Crystal Mill and the town of Crystal are the main attraction but hiking the 9 miles there and back is packed with pristine views along the Crystal River, passing colorful Lizard Lake, and the amazing mountains of the White River National Forest surrounding you. You can go by 4×4, by horse, or by bike but hiking is magical and much more rewarding.


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


Hiking to Crystal Mill is now one of my favorite trails. A jeep trail but so worth doing on foot. It’s early October and the ATVs & Jeeps have disappeared and the road is ours today. It’s super early, the sun is just coming up and the colors, and the views are sensational.

We’ve gone up the jeep trail about .06 miles and parked in a sorta pullover. (top of the hill) The road gets bumpier ahead. Having a 4×4 is highly recommended after this point.




Rounding a few bends is Lizard Lake. Certainly a lake you sit and enjoy for a long time. Maybe on the way back? It’s really sweet, so pretty.




Still on our own mostly, few other hikers about. The sun is up, the views have us turning our heads in every direction. Cyrstal River at times far below us from the ledge.

NOTE: We came in October to avoid the jeeps, ATVs, and motorcycles that are crawling all over this area. Now a popular Colorado destination you have to decide when you want to be here. I imagine it gets quite dusty and noisy!





Occasionally walking alongside Crystal River. I’ve been here before and it always shocks me how clear the water is. One of Colorado’s most spectacular rivers.





What a treat, a forest lined with color! Intensely beautiful glowing in the sun.





Suddenly we are here! Was so enthralled with the hike that it was a surprise around a bend. Camera out and snapping away. So picturesque!

NOTE: Crystal Mill, is one of the most sought-after photographed areas in Colorado. I remember taking a snapshot 40 years ago, long before it became a popular hot spot. Now you have to battle crowds to get here. Well worth the battle!

Don’t forget your camera! I use the Sony a6000 mirrorless camera and found it easy to use and carry. Lightweight and takes fantastic photos. Fun to play with manual settings and pretend to be a photographer!


Crystal Mill, Crystal Ghost Town, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Marble, Redstone, hiking near Marble, McClure Pass


The Crystal Mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. There is a $10 fee per person to view the Mill from the water down below. However, you can view it from a roped-off section of the road.

NOTE: The Crystal Mill Foundation was put together to preserve, protect, manage, and maintain the historic Crystal Mill for current visitors,  and future generations. for information.






After all the ous and ahs at Crystal Mill, we hiked another 1/4 mile to the town of Crystal. The best description I can find is dreamy. Like being back in time, no water, no electricity, no wifi, total disconnect. Lots of buildings still remaining and being used.



Stopped in the General Store and found out you can rent the cabins remaining here in town:

There is still hiking farther past Crystal that takes you to the town of Crested Butte 22 miles away. Or keep on going from Crystal and access Lead King Basin, hike up to Schofield Pass, catch a trail to Geneva Lake or loop back to Marble on FR 315. My eyes got BIG. So much more to do, have to come back!




Hiking past Lizard Lake again on our way back to the car, the sun now high up was startling, the colors were so vivid. Pinks, yellows, oranges, lime green, and dark green, are all reflected on the water’s edge.

I encourage you to hike up to see Crystal Mill but anyway you decide to get there it’s worth the effort. Highly recommend this for anyone, of any age.

LOCATED: 7 miles from Marble, CO. From Carbondale CO travel 28 miles on CO133 to the town of Marble. When in Marble stay on the paved road through town to where the pavement ends. You will see a red house on your left. Park here and start hiking up the dirt road. (Crystal City Road #314). Or drive .06 miles farther up the dirt road to the top of the hill and park in a small lot. High clearance is recommended. We did the .06 mile in a Subaru Forester.

RESTROOMS: Portable Potties are available at Beaver Lake State Wildlife Area before reaching the town of Marble.


9 miles out and back

Rated: easy/moderate

Open: only in summer and fall months

High 4×4 off-road traffic

Family friendly

Rough, rocky & muddy

No restrooms

Bring: water & snacks!

Dogs ok on leash


American Lake Trail, an Aspen Colorado Gem!

Amazing Day Hikes – in Colorado’s Backcountry

Ouray Perimeter Trail – is Full of Surprises

St. Mary’s Glacier and Beyond – something different

Easy Trails – in Colorado’s Wilderness


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