Crystal Lakes Long Loop
ElevationAscent: 5,919' 1,804 m
Descent: -5,953' -1,815 m
High: 11,505' 3,507 m
Low: 7,598' 2,316 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 32% (18°)
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“A tiring experience that will give you a little bit of everything the Rockies have to offer.”— Chris Rozoff
Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
If you go counterclockwise, it is 100% dry from mile 19-29. We hit this in the afternoon on a hot sunny day and we got very dehydrated. I'd carry an extra liter for the climb up Deer Mountain or go clockwise so you hit this section in the morning.
You'll eventually intersect the Lawn Lake Trail. From there, take a right for an out-and-back segment that is essential for this route, offering some of the most spectacular views of the entire journey. It is recommended that you continue on through the, at times, thick willows to check out the Crystal Lakes. This section is the most technical of the entire loop as it's a bit challenging with rocks, willows, streams, and occasional moose.
After taking in the views, continue back down to Lawn Lake, but do not turn left on the Black Canyon Trail. Instead, continue heading south on the Lawn Lake Trail. You'll take this all the way down to Route 34. It is a long, almost entirely downhill trail that is a lot of fun to cruise down on. You'll still witness flood damage in the ravine at your right from the 1982 Lawn Lake Reservoir disaster.
You'll then connect with the Little Horseshoe Park Trail, which is most frequented by horses, so beware of your footing. The route then continues onto the Deer Mountain Trail, which includes a climb over Deer Mountain. The ascent from the western approach is heavily trafficked.
On the Estes Park side of Deer Mountain, you'll head down a considerably less traveled singletrack, and eventually find yourself in Estes Park. From there, there's a small bit of road running to get back to the Lumpy Ridge trailhead parking lot, and then, before you know it, your day is complete.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Rocky Mountain National Park