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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hiking
15 hours ago

Pretty busy at the bottom, but we’re able to get to the peak, and found a little goat path back down so we were able to make it a loop and get away from all the people.

off road driving
21 hours ago

Beautiful in the fall. Follow the directions to the town of Crystal. We were in a 4runner and made the mistake of following someone else's directions. It took us on the extreme off road part. After several hours and extremely rough terrain (with kids in the car), we made it to the mill. At this time of year, paying $10 to go down to the water isn't worth it. You aren't allowed to fish and it's too cold to swim. The drive down was much easier. The gentle rocking put our kids to sleep. We will definitely do the drive again.

I would highly recommend this trail, loved it. Amazing views from summit. It is a bit of a slog thru lodgepole pines initially and I started to wonder how it would be but after about 20 min. it opens up to lovely views. I would recommend taking trail on right to summit, past gate. It is a bit of a climb but wait till you see the views, what a reward. I had a hard time leaving the summit. So beautiful!

Great hike and decent workout. The 3/4 mile and the last 3/4 is steep. Took me about 3:45 round trip with about 30 min up top. Beautiful views. I got there at 9:15 and honestly wish I got there a littler earlier because it did get crowded. But it was also a Saturday.

Great trail. Got there at 7am on a Saturday and there were only a few cars in the parking lot. Took us 2 hours to get up to the top taking breaks occasionally. Trail is easy to follow and a good moderate hike. It’s fairly steep at the beginning and the end but worth the few. Once we headed back down it was very busy with a lot of people. I’d recommend you go early in the morning to avoid the crowds!

very short steep hike. only took us 15 minutes to get to the lake. we ended up climbing up the rocks to the very top of the mountain which was worth the view!!

hiking
2 days ago

I hiked up to the lake and found a few geocaches. A good portion of the trail is in the woods, getting above the tree line towards the end. Didn’t see too many people on a weekday morning but it’s clear this is a popular trail. I enjoyed eating my lunch with the lake to myself, watching the birds. I was out for 4h and travelled 7.7 miles.

hiking
2 days ago

Beautiful area and easy to access the lower start. If you have any SUV don’t be scared to drive up a bit further to the fork (about 1 mile). We made the mistake of not doing that and walked a while longer. Very exposed so not recommended for children unless you are driving to the mill. Gorgeous valley and highly recommend.

hiking
3 days ago

Things to know:
1. Many people talk about parking at the mailboxes, if you do this it adds at least 2 miles to the hike (one mile up steep road). There is parking at the top of this "4x4" road next to sign. READ Blog link for more info.
2. As an avid hiker, I hate to say this hike is better suited for driving an SUV or ATV as mill is a bit anti-climatic after 10 miles
3. GO early (7am) to have the road to yourself for the first few hours. You will also likely arrive at the mill before the bookstore folks have their table set up and you can walk to water at your own risk rather than pay $10
4. Don't miss the BBQ place in Marble for an amazing lunch
Here is link to blog: https://etbtravelphotography.com/2018/09/20/road-trip-to-the-rockies-a-weekend-in-aspen/

Beautiful but 4 wheelers were a distraction.

hiking
3 days ago

We did this trail last December. Ended up being about 13 miles round trip from where we had to park, but totally worth it. Gorgeous in the summer, but if you can brave it and don't mind the wind, do this in December-March. The snow makes the hike a good bit harder, but provides an unbelievable view once you reach the lake. Doing this again on 09/23 with the doggos this time!!

hiking
4 days ago

Nice views with the leaves changing colors. The last 1/4 mile had some tough steep hills. Certainly got the heart pounding.

short hike great place to spend the day

This trail does get packed later into the day and holidays, so the earlier you go the better and there are two parking lots (north and south of the trail) that cost $5.00 cash to access. The trail head is in between the two lots. While I was there, there weren't many people on the trail and it was very peaceful. If you take the trail to access the lake just follow the main trail, don't veer right until you start to see the lake through the trees on your right hand side, then you can climb down to it using the paths.

The drive up to the trail head is beautiful in the fall, aspens cascade down both sides of the road (which has been newly paved at the time of writing this). The trail starts off wide with some loose rocks, but it is not difficult to hike and it's a short hike if you're just trying to make it to the lake itself. The main trail is nice with lots of foliage and boulders to rest on if you need to catch your breath due to altitude. Once you get to the lake the landscape becomes absolutely breath taking! While my husband I were there the water was unbelievably cold and it's colors were beautiful! Shallow parts of the lake were tan, but then others had a beautiful blue hue and it was completely clear!

If you want the hike to be a little more challenging (and a bit longer) hang a right and walk around the bank of the lake and go up towards the glacier. There is a trail to follow that goes up to the glacier and then up to the very top of the mountain itself. There is a warning sign saying it's not an official part of the trail, so take caution. There is wet ground and slippery rocks around due to the glacier and you may lose footing if you aren't careful or wearing proper shoes. My husband and I climbed up to the glacier bit and looking out over the lake and physically feeling the glacier was a wonderful experience. Pictures will be posted on here soon! Over all, this trail is easy, but you can make it more challenging and looking out over the scenery next to a glacier is not a bad way to spend your morning!

hiking
5 days ago

Great hike but closer to 10-12 miles round trip depending where you start. We started near the mailboxes and it was about 11 miles round trip. Fall is the best time to go! There is a lot of atv traffic but easy enough for people to pass each other. Town of Crystal is adorable. It does cost $10/person to go down to the waterfall near the mill but the Family that owns the land restores the mill out of their own pocket so I'd suggest donating or paying that $10 because its only a matter of time until this is off limits to the public.

Not sure where the main trail head is, we walked 20 minutes over all rock. Tried to hike up next to a waterfall like stream and had to turn around. Terrain and climb was moderate to difficult with little or no payoff. Many people around us were really confused too-very disappointing.

I loved this trail! It is a good workout but not too hard. It is well maintained. There are plenty of beautiful sights along the way and at the end there is a very big payoff in the way of a beautiful lake surrounded by an awesome rotunda of rock. I took a dip in the lake and it was exhilarating to say the least. Highly recommended

Arrived 7:15am on a Monday in September. Only 3-4 other cars in the lot and saw no one else on the trail until we hit Isabelle. Water level is low (drained)but it was still a worthwhile hike and there’s still a decent amount of water left. A lot more foot traffic heading up to the lake when we were heading out. Back at the parking lot at 10:30am and lot was full with cars circling to find a spot. Easy hike-the elevation gain comes right before the lake.

Absolutely love this trail! The views all the way to the top were breathtaking, especially since the leaves had begun to change.

Couple of things to plan for:

- The first part of the hike and the last stretch up to the top are deceivingly steep. Be prepared!

- There are no trashcans, so think about what you are going to do with your trash/ dog waste prior to starting!

- There is less parking the longer you wait to get to the trailhead. The early bird gets the worm!

Can’t say enough good things about this trail! It’s a great workout for both people and dogs, with views that can’t be beat! Highly recommend!

off road driving
6 days ago

Very pretty drive in forested area. The lakes were very low, but it looked like very decent camping. Nothing spectacular.

hiking
6 days ago

Great easy, short hike for out of towners with a high reward. Extremely crowded which is to be expected for such an easy hike. I highly recommend continuing up to the glacier for a bit more of a challenge plus some great views.

hiking
7 days ago

Great hike - semi quiet going up around 8:30am - lots of good flat parts with few rocky areas. Good forest, mountain and lake views. Parking near trailhead was full so parked at the Brainard Lake lot (past the pay area) so overall mileage out and back was closer to 7.3-7.5 miles.

we hiked this trail with our 3 and 5 year olds and it was great! easy enough for them to do without complaining. it took us about 25 minutes to get from the trailhead to the lake. the views from the top were beautiful! the actual hike is fine but not particularly scenic and quite a few people which is to be expected for a beautiful Saturday. we will definitely do this hike again!

Seriously way too many cars jeeps and it is 10 bucks to walk down to the water in front of the mill.

Fantastic hike with gorgeous pay off. beautiful the whole way.

This hike was beautiful. Challenging but totally worth it- the scenery was amazing. Definitely bring lots of water and be mindful of the elevation. It’s a popular trail so you will definitely be in company with lots of other hikers along the way. Our dog had a blast as well!

nice short and easy trail with a well worth it view

hiking
8 days ago

Fun and quick trail. It’s a bit rocky and steep, but an easy trip to do for a nice view of the lake. The lake was pretty and there’s a good area to hangout and swim.

hiking
8 days ago

Hiked this beauty on Friday, 9/14. Left Denver at 7am and hit the trail/road by 10:45. The little parking lot beyond the mailboxes was empty! But I DID notice some cars parked on the side of the rugged road leading up to the parking lot, so even if the lot’s full, but you don’t wanna start at the mailboxes (it’s a pretty steep half-mile hike from there to the trailhead), you have options along the way.

The hike itself is super easy-going. There were a few short inclines, but nothing terribly difficult. Otherwise it was relatively flat! I’d rate the hike as easy-moderate due to the distance, but it only took me about an hour and a half to get to the mill, and I stopped quite a bit to take photos!

The road follows the Crystal River which is absolutely gorgeous, and (appropriately) crystal clear. There were some folks rollin by in ATVs, dirt bikes, and even 4x4 trucks and SUVs, but it honestly didn’t bother me that much. Everyone that passed was super courteous and friendly, and you just pull over to the side and take in the view a little more!

The higher elevation aspens had already changed (which were STUNNING), but the trees down along the road and at the mill were not quite there yet - in a week it’ll be PERFECT.

The mill itself is pretty cool - there was a guy who lived in the super tiny town of Crystal that was at the mill to answer any questions. In the little town, there’s a small store and a few homes and cabins.

Overall, a great hike! Was home by 6pm, so if you’re coming from Denver and wanna kill a day, this one’s perfect.

Absolutely gorgeous views for a relatively short hike. The incline makes you work a bit!

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