Crystal Lake
Difficulty Moderate
Length of hike 1.4 mi. RT
Starting Elevation 11780 ft.
Top Elevation 12450 ft.
Type of Vehicle Regular
Distance to Trailhead 32 miles
GPS track download Crystal Lake Track
Hiking time up 1:30 hours
Hiking time down 1:10 hrs

Directions to Trailhead
From the Traffic light in Ridgway, drive 28 miles south on Highway 550 over Red Mountain Pass to the Ophir Pass road turnoff. Drive 4 miles on the road to the summit of Ophir Pass.


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If you enjoy scrambling on scree, this is the hike for you. With the exception of a few hundred yards at Crystal Lake, you will be on scree all the way to the ridge. Crystal Lake is named appropriately – it appears as a beautiful crystal in the rocks. Its color is clear, deep blue, and early in the season there are still some small icebergs floating along the edges.

According to fishing reports you may catch Yellow Perch, Smallmouth Bass, White Perch, Brook Trout, and Cutthroat in the lake.

Going from the lake higher up into the basin and to the ridge means more scrambling on scree. It helps to stay on that faint outline of an animal track and contour along the slope instead of going straight up the scree to the saddle. The animals traveling through this area definitely know how to deal with scree slopes and have established several tracks at an efficient and comfortable angle going up to the saddle.


This is Tundra up here with only a few tiny flowers surviving on the bit of soil in between the rocks. On the ridge, which may tempt hardy climbers to continue in a southerly direction, you get fine views into Paradise Basin and a peek at a couple of stunted pines clinging to the rocky soil. The Ophir Pass road, winding up the valley along Mineral Creek, is clearly visible from this vantage point, as is the legendary OPUS hut.

If it were not for the scrambling and the elevation, the hike up to the saddle would be rated as easy. A regular car can easily make it to the trailhead, but don’t be tempted to continue on to Ophir.