Avoid parking in a driveway or on private property; the trail is tucked away in a residential area.
Though the trail is slick going down, it is fairly clear to run upon—few switchbacks contain rocks or roots to beware of. Keep in mind that it is singletrack, and families like to bring their dogs to this trail in good weather, making for more of a start-and-stop run.
From Colorado Springs, drive West on 24, past Manitou Springs. About 9 miles after, look for signs to Green Mountain Falls. Take a left onto Chipita Park Road and follow for 1.5 miles. Take a left on Spruce Avenue, followed by a right onto Pine Street. Spruce Avenue and all remaining roads are dirt. Follow Pine Street until it turns into Mountain Street; take a left until you reach a fork in the road resembling an upside down "Y." Veer sharply left to complete the top right corner of the Y, and drive up a steep hill until you reach a dead end. On your right is a private property with clear "No Parking" signs. Turn around and park on the left side of the road.
The trailhead to Crystal Trail is very straightforward; look for a blue circle trail marker, labeled "Crystal Trail," and start heading forward, as if the road continued. About 20 yards in, you'll see a rusty wire fence requesting that you "Please Follow Trail." About another 20-30 yards up, you'll encounter another rusty sign, practically illegible except for the top indicating, "Hikers Welcome." Another 20-30 yards, and you'll reach your first switchback, a blue trail marker pointing left.
The full trail is 2 miles one direction with about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. The map presented is an approximation of mile one, based on the Fitbit recording included in the photos (switchback descriptions do not translate exactly to the map). Due to snowy/icy conditions, my dog could not continue past about a mile up, so we turned back. However, I have completed the full trail during summertime, and it is completely manageable without snow and ice for both dogs and humans.
A little over 0.1 miles into Crystal Trail, you'll meet up with the Kirkpatrick Trail
, indicated by a sign. You'll be running on both trails until reaching the 4th switchback, where they diverge. Continue straight to stay on Kirkpatrick, or veer sharp right to stay on Crystal. There is signage indicating these options.
The trail gets slightly steeper as you press on toward switchback 5. Switchbacks 6-10 are short and less steep, while switchbacks 11-13 gain a bit more elevation. The next few switchbacks (14-16) mellow out, and the four following become slightly longer. The remaining switchbacks we tackled tended to be short and steep. We ended halfway through switchback 34, at the 1 mile mark.
The trail is overall easy to follow, though can be slippery, particularly going down, regardless of weather. Some switchbacks do hide from you.
Lots of mossy rocks and coniferous trees. The top boasts a stellar waterfall, and in the winter, ice crystals abound. The trail itself contains some rocks and rock steps but is overall smooth.