Gunnison County, Colorado
White River National Forest
Sopris Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Forest Service Road: 314
Trail Type: Straight Through
Nearby Towns: Marble
Nearby Trails: Lead King Basin, Schofield Pass
Trail Length: 6 miles
Elevation: 8,002 to 9,239 feet
This is a bumpy but fairly easy trail, and it features one of the most photographed things in Colorado, the Crystal Powerhouse. It is easy for any vehicle to get to the Powerhouse and the town of Crystal if you stop and turn around at the little town and make your way back the way you came in from Marble. 4-wheel drive is recommended, however.
Start at Beaver Lake where there is plenty of parking. The pavement turns to an easy dirt road here. This is a good place to air down.
There is a brief but fairly steep climb up Daniels Mountain to the Lead King Basin trailhead. Continue to the right around Hat Mountain and pass by Lizard Lake. The trail gets a bit rougher after you pass the lake. It follows Crystal River through the canyon, and passing may be difficult or impossible in places.
The Powerhouse is a very well-preserved structure next to a large waterfall on Crystal River filled with clear water with a green hue. You start on the opposite side of the river with lots of places to take pictures from the road. You can also make your way down dirt paths to look at the Powerhouse from either side. The River is often shallow enough to walk through near the bottom of the waterfall where you should manage to not get too wet.
The little town of Crystal provides the history of the area and some souvenirs you can purchase. It is immediately after passing by the Powerhouse. You can turn around here and head back the way you came, or continue up the hill to the end of the trail. The trail shares its end with the Lead King Basin trail so you can return that way. It is also the trailhead for the Schofield Pass trail so if you have a capable vehicle you can continue out along this trail to Crested Butte.
Information last updated on August 21st, 2012.
- August 10, 2012: ran by Ben, Bob S., Monica and Walt
- September 3, 2005: ran by Bob R., Cheryl, Dave E., Dave B., Ladd, Micheal, Monica and Walt
- August 10, 2003: ran by Ladd, Monica and Perry
From Denver take I-70 to Glenwood Springs and Highway 82 south to Carbondale. At Carbondale take Highway 133 until you see a sign for Marble and Road 314. Just past Marble on this main road through town you will see signs for Crystal City.
Meet at Java Joe's at 433 Main Street in Carbondale.