Crow Pass Trail to Crystal Lake and Barnes Mountain

HARD 67 reviews
#8 of 41 trails in

Crow Pass Trail to Crystal Lake and Barnes Mountain is a 6.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Girdwood, Alaska that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

6.2 miles
1,958 feet




nature trips






no dogs

Alaska Division of Tourism, P.O. Box 110801 , Juneau, AK, 99811-0801, Phone: 907-465-2010

1 day ago

Absolutely gorgeous trail. I’m a beginner and found this to be super hard with all the incline but I pushed through it anyways. Highly recommend! Didn’t see any wildlife but the trails were in great shape.

8 days ago

Not the best weather today but still very pretty. Hiked up to the lake and back down. The trail is very straight forward until the split and either way means crossing some snow melt run off which could mean wet feet if not creative enough. Windy but absolutely beautiful views all the way up.

10 days ago

Great trail and incredible views. It was crowded due to the holiday weekend but it didn’t detract from the experience. When the trail splits, the one to the right is an easier climb (less steep) but a bit longer. The glacier is another 0.3-0.5 miles past the cabin. Saw a goat on the far side of the river as we returned. Bring plenty of water, it was very warm the entire time we hiked. Still had snow at the top.

13 days ago

Did this hike on our last full day in Alaska (Saturday June 30th). Arrived at the parking lot around 10 and it was full with a very loud group of maybe 30 teenage church group kids. That alone almost made me leave as the last thing I wanted to deal with was listening to them all the way up. Luckily we made off on the trail quickly before them and I think they took the lower path while we went for the upper.

The hike up was super foggy. Like 100ft visibility at best. We didn’t see the cabin from the path or anything more than a few feet out. But once we hit the crest coming over to raven glacier the sky opened up. It was pretty amazing and stopped us in our tracks. We proceeded to hike out to a great viewing point to have our lunch. We didn’t see another person for quite some time and even when we did they were hundreds of feet away from us, so it was still very peaceful.

We explored the area for maybe and hour or a little more before heading back down. On the return the fog had lifted quite a bit and it was like an entirely new trail. We now saw the lake, the cabin, the gorge below. None of this was visible on the way up and it was really cool to see all this “new” terrain appear. I hope to return someday to do the entire path to eagle river.

16 days ago

DO THIS HIKE! One of my favorite hikes I've done in Alaska and that's saying a lot. There's just something really special about this one. This took me about 3 hours round trip. I'm a more experienced hiker but also couldn't stop taking pictures. There was snow (06/28/18) once you get to the top but very doable in hiking boots.
This upper trail/lower trail thing was way less clear than I had anticipated so I thought I would clear some things up. Nothing is labeled upper/lower. There is a sign for the mines to go straight or Crow Pass (I think) to the right. I went right/up because I expected a label. I realized what had happened on the way back and many people apparently knew what I didn't by going on the lower one. You just follow the mine trail and continue straight when it veers to the mines. But honestly... I would do it the way that I did it again. Also, Crow Pass doesn't actually even start until after the cabin when you're at the top- just in case that was confusing as well.

25 days ago

Hiked up to glacier and it was great. We went the lower trail(stay left) and came back down via the upper trail. Make sure you come prepared with the right gear(rain and cold weather) and bring a can of bear spray. We saw one black bear across the river and Dall sheep. Still a lot of snow up by the cabin and on the upper trail. I’d recommend trekking poles if traversing the upper trail.
Great hike!

26 days ago

I did this in mid June, no snow shoes. Started out in shorts, bundled up before reaching the glacier, as the temperature dropped about 30°. Extremely windy and cold at the top, rainy at the bottom. I took the high trail and it was very steep and quite terrifying; easy to slip on the rocks or snow patches. Next time I will take the lower trail. Coming back was much easier, saw the gold mine ruins.

1 month ago

Still a lot of snow. Lower path was difficult to find at times, but looked to be the easier route. Was able to make it to the hut and back. Great hike!

For the thru hikers, the pass is a snow field and probably won't be easily traversable for another month without snow shoes.

1 month ago

Had to turn around at mile 1 due to snow and our unpreparedness to hike in those conditions. The trail offered beautiful views and we saw many mountain goats in the distance. We were the only ones on the trail which made it so peaceful. Wish we could have hiked the whole thing because the pictures look beautiful.

8 months ago

Got up to crystal lake and crows pass cabin. Snowing and windy. Used crampons. Still beautiful scenery and will be back in the summertime

9 months ago

9 months ago

After spending a year and a half hiking AK this was the most beautiful hike I've found.

10 months ago

It was super foggy and raining all the way up and down , but it was worth it ! Lake is super wee and so lovely , we could hardly see the glacier but again , not bad at all ! Go for it

11 months ago

There are two ways to get up this trail. If you are feeling good and in good shape you can go left and take the steep way up which is a lot faster. Otherwise you can go right at the top and take the zig zags across. There were a lot of rocks at the top. It was pretty overcast and rainy when I went so it was a bit slippery. There are two small streams you have to cross before reaching the lake. There are a lot of rocks though so you don't have to worry about getting your feet too wet if you're not wearing waterproof shoes. There's a beautiful clear blue lake at the top. Overall this is a great hike. I would highly recommend wearing the right hiking boots if you plan on doing this trail.

11 months ago

Great trail, with some awesome viewpoints. Not that hard to do. Water falls, wild goats.

11 months ago

It was pretty foggy, and still was an awesome trail. Highly recommend to keep going a bit after the crow pass sing, there is a great viewpoint on the glacier about 10-15 min walk from there.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

7 July 17 - great trail. Great views. Turn around point is pretty much at the cabin by crystal lake. Bring bug spray.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Great Trail, lake is beautiful and wonderful waterfalls.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Great trail have done it twice now!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

We did this hike this morning, in the rain. There is still a lot of snow on the trail in places. It was slow going. There were some other hikers with overnight gear, intent on spending a few days up there. It looked like they were in a for a cool night. I'd give this trail a couple more weeks of sunshine, before expecting a relatively dry trail.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Beginning of the crow pass trail to Eagle River gorgeous sites and wildlife!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Beautiful! Dress warm!! It's was freezing at the glacier, very strong winds when I went yesterday. Amazing hike

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Great hike!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Even though it had rained for 3 weeks prior and during the 2 days we were out, I had an amazing experience. Equal parts incredible natural beauty, abject terror, and pain. Much of the Eagle River side trail was washed out, bridges missing, thick mud, etc. We survived it all and gained a great sense of accomplishment.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Great hike with amazing views. The only thing difficult about this hike is the distance and the number of water crossings where you are likely to get your feet wet.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Great a lot of loose rocks

Saturday, July 09, 2016

It was a great trail. went in June, hardly any snow left and that river was passable. Black bears a plenty with cubs so make noise in wooded areas.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Totally worth it. If you've been thinking about hiking this at all, just do it! I've heard that this through hike can be done in a day but why would you want to? Take at least 2 days (1 night) and enjoy the amazing scenery. I've lived in AK my whole life and I've done a lot of hiking and this IS the hike you've been looking for. Start on the easier Girdwood side. You'll hike up into Crow Pass (3hr to the top of the pass at a mellow pace). Hiking down into the valley you are greeted with glaciers, the spectacular Raven George, and a lush, meandering river bed. This section was by far the best. You are still mostly above the brush line and get the best views and (of course) hiking down hill. Keep in mind that there isn't really any good access to water until you are up and over the pass (about 5 hrs in). By the end of the first day (about 12ish miles in) you come up to the main river crossing (the ford site). Many people camp here and cross the river the next morning. We chose to cross that night because our core temps were up, the water level was relatively low, and the camp sites on the Eagle River side of the river are much better. If the water is low enough, just get it out of the way. Two more miles after the river ford is a perfect campsite with good access to water and lots of dry, downed wood. The next day is all the Eagle River side that is mostly flat with some more, smaller river crossings on primitive bridges. Depending on the water levels you may have to take the high water route (harder/slower) or you might luck out with the low water route. All in all the second day can be a tough push but there are tons of great camping spots and easy access to water if you wanted to camp a second night.
Overall this is a very tough hike that will push your limits especially if you've never done a through hike before. Be very bear aware, be loud, and cary protection. Pack it in, pack it out. *Wear shoes for the river crossing* Bring hiking poles for sure! Great hike for a group. Enjoy!

Monday, June 06, 2016

It was still snow on the upper trail before and after passing Mile 1.8 (Monarch Mine), but it was partial of snow on the lower trail to Mile 1.8. Passing by USFS Cabin on a packed snow trail, there were couples of descending on the snow trails after Crow Pass sign; crossing snow bridge over a stream to avoid a moose and her calves. I was sighting a black bear on the mountain side around 10 pm while crossing the stream to go back to the main trail... The trail was well marked after crossing the small stream all the way to Eagle River Nature Center.
P.S. Crossing the river - the water was about waist high, but some spots were about knee high while crossing it. The water was super cold. Bring your water shoes to protect your feet from cold water. It was awesome for backpacking trail!

Saturday, May 28, 2016


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