Crystal Lakes Trail

HARD 17 reviews
#52 of 145 trails in

Crystal Lakes Trail is a 15 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Estes Park, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and horses and is best used from May until September. Horses are also able to use this trail.

15.0 miles
3038 feet
Out & Back



horseback riding




wild flowers


no dogs

2 months ago

Yeah, what Catherine S. said.

4 months ago

Hiked Sunday August 6th

Past Lawn Lake, a level and narrow unimproved trail meanders through forest. It is easy to follow, but we did have to wade through bushes (often head-height) on several occasions and navigate wet and muddy patches (usually concurrent with the bushwhacking). The trail begins to climb once on the far side of the lake, and the muddy, bushy sections continue as the trail heads for treeline. Definitely recommend wearing pants and long sleeves if you don't already. It passes some lovely waterfalls and scores of wildflowers and affords great views of the peaks to the north. Once well above treeline, it switchbacks once to the right and reaches the Saddle/Crystal Lakes split, marked by a sign. We continued up to the Saddle first, and detoured to Crystal Lakes on our way back down.

It is a short and relatively easy half-mile to Crystal Lakes left from the junction. The trail heads downhill and through some bushes and rises again as it approaches Little Crystal Lake. The trail then skirts the left side of the small lake and continues on a somewhat rocky trail down to Big Crystal Lake. The vantage point where the trail ends is already good, but some judicious (and fun!) rock hopping allowed us to sit on a large boulder out from the shore. It was close to noon by this time, and still we saw only two others at Little Crystal Lake and no others at the larger lake. It was not windy or cold, but storm clouds were beginning to roll in, so we headed down soon after arriving. Passed many more people still heading up the trail when we left, mostly between Lawn Lake and the TH. We also saw two bull moose in some tall grasses on the side of the trail above treeline.

Note that the distance to the larger lake is actually about 16 miles RT.

Crystal Lakes might have become one of my new favorite areas in the park—just absolutely beautiful and much more secluded than many other destinations.

4 months ago

Found most early day hikers rested and then returned back down the trail. This is a long hike just to see just a pretty mountain lake with history. If you hike up just beyond Lawn Lake, you are greeted with a spectacular swath of wildflowers that follow you up the trail with Mummy Mtn. serving as a granite backdrop. Unfortunately it was a hazy day. The flower show picks up again as you enter the wetland around the lakes. Saw spawning cutthroat in big Crystal Lake, was approached by a very inquisitive marmot, and had my first close encounter with a moose coming out of the scrub where the trail meets the dam levee.
It is a long 16.5 and 3700' gain hike, but it is a hike that gets away from the throngs on other trails.

4 months ago

5 months ago

Did this trail as a long, day hike yesterday but this trail is actually 16.5 miles instead of 15 as the app states. Was still quite a bit of snow to walk through the last half mile. It wasn't hard packed so it was pretty slick but it was ok with just hiking shoes. The trail was also pretty wet most of the way between Lawn Lake and Crystal Lakes so expect to get a little wet. Started snowing while I was up there. The wild flowers were beautiful right now. Only saw a few other people on the trail past about 4 miles in. Stunning scenery and views around the lakes. Saw lots of marmots and deer and one huge elk. Pretty good elevation gain but gradual throughout the entire hike so not too hard.

6 months ago

6 months ago

Beautiful trail. Not too many people this far out.

6 months ago

8 months ago

9 months ago

Love this hike. There was hardly anyone around.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Great hike and view. The views get spectacular once you get about a mile to Crystal lake. The trail gains altitude gradually and is easy to your knees hiking back to the TH.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

This was a long day hike and we saw others who hiked in to stay overnight. Nice trail to Lawn Lake and then it becomes a little more difficult as the trail narrows and goes through water and shrubs. We saw Greenback Trout in Crystal lake. No snow on the trail at all today. Total distance round trip to Crystal lake and back to the trailhead was 16.1 miles according to my Garmin GPS watch.

Monday, June 27, 2016

One of the most beautiful hikes in the RMNP. Snow free for most of the part. There is some snow/overflowing stream which make it tough to follow the trail to the Crystal lake and the Saddle.
We made it to The Saddle and almost to the Fairchild Mountain. Strenuous hike with 4200 feet elevation gained in a return trip of over 20 miles. But definitely worth the awesome views. Rarely saw people after the Golden Banner fork.
I would highly recommend staying late to view the valley when the sun starts fading away. Got the best views in the evening.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Great hike!!! Once past Lawn Lake the trail is a little hard to follow with the snow cover. Well worth the hike. My wife took her Garmin step counter and racked up 21954 steps just to the top.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Well worth the hike