Crystal Mill is a 9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Carbondale, Colorado that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 9.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,391 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

off road driving

trail running

forest

river

views

wildlife

muddy

rocky

historic site

Leave about 4 and 1/2 hours to complete this hike (including 30 minutes of leisure time at the Mill while having lunch or swimming). As many of our users have mentioned in their reviews, the amount of Jeep/ATV traffic can be a bit frustrating at times. 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 is a very moderate hike that runs along the Crystal River for the vast majority of the trek. The fall colors are beautiful, and summer is a great time to swim. Once you get the Mill, there is a $10 per person fee to go under the rope and view it from the water but, you can also view it from the roped off section on the road.

hiking
8 days ago

Hiked this on a Monday so only saw about 10 vehicles. Pleasant hike on road with great views along the way. The “store” at the end mostly has t-shirts and non perishable snacks (crackers and candy etc).

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
16 days ago

05/16/2019 - no parking or park fee - park on road not a lot of parking - first 0.6 miles is very steep for ATV or high clearance vehicle. - had to cross 3 avalanche hills when hiked in 05/15/2019. - used fallen logs as hiking pole because it’s slippery on the avalanche hills. - the trail is rocky. - muddy near the lizard lake during 05/16/2019 - people mentioned you can pay cash to go closer to the river at the end.

hiking
16 days ago

It’s 4.5 miles from Marble to Crystal Mill as trail map shows. The entire trail is open and drivable. The road is narrow so you have to watch carefully for oncoming and it is very rocky. The road was down for a period because of a vehicle blowout while we were there. We saw several jeeps and trucks driving it as well. There are atv and side by side rentals in marble which we will use if we go back. We drove our Jeep about a half mile to the top of the hill at the beginning and hiked in from there. It is a beautiful hike all the way. With the spring melt the river was very high and really something to see. The mill was really something to see as well. There are a few buildings just past the mill. A book store selling gifts including soft drinks and snacks. It took us about 1.5 hours to hike each way.

hiking
18 days ago

I hiked this for the first time 9 years ago before Marble or Crystal Mill were well known. It was the most beautiful and incredible hike I’d done that year. Unfortunately, Marble has become quite the hotspot for Jeep tours, ATV rentals, and dirt bikes. This makes hiking to the Mill radically different than I experienced 9 years ago. We had to get to the very edge of the road every ten minutes to let a Jeep or ATV pass. A reckless dirt biker nearly hit all four of us due to their ridiculous speed and carelessness on the trail. There are so many Jeeps and ATVs going by you as a hiker that it kind of ruins the joy of the hike. We didn’t see any wildlife but weren’t surprised since the ridiculous noise of the Jeeps and the ATVs ruined the silence I once experienced there 9 years ago. I get that Colorado has been hyper-commercialized and that I need to deal with it, but they AT LEAST need to use permits for vehicle/motor bike trail use. We learned from the owner of the Mill that on a peak summer Saturday in 2018 there were FIVE HUNDRED jeeps/ATVs/cars on the trail and they were all unable to move at the same time since most of the trail is a narrow, one way road, so it was complete chaos. TL;DR: this hike isn’t the same as it once was. The Jeep and ATV rentals in Aspen and Marble have ruined this hike for me. If you love hiking and enjoy the peace and calm of being outdoors, this hike isn’t for you due to the stupid commercialization of the Mill.

off road driving
rocky
scramble
washed out
18 days ago

Drove - 06/29/2019 - Amazing Colorado views and unique mill at the top! If you're going to drive it, only do it in a high clearance vehicle. (We used 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD) Only experienced drivers with off-road experience should be driving on the trail. Yes, the dirt bikes were obnoxious and very reckless. In fact, one dirt bike rider rode up to the mill, broke down, went back and got a four-wheeler and wrecked that over an embankment into the river on his way back up. A truck was pulling the four-wheeler up out of the river as we came down. Very narrow trail, not a lot of hikers, but definitely were very courteous of the ones we came across. The generational family that keeps the town of Crystal running was super nice. One household was selling bottled water and canned pop for $3.00. They also have a gift shop with t-shirts. Yes, they do have a company called Crystal River Ranch that gives you the option of going closer to the river for $10 and signing a waiver. Nobody was swimming. Not sure you would want to swim as the rivers are running very high and fast this year. Driving the trail took us an hour or so to get up and about 45-50 minutes to get down.

off road driving
rocky
20 days ago

Made this drive in a stock Chevy Z71, most of the trail is very rocky and narrow, but is manageable if you take it slow. It took about an hour in and an hour back to Marble, but the mill is one of the best places in all of Colorado in my opinion.

hiking
muddy
rocky
23 days ago

With an early start, we managed to get to the mill and part way back before encountering another soul, including ATV’s. The roadway is now clear of avalanche debris, but there is lots of pooling water to dodge, so bring waterproof boots if hiking. The Crystal River is flowing crazy heavy right now, so it made for beautiful scenery and a roar for most of the hike. As others have mentioned, the first half mile is the only steep section, which can also be hard on your toes as the last half mile. It’s also worth noting that there are ropes up at the mill blocking off the private property, and we saw at least one game camera aimed at that area for surveillance, so be respectful.

hiking
27 days ago

Stunning in any season, especially on a bluebird day.

hiking
29 days ago

great hike ! if you can, take a four wheel drive vehicle and cut off that first 0.6 miles, it's steep! after that the trail has some hills nothing crazy and parts of it are water filled. my boyfriend and I are not great hikers by any means and it took us about 4 hours 15 minutes. lightly populated with ATVs and jeeps but not a big deal.

hiking
1 month ago

Incredible trail! Highly recommend! My husband and I hiked it yesterday. We saw the damage from the avalanches that others have talked about. The road was mostly clear, but a little flooded in some areas. The runoff on the road and pools of water were fairly easy to navigate around. The hike offers magnificent views, with the crescendo being a picturesque scene of the abandoned Crystal Mill perched beside the river.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked 6.6.19. No snow shoes or spikes needed, trail was relatively dry, few muddy spots. Trail is a ATV road but not marked very well for Crystal Mill. When you get to marble, head to Beaver lake, the road will become a dirt road. Park before it turns into a 4 wheel drive road just past the lake and begin your hike. There will be two forks in the road. At the first one, take a right toward crystal city, at the second one at lizard lake, take a right. The trail was easily navigated at that point. Was washed out in one area had to avoid the water on the trail, the avalanche damage on three parts of the trail along the way is still visible, but the road has been cleared. Run off season is at its peak. If you go past crystal mill you will reach crystal city where people rent cabins in July, it was closed when we went up.

off road driving
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

My wife and I drove this road today as far as the 2nd avalanche debris field and walked the rest of the way. We parked there as it was looking a bit sketchy as you rounded the corner and the river was doing its best to eat the road. We could have made it, but it was nice to get out and walk the final mile to the mill. The road beyond that spot by the way is actually pretty decent, figures. The road is very rocky for the most part otherwise, and you need high clearance for sure. 4 x 4 is really only needed in a few places but it’s nice to have so you don’t feel like you need to ramp it up. There are several very narrow sections on this road and meeting another truck would present a bit of a situation, with one of those sections perched high above the river that was raging today. We pulled up on a guy who was doing some bank protection in his front end loader. Again, the river seemed to be winning the battle there. Over the next several weeks, that will be an ongoing problem on that section. A little nerve racking when you become eye level with the Crystal River. Once at the mill, the water going over the falls was off the charts today. The confluence of the south fork and north fork of the Crystal meet right at the mill and then pour over the falls. Tons of water right now!! I have seen pics of this iconic Colorado scene so many times , it was nice to finally be standing here to see it in person. And with the volume of water going past it, it’s probably not viewed this way often. We walked a bit further into the little town of Crystal and chatted with a few locals there. One guy who has a little book store there, and is the author of the books he sells, told us this was his 71st year coming to Crystal for the summers!! He told us it cost the locals there quite a bit of money to get the road opened this year due to the heavy snows from last winter. We wanted to walk a bit further up into the Lead Basin area, or the South Fork road but I wondered about the river and its undying efforts to claim the road and strand people, so we started back. Once at the 2nd avalanche field, the guy with his front end loader was now there beefing up that section a bit. And when we got to the 1st section he had worked on, it appeared to be holding pretty well, at least for today. This a 4.5 mile drive/hike one way from the mail box area on the far side of Beaver lake. Very well worth it, especially right now with the peak runoff. Beautiful area back in here , and it must be something in the fall. Tons of deciduous trees. If you are up for a 9 mile hike, or a slow rocky drive, this is one you need to add to your list. And a stop in at Slow Groovin BBQ in Marble on the way out is a must. Awesome food!! Pics to follow

1 month ago

We took a razor up to the mill this past weekend. Not very much traffic but probably because most thought it was still blocked by avalanche fields. We saw a few hikers, jeeps, and a couple of trucks along the way and they seemed to have no problem getting up there. The avalanche fields were plowed through and the side walls pretty high so I would anticipate a lot of melting over the next few weeks. River was already high and fast.

1 month ago

Did this last week, the road was clear of snow, and had some amazing views!! There was nobody at the mill all day, so i got to do some great photo shots!!

hiking
1 month ago

An incredibly beautiful and picturesque hike, even before you reach the Mill! Here's the need-to-know: - No parking lot, water, or bathrooms at the "trailhead" (i.e. the small stretch of dirt road before the rocky 4WD-only trail starts). There are about 5 parking spaces at this trailhead, across from what looked like mailboxes. - No signage. We literally never saw the words "Crystal Mill", or any other trail markers, anywhere. We only found the trail by following our AllTrails blue dot. After that, the trail was easy to follow. - The terrain is basically rocky 4WD dirt road all the way to the Mill. What you see when you leave the parking area is what you should expect all the way to the Mill. - During the past week, the 3 avalanche fields mentioned in some of the past reviews have been CLEARED. At 2 of the avalanche fields, the trail has small pools of water that obstruct the path so you have to walk through them or scramble about 20 feet on the snow bank (which we did- it's very solid). - No mud, snow, or ice on the trail. Just the small pools mentioned above. No need for snowshoes, spikes, or even hiking boots. Trail shoes are fine. - We passed 2 hikers and about 6 ATVs. We also went on a Tuesday morning. Per a local we met, the trail is very packed and ATVs can be annoying on the weekends. - Very dog-friendly. Lots of swimming opportunities. - You are NOT allowed to swim at the Mill anymore, or even go down to the water at its base. Per the local mentioned above, this is because the area was being trashed by visitors a little while ago :( There are guard ropes and private property signs telling you not to trespass (i.e. duck beneath the ropes). There wasn't anyone at the Mill to actually see or enforce this but still.... The views are fantastic and you can sit right across from the mill, behind the ropes, and drink/eat/relax. - Took us 4 hours in total, including 30 minutes of just hanging out at the Mill. Maybe my favorite hike in Colorado. Stop at the great BBQ place in town before you leave. And FYI, there's only internet at The Hub in town (no internet for about an hour before you reach town or anywhere on the trail). Have an amazing time!!!

hiking
washed out
1 month ago

hiking
snow
washed out
2 months ago

Hiked it today with my chocolate lab. Trail was good except for the 3 avalanches. The last one was pretty wide and intense. Stay up hill as much as possible, limiting the amount of snow under neath. Will be interesting to see how long it takes to clear up these avalanches and open the trail. Walked up the road to the crystal town site.

hiking
2 months ago

There are three avalanche fields, a little scary but definitely able to cross. Also, the hike is BEAUTIFUL.

hiking
closed
snow
washed out
3 months ago

only got half way do to a avalanche field. will try again

3 months ago

amazing hike

hiking
7 months 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.

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