Crystal Lakes Trail is a 14.5 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 and horses and is best used from May until September. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 14.5 miles Elevation Gain: 3,097 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

horseback riding

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, May 28. Reservations will be available to enter the park from June 4 through July 31. The next release will be on July 1, for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days that have not been booked for August. On September 1, reservations will be available for the month of October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability between 6 a.m. through 5 p.m. This process will facilitate advance payment of entrance fees, minimize contact between park entrance station staff and visitors and limit congestion in parking lots. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park. In the initial opening phase, the park will open approximately 60 percent of the park’s maximum parking capacity or 4,800 vehicles (13,500 visitors) per day.

hiking
snow
7 days ago

Was able to go till Lawn Lake with regular shoes but the last 2 miles were very snowy. Couldn’t consider going up Crystal Lake given the amount of snow

hiking
8 months ago

Would rate this trail moderate instead of hard, it’s sustained by give plenty of opportunities to break. Do the extra 2-4 miles to the Crystal Lakes, it’s worth it!

hiking
8 months ago

If you are going to lawn lake this is a must. Crystal lakes are one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen multiple lakes that are a glacier runoff which means they are all crystal clear. Plenty of yellow tailed marmots everywhere. This is a very fun not to challenging trail the incline isn’t that bad due to how long the trail is highly recommend if you’re in the Rockies. Took us about 7 hours total walking and relaxing at the top.

hiking
8 months ago

We did this after revisiting Lawn Lake! It was a hard hike to get to them but worth it once we got there. The trail seemed to be leading up over the ridge and we nearly gave up once or twice as we were tired after the trek to Lawn Lake. Glad we pushed on as it was lovely once we got there. Took us about an hour to get there from Lawn Lake and some of the trail was overgrown and other bits were a bit soggy!! Legs got a bit scratched as I was wearing shorts but not unbearably so! I think we missed most of the flowers but could see the potential beauty. A quiet trail and we saw 1 guy taking photos and a couple fishing at the lakes, we then bumped into a guy as we walked back to Lawn Lake! We set off at 7.20 am from TH and got back there at 4.30 pm but we did dawdle and took lots of pics! Probably would have done it quicker if my foot didn’t start playing up and my other half’s knee wasn’t hurting!! 3 hours to Lawn Lake, 1 hour to crystal and another hour down, then nearly 3 hours back from Lawn to TH! Great hike though, worth the pain!!! Lol

hiking
8 months ago

Hiked on Weds 9/6. Started at 7am. plenty of parking at TH when I arrived and when I was done. Saw hardly anyone except for a couple of people who had camped at Lawn Lake, and a few hikers when i was heading down. Definitely push past Lawn Lake to Crystal Lakes. The wildflowers were still pretty abundant, there were moose down in the drainage area and the views were great. Will come back another time to hike The Saddle trail...or maybe even to camp. RT was definitely 16 miles...plus .2 for my wandering feet probably. And, agree about long pants. I wore shorts and did fine, but you do have to push through a bunch of willows after Lawn Lake.

hiking
10 months ago

Trail to Crystal Lakes from Lawn is fairly easy to follow but muddy at times but often avoidable with very shallow running water on trail at times that meander through low brush willows. Wildflowers at their prime, particularly closer to Lawn. After getting to the upper Crystal Lake the feeder stream and falls to Lawn is worth exploring. Bugs were prevalent, but not an issue with spray. Saw 2 other people at Crystal Lakes while exploring the rocks/falls.

hiking
over grown
rocky
snow
10 months ago

Great backpacking hike! If you plan far enough in advance and book your campsites, this is a great place to go. Going in is a steady incline all the way. Our second day we passed Lawn Lake and planned to hike to the saddle and up to Mount Fairchild but had to stop because of a storm. Amazing area to explore, with mixed terrain. Saw plenty of marmots up by Lawn Lake.

hiking
10 months ago

excellent conditions. not much snow. Flowers are prime. fantastic day. and nobody's up there

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked 07/13/19. Great trail mostly in the woods for about 5.7 miles, but with some nice views here and there until it opens nicely with great views. Clear to Lawn with a few steam xings and snowfields to get to Crystal Lakes, but nothing major. Lots of flying critters at Crystal (fresh meat for them!) so we didn't stay too long, gorgeous setting with no other visitors out there. Mileage is more like 16 miles total.

hiking
muddy
snow
Sun May 12 2019

hiking
Sun Sep 17 2017

Yeah, what Catherine S. said.

hiking
Thu Aug 10 2017

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 patches. 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 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.

hiking
Sat Aug 05 2017

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.

hiking
Fri Jun 30 2017

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.

Sat Jun 03 2017

Beautiful trail. Not too many people this far out.

hiking
Mon Feb 13 2017

Love this hike. There was hardly anyone around.

Tue Oct 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.

hiking
Fri Jul 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.

hiking
Mon Jun 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.

hiking
Tue Jun 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.

hiking
Tue Sep 15 2015

Well worth the hike

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8 days ago

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