Crystal City

Marble, Colorado (Gunnison County)

Last Updated: 09/12/2019
3.9 /5 ( 7 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: 05/15 - 11/22
Difficulty: 3-4
(MODERATE )
Length: 6 miles
Highest Elevation: 9239 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Other Shapes
Best Direction to Travel: East
Nearest Town: Marble
Nearest Town w/ Services: Crested Butte
Official Road Name: County Road 3/FS Road 314
Management Agency: White River National Forest
District: Aspen-Sopris Ranger District
Distance:
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Crystal City

The Crystal City Trail is a popular connector road which takes you to some of Colorado's most spectacular alpine heights, wilderness views, and of course, Crystal City . Incorporated in 1880, Crystal City was a thriving mining community at the time with hundreds of residents and amenities of the day. Now, most are long gone, and Crystal was, in fact, a ghost town for several decades. Today, several families maintain their properties in Crystal City as summer residences. One structure remains as the most prominent icon for the city's past--the Crystal Mill.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Crystal City

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
2WD Vehicle with High Clearance
Concerns:
Summary:
Rocky and bumpy throughout, the hill between WP 1 and WP 2 is the most difficult portion. This hill may be impassible to 2WD during wet conditions.

Technical Rating: 3-4
(MODERATE )

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 18" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 18" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 36" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.

Read more about our rating system

Description

The Crystal City Trail is a moderate drive suitable for high-clearance crossover SUVs/AWD vehicles and 2WD vehicles in dry conditions. In wet conditions, 4WD is recommended. The road from Marble to Crystal City is dirt and loose stone with an occasional 6" to 8" shelf or ledge created from erosion. Erosion has also exposed some larger rocks, 10" to 12" diameter. The steepest incline is just east of Beaver Lake where the road transitions from an improved surface to dirt and loose rock/shale. Most segments are wide enough to allow opposite traffic to pass, but there are a few instances where this is not the case. NOTES ON SEASONAL CLOSURE: The Crystal City Trail lies within the White River National Forest (Aspen/Sopris District) and is designated FS Road 314. It is seasonally closed from Waypoint 3 to Waypoint 6, between November 22nd and May 21st each year. Beyond Waypoint 6 of this guide, FS Road 314 (Schofield Pass) is also closed seasonally these same dates.

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0.00 mi)

The trailhead is at 2nd Street and Silver Street in Marble, Colorado. Here you will see signs for Beaver Lake and Crystal City.

2. Three-Way Intersection (1.60 mi)

Turn right/downhill toward Crystal City. This three-way intersection is the junction between the Crystal City Road and the western trailhead for Lead King Basin (shown on some maps as "Lost Creek Trail").

3. Lizard Lake (2.00 mi)

Proceed past Lizard Lake.

4. Crystal Mill (5.30 mi)

The iconic Crystal Mill. There is a small parking area here suitable for eight to ten vehicles.

5. Crystal (5.50 mi)

The street is dirt, there are no traffic signs or signals.

6. End Crystal City Trail (6.00 mi)

The Crystal City Trail ends at the eastern trailhead for Lead King Basin, about one-half mile east of Crystal. The Schofield Pass Road begins here, and will take you east-southeast up Crystal Canyon on the segment known as "The Devil's Punchbowl" before emerging at Schofield Park, the West Maroon Bells hiking trailhead, and the Paradise Divide (intersection of Gothic Road and Slate Creek Road).

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.072682, -107.184261

Starting Point: Glenwood Springs

From I-70 at Glenwood Springs, take Highway 82 south toward Carbondale. At Carbondale take Highway 133 south for approximately 30 miles until you see a sign for Marble and County Road 3. Turn east on County Road 3 for about five miles to Marble. Within Marble, County Road 3 turns north one block, then east one block, then north again to arrive at East Second Street and Silver Street. Here you will see the signs for Beaver Lake and Crystal City. From U.S. Highway 50 at Gunnison, turn north on Colorado Highway 135 to Crested Butte. In Crested Butte, take Gothic Road (County Road 317) north beyond Mount Crested Butte, for approximately 12 miles to the trailhead for Schofield Pass Road. Continue down Crystal Canyon through the Devil's Punchbowl, and arrive at the eastern end of Crystal City Trail where it intersects with Lead King Basin.

Camping

Dispersed

Dispersed camping is discouraged along the Crystal City Trail because so much of the land adjacent to the road is privately owned and "posted". There are excellent dispersed campsites on connecting roads such as Lead King Basin, Schofield Pass, and further southeast on Paradise Divide and Daisy Pass Road. The U.S. Forest Service maintains Bogan Flats Campground four miles west of Marble, and two additional campgrounds, Redstone Campground and Avalanche Campground south of Carbondale, Colorado.

Camping: Crystal City

Land Use Issues

None.

Trail Reviews (16)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove the Crystal Trail after descending Schofield Pass. Stopped for a brief time in the village itself, and then again at the Mill. Lots of traffic, especially hikers, even on a weekday late in the season.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Beautiful trail to Crystal Mill nothing too rough

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun quick trail. I did it in a 2015 Ram Rebel. There are not tight switchbacks or anything but the trail can get crowded and passing people can be a challenge. There are a ton of Polaris type vehicles on the road and some inexperienced people trying to get to the mill so it adds to the challenge of trying to pass on a crowded trail. Overall though great trail with a rewarding end. I do agree with other reviewers this isn't a difficult trail by any means but it certainly isn't a 1-2.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We visited this trail while at FJ summit 13. This is a great trail and my FJ cruiser had no trouble navigating it. I did run from waypoint 2 on in four low to give more ascent /descent control but have no doubt I could have done this in four high or all wheel drive. There was an enormous avalanche that came down from the opposite bank and splashed up the side that the road is on, devastating many trees. There was an attendant at the Mill selling water and $10 passes to hike across the river and over to the Mill. No thanks, the water was just too high. The shelf road portions can be quite unsettling as several off camber parts bounce you toward the side. Portions are several hundred feet above the stream bed. If you have an aversion to heights, you will definitely find this trail exhillerating. The only negative was the amount of oncoming traffic and the limited places to pass each other. Since we did this on a Tuesday and had this issue, I can't imagine what a weekend day would be like.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I'm giving this a 2 star rating only because this trail is not as easy as the low level 1 rating makes it seem and I seriously doubt a 2wd truck could do this trail. Any stock Jeep, 4runner, 4wd pickup, or something you associate with offroading in, will be perfectly fine. The terrain is not all that difficult, just really rough so SUV ground clearance is not an issue, but there are several steep hills that we attempted with an AWD crossover and the grade was too much. And although we had enough clearance, the trail is rough enough that we had to go extremely slow and very carefully pick our lines. Around a mile from lizard lake we ditched the vehicle and hiked the rest of the way. Trail is 100% open and clear of any avalanche debris. The debris fields are pretty interesting to see. Like others said, the river is raging but the mill is a rewarding experience.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
More rocky and narrow in places than a typical “Easy 1-2” rated trail probably due to recent avalanches. Awesome closeup views of the river and of course Crystal Mill which is a must see experience.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Drove the trail Sunday June 8 2019; it is in great shape minus a few debris fields from major avalanches. The river is really raging right now from all the snow melt so it has eaten away the road in one or two spots. In these debris fields the obstacles are a bit unpredictable as some large boulders and trees rolled onto the trail, but were mostly cleared, and if not, are easy to clear yourself. No snow present on the trail and camping areas are all in great shape. It does note you can do this in a 2WD vehicle but I wouldn't recommend it; that being said, a stock Crosstrek can do it, but you'd really have to pick your lines in a few spots. Is a very fun trail to drive for entry level 4x4 folks, as long as you turn it around at Crystal City. Lead King Basin is much more difficult as well as the section around Devils Punch Bowl; neither trail was open this past weekend.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The company that owns the mine announced today that the road is cleared and now open. Expect some icy/snowy spots for the next few days/weeks.

Author:
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Just an update for anyone trying to get there. As of 5/24/19, the trail is impassable due to a landslide. GPS Coordinates of the landslide: Lat: N 39°03'51.1056" Lon: W 107°08'41.5068" Hopefully they get it cleared soon.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Good trail and beautiful country. Only reason I give it a 4 instead of a five is because of how busy it has become, as the mill has turned into a huge tourist attraction. I run this trail at least annually as my family owns land past Crystal and I highly recommend this trail in the middle of the week and earlier in the season, rather than on the weekend in the middle of summer. At its busiest, expect to back up the trail at least a dozen times to make room for on coming traffic. Also be prepared to deal with novice drivers that do not know proper off road etiquette. There also can be a lot of foot and bike traffic as well with some of whom frown upon motor vechicles using the trail.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
White River National Forest indicates seasonal closures ended as schedule (May 21, 2018) but state further that snow still remains in spots above 9,500' elevation so be aware of runoff and muddy conditions. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd554376.pdf Note that the WRNF says travel on (connected road) Schofield Pass is NOT RECOMMENDED at this time.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Ran up to marble today. Intended to run Crystal City from the marble side. Not so much. FS was up there to do some maintenance and repair as there was quite the mud hole over the weekend. Guess a guy got his suburban stuck near the lake. The county tried to fill. But it was not good. FS got there D5 cat dozer stuck up over the tracks, as well there D3 dozer trying to get the other one out. Long story short there unstuck but the marble side is closed for the foreseeable future. Best case a few weeks, worst case tell spring. Good news is Lead King basin is open and passable as well the Schofield Pass is open. This was my route in then out. Conditions were nice weather was warm. Trip back to Glennwood springs over Keabler pass was beautiful. Pics are the marble side with the hole big enough to swallow my JKUR on 37's

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I drove the Crystal City road to exit at Marble, after having driven Paradise Divide and Schofield Pass the previous day, and Lead King Basin earlier this same day. The road conditions are good; or as good as they can be, I should say, due to being shale rock over much of the course parallel to the Crystal River. It is a bumpy ride no matter which way you take it. Traffic was light, as I only encountered one ATV and one SUV, plus two mountain bikers and two pairs of hikers.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The trail up to Crystal is open. There was an avalanche but they have it cleared and is passable.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this trail after running Schofield Pass from Crested Butte. Didn't run into a whole lot of traffic, just a few vehicles. One gentleman was flying his drone around the mill to get better camera angles since you can no longer go down to the river. We were lucky enough to come to the mill late in the afternoon just as the sunlight was providing ideal lighting on the structure. The trail on the way out wasn't bad at all compared to prior years. It has been a whole lot rougher in the past.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Camped all weekend at the Oh Be Joyful campground just northwest of Crested Butte. Did a half trek on Paradise Divide and joined up with another group that was waiting to go on Schofield Pass. Lead King Basin was closed off due to recovery of a couple rigs that fell into the creek. We continued through the ghost town of Crystal before we reached the infamous Crystal Mill aka Dead Horse Mill. Found out from a person in other group that there was an excellent BBQ joint in Marble. Followed them out to the parking lot by Lizard Lake to air up. Checked out Slow Groovin BBQ and that was phenomenal!!!!

Questions & Answers (2)

Q: How is the trail looking as far as snow conditions go? still passable?
–Austin (10/22/2018)
A: I called the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District this morning and was told that the Rangers drove it (plus Schofield Pass) last week, and said they wouldn't do it again until May due to deep snow and mud. While it is "open" and doesn't close seasonally until late November, the recommendation was "don't do it".
–Tracy Barker (10/23/2018)
Q: What time of day would be best for a picture of the mill, morning or afternoon?
–Peter (08/29/2018)
A: Peter: good question! The photos in this guide were taken around 11:00am on a July day. The sun was nearly "high" in the sky, minimizing shadows. Earlier or later will provide different effects, as will varying weather conditions. Personally, I think 10am to 3pm in July and August provide the brightest images. As we get into September, I think the best light will be similar but perhaps 11am to 2pm. Please write a review and post some photos when you go!
–Tracy Barker (08/30/2018)

Writer Information

Tracy Barker

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tracy is an outdoor enthusiast originally from north Alabama. Tracy's family moved to central Utah when he was a child, and subsequently to southern Utah. These family moves established a precedent, of sorts, as Tracy has lived in numerous states over the past three decades. Tracy is now settling down in Colorado Springs. His favorite activities are family trail rides and camping with small groups. This, too, is a precedent started many years ago in dad's pickup truck, followed by Tracy's first 4x4 acquisition, a 1975 Ford Bronco (in 1991). Tracy aspires to climb some of Colorado's venerable 14'ers while traveling some of the notable and not-so-well-known 4x4 trails in the Centennial State. He's excited about contributing to Trails Offroad because the site is committed to meet a critical 4-wheel drive enthusiast requirement--current and accurate trail data.
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