Crystal Lake Trail

HARD 77 reviews
#11 of 192 trails in

Crystal Lake Trail is a 8.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Breckenridge, Colorado that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
8.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,568 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

fishing

hiking

nature trips

off road driving

walking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

Take Spruce Creek Rd., south of Breckenridge, off Hwy. 9, next to the Goose Pasture Tarn, and follow it to Crystal Creek, off ti the right. Follow the $ wheel drive road to the lower lake.

hiking
1 month ago

There's little on Crystal Peak - that's what I'll concentrate on.

As you are hiking toward Upper Crystal Lake on the single-track trail, you'll see a cairn on the right and a dirt trail. At this point, you're about 0.5 miles from the upper lake. The AllTrails recording reflects the trail with the dashed line.

There is a trail part way to Crystal Peak - to the saddle. You can also see it on google maps satellite.

Turn right, briefly hike up, you'll see one or two more cairns. The trail temporarily disappears as you head left and cross a few rocks - maybe 10 - 15 yards - and you'll pick up the trail again. Trail takes you to the saddle - left is Crystal Peak, right Peak Ten.

As you head to Crystal Peak, there is a semblance of a trail in the beginning. Eventually, it's all rocks - class 2 scramble/limited exposure. Your choice - stick with poles or put them in the backpack and put on your gloves as you climb to the peak.

Gloves came in handy for the rock scramble. Beautiful views!

off road driving
1 month ago

Sep 4, 2018 rode a stock Honda CRF 250L to within 1/4 mile of the upper lake and stopped. Great ride overall. Saw a sheep near the end and stopped to let him graze right to me. Fun! After that I turned around. The upper lake section of trail becomes increasingly difficult for a so-so offroad bike. I was glad to turn around and in fact had some difficulty doing even that since the trail was traversing a steep rocky slope and offered no wider spot to use. Fine FINE ride though to high alpine area. Getting to the lower lake was a piece of cake (and I saw a decent mule deer buck on the way there). I went early on a week day and there was no one else there.

2 months ago

This was not difficult. We did Baldy Peak the day before and that was difficult. I’d put this in he moderate side. This trail spends a lot of time on a Jeep road with decently packed rocks. I always forget we can drive up much higher to the Trail head than getting caught with all the traffic at spruce lake to Mohawk Trail Heads.

Crystal lakes gives you jeep roads, thru the forest, above tree line to the truly crystal clear lakes. Now I understand how they get their names. They are beautiful lakes. We went up to the second lake. Once at the first lake, take the trail to the right to go tot the second lake. Don’t be fooled by the trails you can see on your top left, it’s just a turn around.

Going up to the second lake took 46-51 minutes more. We had our 11 and 12 year old with us. There was one part up to the second lake where we slowed bc of elevation. But you’re soon there and it well worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

These lakes are stunning.
The parking was full so we parked about 1/2 a mile down from the trailhead.
It’s a very strenuous uphill hike up an old Jeep road to Lower Crystal Lake. There are pristine views once beyond the tree line. The lake and surrounding area are beautiful!!
The hike up to Upper Crystal Lake is VERY strenuous and long. Since we started later in the morning, we were the only ones at the lake. Gorgeous!! Yet tiring...
The trail in its entirety took us 5 hours with stops for food and pictures. Would do it again!

hiking
3 months ago

We did this hike as a preparation for a 14-er. This was the easiest trail I found that goes over 13,000. We did not expect much, especially after we understood that the first half is actually along a road. We were pleasantly surprised - the road in the forest was pretty, and the trail has just a perfect slope, very easy both on the way up and down.
There were not many people on the trail.

hiking
4 months ago

I hiked this with two others five days ago; we started around 11:00 and brought no poles or spikes. We parked at the main trailhead so the majority of our hike to Lower Crystal Lake was on a high-clearance 4x4 route through some trees. Luckily, we never had to share the road with a vehicle. Once out of the forest, the scenery opened up to beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the lush basin between them.

Some of the stream/runoff crossings seemed inundated and we had to search for alternate routes, which were present and seemingly established. The lower lake turned out to be a great place to recharge a bit and assess the route ahead.

The weather seemed ever in our favor and we even saw a few groups of hikers descending the Crystal Lake trail, so we pushed on. The trail up the mountainside was mostly straightforward. There were some spots containing scree and a few snow drifts to cross. Only two or three smaller segments of the trail had steeper drop-offs down the mountain, but nothing alarming.

The snow was soft but not terribly slushy on the ascent. Except for the last one, the snow crossings did not alarm me due to the gradual incline of the mountainside, the short length of snow heading down it, and the many footprints etching out a route. The final snow drift, closest to the talus field before Crystal Lake, was dangerous, however. It was not well traveled and the snow ran steeply down the entire mountain. It did not seem to be a good place to slip and sinking feet immediately raised hairs on the back of necks. We noted this and decided not to linger long at the upper lakes to not have to cross slushy snow at this spot on the descent.

After this crossing, it was evident that few had recently pushed passed it. Closer to the lake the westerly trail was covered in deeper snow so we took to traversing the exposed talus down and across a shallow valley towards the south-westerly trail to the lake.

Crystal Lake was serene but the show belonged to the views over the cliffs to the east. We took in the entire valley, including much of the trail, and mountain vistas far beyond. Absolutely breathtaking and calm, it was almost as if we were part of a landscape painting up there.

Besides the sketchy snow drift, which had had become slushier around 15:00 during our return, the descent was easy and safe. I was happy to have that crossing behind me early on and upon reflection, I wished that we had a safety rope with us for it.

Overall there was little mud on the entire trail and even higher water to cross after Lower Crystal Lake. Gorgeous hike and a lot of fun, but be weary of the highest snow drift and prepare accordingly if you decide to go sometime soon.

4 months ago

Amazing views. Made it to Lower Lake with only a few difficult knee deep drifts of snow to get through. Lake was still half-iced over. Made to 1/2 mile of Upper Lake before turning back due to too difficult to pass snow drifts on the side of the mountain. Over the next few weeks it looks like mud on the trail will be bad based on the amount of running water and snow still on the trail. Still worth the trip. Made it as far as we did without poles or spikes

hiking
10 months ago

Accidentally went too far up Spruce Creek Road and missed the turn off to Crystal Creek Road. Cut back over on the Wheeler trail, which proved to be a gentler incline overall (for anyone looking for a less steep ascent). Made it about a half mile from lower crystal lake, at which point snow shoes were probably necessary (post-holing at least a couple of feet), and then promptly turned around when a bull moose entered the trail. The snow was too deep for bushwhacking around him, but views of the mountain ranges were pretty on the way back down. I know it’s tempting to allow your dogs off leash, but be careful out there with wildlife!

11 months ago

Great hike. I would recommend wearing snow shoes past the lake. Snow was somewhat compacted but some spots not so much and the snow was past my knees at some points

hiking
Friday, September 29, 2017

Hiked up today with surprise blue skies. We took the steeper road off to the right toward cabin. It's a good climb at that elevation, esp for us folks from sea level Seattle but well worth it !! Beautiful peaks right in front of you!! Pretty lake. Fantastic. Snow at the top and probably near the end of the season for this hike! Thanks beautiful Colorado ❤️

backpacking
Saturday, September 09, 2017

We combined Crystal Lakes with Mohawk Lakes for a nice overnight hike; staying the night near Lower Crystal. Although "busy" for the holiday weekend Lower Crystal was still very serene. Great sunrise/sunset. We didn't make it to Crystal Peak as planned, but the trail looked like a good challenge.

hiking
Monday, August 21, 2017

My 11 year old son and I did this trail in combination with Burro Trail and Warriors Mark trail from Warriors Mark neighborhood in Breckenridge. Long, but a lot of fun. didn't make it to the second Lake as it started snowing and sleeting.

backpacking
Monday, July 17, 2017

Came up for an overnight trip. Hiked from the trail head to the first lake which is beautiful and perfect camping spot by itself. The journey to the upper lake is a very tough but rewarding 2 extra miles of uphill rocks. Poles are very helpful here. Once at the top the views are staggering. We had the whole upper lake to ourselves for the evening. Plenty of flat areas but very rocky. I wouldn't recommend camping out up here without some serious ground pads. All and all the hike was difficult but very rewarding. The views from the top are incredible. Would have given it 5 stars if I could have found a suitable place to camp without a ton of rocks. Lots of fun though!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tough climb but absolutely worth the effort!

off road driving
Thursday, July 06, 2017

Great trips. Drove up twice over the 4th week in my slightly lifted FJ Cruiser without any difficulty. Can only off-Road to the lower lake and up into the lose rocks to the south now. The hiking trail all the way up to the top is clear enough to make it on foot, but the off-road access is blocked. It doesn't look like a truck has been past the lower lake in years. This is a great hiking and off-road trail. Good to share the road.

backpacking
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Great trail still some snow at the upper lake but you can still get up there. Also the hike up to crystal peak was great and so were the views. Only saw one other group at the lower lake. Would bring hiking poles and waterproof boots there are so street crossings where you could get wet. Overall great hike and a hidden gem.

hiking
Saturday, June 17, 2017

We live close about a mile away..Had not yet gone all the way up to Crystal Lake..Still Lots of snow on way up near the end..We made it up in 2 hours and down in one with just a bottle of water and a couple sandwiches...no spikes, just regular hiking boots and I have my 8 year old with me...Ended up home just now with soaking wet feet..you lose the path on way up where all the snow is and we decided to just walk though the river on the way back as a short cut..we were already soaked...not a hike this time of the year for the squirmish...

hiking
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Beautiful, and way less busy than Mohawk lakes. The steep 4x4 road turned me off a bit at the beginning but it was well worth pushing through that

Monday, June 12, 2017

Very fun hike, lots of wildlife and wildflowers, and pretty challenging in parts. Having microspikes made our lives easier towards the higher elevations, but not a necessity. We found a really nice campsite near the falls about 3/4 the way up and set up shop. It was very peaceful up there, and would definitely recommend it to backpackers of all skill levels.

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Difficult trail but beautiful view at the top, even saw some mountain goats!!

hiking
Monday, June 12, 2017

Nice hike! It took the group I was in about three hours to ascend, and about an hour to descend. There was still a lot of snow at the higher elevations. Some of it was packed, and much of it was deceptively soft so you would walk a few steps on packed snow, then sink sometimes very deep into slush. That will take your energy very quickly. The sun was out and I only needed a light jacket at the beginning and for a half an hour at the top where the temp dropped quickly (to me) when wind rushed down from the close peaks.

The lake was still mostly frozen, and no hiker the group encountered was going to bother with the upper lake since it would be even more frozen. I rated it as 4 stars because of the lake still being frozen. Just my preference.
Instagram; sirenamusic for photos.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Don't miss the turn up to the peak. If u make it to the upper lake you've gone too far.

Very pretty hike. Did it solo. Took 2hr 45 up and 1hr down.

hiking
Wednesday, October 05, 2016

It was uphill the entire hike in and the last half mile is pretty much straight up the side of a mountain but it was totally worth it. We stopped at the falls which is right before you have to go up the mountain and they were gorgeous. The lake at the end of the trail is so worth the trek. The views are amazing!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Very nice alpine hike. At the beginning passes through a pretty spruce forest, so no beetle killed trees around. Hiked this from Francies Cabin October 1st and you quickly move into alpine meadows. If not going all the way to the upper lake then just go a few switchbacks above the first lake for outstanding views, including a classic and very impressive rock glacier.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Really quite stunning once you get above the tree line. Second lake is VERY high and the trail flirts with 13,000ft. Among the best non-summit hikes I've ever done- it's a 4x4 road much of the way that might turn off some but, the reward 1st and 2nd lakes are soooooooooo worth it

hiking
Sunday, September 18, 2016

Very steep first mile or so but don't be put off because after that it's a steadier climb to superb views across the valley and lovely lake settings. Very quiet even on a beautiful Fall Saturday - we saw just 10 people and 2 vehicles on the whole route.

hiking
Friday, September 16, 2016

Good trail, fairly steep the whole way but pretty short. Great lake once you get up there. A lot less crowded than Mohawk Lakes out of same trailhead.

off road driving
Wednesday, August 03, 2016

8/3/16- Scenery and the lake are beautiful. The trail itself is difficult and narrow for a moderate 4x4 trail. There were several other vehicles and hikers even on a Monday and Tuesday but some open camping areas at the top and along the road leading up to the lake.

I drive a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a 3" lift and 32" tires and this trail definitely maxed that out in some parts.

Fishing was okay, nothing over 9".

off road driving
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Such a blast! I took up my Jeep Wrangler and could not have had a better experience. 4WD is definitely needed. I did not have any issues with clearance with my vehicle but be weary of it. Have fun!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hard but the most incredible views I've ever seen. Take mosquito repellant for when you get up to the lake

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