Explore Spring 2018 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Spring 2018 Map
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hiking
18 days ago

Long hike filled with rolling hills and great views. This trail is a heavily trafficked atv road but everyone was very respectful of hikers. The hike is more than worth the reward as Crysatl Mill is an unbelievable sight.

hiking
26 days ago

First hike in the snow! Just us and one other couple on the trail. Lots of animal tracks and beautiful scenery!

Me and my two dogs hiked this today. We started at 8 AM and it took 2 1/2 hours to get up there. The hike was so beautiful I kept stopping to take pictures. This might have been the prettiest hike I’ve ever been on! I highly recommend this hike

hiking
2 months ago

My two coworkers and I did this hike last Sunday (9/30), and it may have been one of the prettiest treks we have ever done!

It took us about 4 and 1/2 hours to complete this hike (including 30 minutes of leisure time at the Mill while having lunch/swimming) after driving up from Denver to Marble.

As everyone has stated in their previous reviews, the amount of Jeep/ATV traffic was a bit frustrating at times, but we didn't let that deter us from enjoying our perfect day!

The road up to the trailhead is unpaved, but if you have a vehicle with decently high clearance, you can eliminate about 0.6 miles of hiking (roundtrip) by parking in the area at the top of the hill.

This was a very moderate hike that runs along the Crystal River for the vast majority of the trek. The fall colors were in full bloom as well, which made this one of the most beautiful hikes to take in Colorado’s magnificent foliage.

Once you get the Mill, there is a $10 per person fee to go under the rope and view it from the water (which we did), but you can also view it from the roped off section on the road. I would highly suggest this option, as we had lunch on a rock next to the waterfall and I even jumped in to cool off!

All in all, this is one of the more rewarding hikes I have ever done in terms of scenery. The only reason I gave this trek 4 stars instead of 5 was the amount of traffic on the road. Would definitely return sometime during the week when the trail is a bit less congested. A must do for anyone in the area!

hiking
2 months ago

I agree with other hikers. While I’m so happy I did this 10 mile hike, the atv’s, SUV’s and dirt bikes were super frustrating. Lots of dust and traffic, not foot traffic. I’d suggest going from the other side, via Crested Butte. That’ll be my plan for next fall. Crystal was so cute and I’m happy we got to see it. My black lab was in paradise the whole way! Lots of swimming opportunities

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike. Starting at the mailboxes is approximatly 10 miles roundtrip. Only four stars because of all the atv and 4x4 traffic. The dust and constantly moving out of the way gets very annoying. Amazing views and a beautiful mill. The little town of crystal is beautiful as well.

hiking
2 months ago

Very beautiful views and the end was great, but the constant car traffic added at least an hour to our hike. Each ATV or motorbike or Jeep that passed kicked up a bunch of dirt and dust too. Be prepared to pull over on narrow roads to make room for the vehicle traffic or go on a weekday where there is less traffic.

hiking
2 months ago

Somewhat difficult if not in shape or lowlander. Views were gorgeous south pines and aspens. 2 areas of scree to maneuver but just take your time and don't rush. Remember to start down before sun starts to set for light on the way down.

2 months ago

Did this hike on 9/22/18. The mill is beautiful, especially with the foliage this time of year. The trail is actually a 4x4 road, with loose gravel that can be a little tough on the feet if not wearing proper hiking footwear. After the initial access road the hike isn’t too challenging with a mixture of inclines and declines.
The only reason for not giving 5 stars is the amount of vehicle traffic and in particular amateur 4x4 drivers. Non stop jeeps/4x4s, atvs, and dirt bikes and the majority were very inexperienced, making it really dangerous at times for hikers. I was told it’s WAY better to go during the week with much less vehicle traffic

off road driving
2 months 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.

One of my favorite hikes. Perfect time right now with gold aspen leaves. The first 6 switchbacks thru the Aspens are worth it and then the climb thru the pines and meadows is even better. Be on bear alert.

hiking
2 months 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
2 months 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/

2 months ago

Beautiful but 4 wheelers were a distraction.

hiking
2 months 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.

2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

Tough trail, definitely a beautiful lake. Not sure I’d need to do it again.

hiking
2 months 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.

mountain biking
3 months ago

Great Mtn trail. My normal ride goes from the top of chair 11 to the eagle bahn. Light traffic on trail.

A great trail, but be prepared for some elevation gain. There was a mix of aspen stands and conifer forest. The lake is beautiful and totally worth the time spent on the trail.

It was a great hike but next time would take ATV. Hike was very hot but beautiful.

Up hill most of the way up. Switchbacks galore. Challenging but great little hike, saw lots of wildlife. Be aware, it’s hunting season. Throw on some orange!

trail running
3 months ago

Lots and lots to see. Great trail running. Lots of wild flowers and herbs...

hiking
3 months ago

My wife, 9yo son and 6yo daughter climbed to the 2.5mi high point (about 11,400ft) on the trail, which affords views in three directions. Some complaining from my daughter on the initial steep section and I cop to giving her a few shoulder rides, but all in all a good family hike. By late-August wild flowers are well past the peak. We spotted a pika carrying brush, two red-tailed hawks, and a mule deer with small velvety antlers. Damming the stream was a good diversion. My daughter concludes, “it was fun.” Success!

3 months ago

Really enjoyed this hike. Got to the trailhead at the mailboxes at 7 am and were at the mill by 9am. Had it mostly to ourselves! Not much traffic until after 10 am, so recommend getting there early if you don't want to encounter atv and 4 wheel traffic.

hiking
3 months ago

What a beautiful hike. We parked at the cluster of mailboxes. We had a nice conversation with a worker at the shop in Crystal and learned that the family owns much of the river on both sides between Marble and Crystal. Bring plenty of water and wear really sturdy footwear. We went on a weekday which was nice. I’d guess we were passed by 20 motorcycles, 10 cars and 15 ATV’s during our 7 hour leisurely hike. 1st mile is pretty steep.

hiking
4 months ago

Hike was good. Good footwear needed- kinda rocky. Beautiful scenery with majestic peaks. Make sure to bring sunscreen- in the heat of the day there isn’t much shade. Only downside is the occasional passing vehicles- not too much of a problem, but we had our two dogs and had to step off to the side any time a truck or ATV passed. A bit dusty too but worth it! They do charge to swim at the Crystal Mill but there are plenty of spots to stop off for a quick dip or refresher along the stream. The hike took us about 6 hours with stopping for lunch and pics at the Crystal mill, and letting our dogs take numerous river dips. Bring water shoes if you can and you’ll really enjoy going in on your own accord.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike the entire way. It took us 3.5 hours round trip. Well worth the effort. Just a friendly reminder to bring moleskin for blisters!

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked it today with family, 4 hrs round trip including 30 mins for lunch, vertical comes at you fast in first hour, but manageable if you stay aerobic. This was my fourth or fifth time hiking American Lake, great for our first day, family in from East Coast, I came from the Okanagan in Canada. Certainly not one of the prettiest alpine lakes I have hiked to, in my opinion if the American Lake hike workout is your goal, do Cathedral instead

on Crystal Mill

hiking
4 months ago

Best money ever spent. Hire Smitty‘ Jeep tours to take you to Geneva Lake trail head and hike that amazing hike then hike down the three miles to Crystal Mill and get picked up. I did this on a Monday and there was not much atv or jeep traffic.

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