Crystal Lake Trail sits just beneath the eastern side of Crystal Peak (12,933f ft) and presents a stunning ending to a spectacular hike. Minutes from Lake City, CO you find yourself amid intense forests of aspens and meadows with sweeping views of Lake City far below. Then onto dense pines along ridges with stunning views of the highest peaks and rewarded with a sweet alpine lake.


Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).


Arriving at the trailhead at 7 am we are the only ones here. Be prepared for solitude, as this was the theme for the entire hike. We encountered no one. Unusual in Colorado!

The trailhead is the start for both Larson Lake and Crystal Lake. After a steep 1/2 mile+ hike up a rocky road, we found the split for Crystal Lake (#235) & Larson Lake (#236) trails.




Lake City views stretch for a mile of the trail as we ascend through aspens and meadows. Looking smaller and smaller as we get higher. Really was a sight to behold.




One of the prettiest aspen-lined trails we’ve hiked. Sprinkles of wildflowers among so much greenery was magical. It’s the middle of June and with recent rains the dew and smells made for a fairytale-like setting.



At about 2 1/2 miles we leave the aspens groves behind and came across a rock slide area mingled with fir, spruce & aspens. Our views begin to change as we pass the rock slide area. Remnants of an old mine above a small lake to our right capture our attention.




Into the trees now, this hike is relentless in its uphill climb. But the tranquil forest is relaxing and beautiful as we keep on trekking.



Just keeps getting better as we go deeper and farther into the mountain. After passing another rock slide area we are heading now up a short area of rocks until turning to the northwest.


Are you familiar with Leave No Trace & why it’s important? >CLICK HERE


Crystal Lake Trail, Crystal Lake, Lake City Trails, Colorado, Colorado trails, day hikes in Lake City


The views of the high peaks are becoming more visual and it’s breathtaking. High above Crystal Creek, we are now hiking a gentle path lined with baby aspen trees. Then another short journey up a steep incline and we enter the basin.





First sighting before Crystal Lake, remnants of an old cabin.





Sitting in the basin below Crystal Peak is Crystal Lake. Much larger than I expected and beautiful with shadows from ominous clouds lurking above.

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gear. At high altitudes, dehydration plus fickle weather is always something to consider.

Day Hiking Essentials, What to Bring in Your Backpack


Crystal Lake, Hike Crystal Lake, Larson Lake, Lake City, Colorado, Day hikes



Dispersed campsites surround this area and after exploring, taking pictures we settled down for lunch. Not for long, a few short rain bursts and we headed back down.

NOTE: If you have time and energy you can climb 1 more mile and another 1,170 ft in elevation to the summit of Crystal Peak.

One item I recently purchased and have used SO many times already – a hiking umbrella – it’s super lightweight & works great. 2 more Items to consider at high altitude that I ALWAYS have with me are NUUN Dehydration Tablets and a Garmin Mini.




Crystal Lake Trail, Lake City, Colorado, Colorado trails



Stunning views of Grassy Mountain (12,821-ft.), Red Mountain (12,826-ft.), Redcloud Peak (14,034-ft.), and unnamed peaks are right before us as we hike back down.





Back through the aspens, & wildflower extravaganza and the end of our day. Bring a Wildflower Field Guide with you!

This trail is honestly uphill all the way. Intense yet exhilarating. Highly recommend.


8.2 miles out & back

Rated: Moderate/strenuous

Trail # 235

No restrooms

Elevation gain: 2,960 ft

Highest elevation: 11,760 ft

Open to horses & hiking

Nearest town: Lake City, CO

Uncompahgre National Forest


From Lake City go north on Hwy 149 for 1/4 mile. Turn left on Balsam Rd.  and travel 1/2 mile. Trailhead for Crystal and Larson Lakes is well marked on your left.

A TRAIL NEARBY yet completely different we loved…

Cataract Gulch Trail, Waterfalls & Wildflowers!


Rugged Alpine Lake Hikes!

Colorado Hikes, 23 Awesome Trails!


Day Hiking Essentials, What to Bring in Your Backpack

Drop a comment below for any questions. Share your adventures with me. I’d love to hear from you, HAPPY TRAILS…

Connect with me on Instagram! I enjoy hanging out there and leaving tidbits of trails I’ve hiked in Colorado. Follow me and say hi – send me a message! Follow other hikers and be inspired!


Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).