August 24, 2018 Slideshows » Columns

Crystal Trail hike, Updates on Lake Moraine and Dixon Trails and Rainbow Falls 

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Green Mountain Falls, just west of Colorado Springs along US Highway 24, is a treasure trove of hiking opportunities. The Catamount Falls Trail is one of the most popular and oldest trails in town, eventually leading to Pikes Peak's North Slope recreation area and reservoirs, with newer trails such as the Dewey Mountain and Bratton Trails offering other hiking opportunities.

Green Mountain Falls' Crystal Trail is one of the more obscure and challenging trails there. Rising over 1400 feet in about a mile (one way), and through what seems like an unending number of switchbacks, it provides a workout along with great views down Ute Pass before topping out on a service road that also doubles as part of the Ring the Peak Trail.  You can do this hike as a up-and-back hike of a little over two miles, or as a long loop of about 5.4 miles (not including walking from where you park).

To get there: The closest parking to the trailhead is on the east side of the lake in Green Mountain Falls at the intersection of Ute Pass Ave and Hotel St. From there, walk across Ute Pass Ave on Hotel Street. Hotel Street curves to the right and becomes Illinois Ave. Turn left onto Park Ave and then right onto Boulder Street. The hike starts at the end of Boulder Street. Do not park in the neighborhood or try to turn around at the end of Boulder Street.
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Bob Falcone
The hike starts with the Thomas Trail at the very end of Boulder Street. All distances were measured from here.
Bob Falcone
Staying to the right of a creek, the trail goes steadily up hill. There are a few very short side trails to the creek and some nice waterfalls.
Bob Falcone
About 375 feet up the trail, it meets the Kirkpatrick Trail. Turn left here.
Bob Falcone
A short distance away, the trail crosses the creek. You can usually rock hop across it pretty easily. It can be a bit dicey when frozen, so use caution in the winter.
Bob Falcone
Stop and take a picture of the falls as you cross the creek
Bob Falcone
At about .20 miles the Crystal Trail meets the Kirkpatrick Trail. Turn right here.
Bob Falcone
This starts a long steep section with a lot of switchbacks
Bob Falcone
The trail is mostly soft tread with some rock steps
Bob Falcone
At about 1 mile, the trail meets the creek and then turns away from it. From here it's a fairly flat trek for about another 1000 feet to the service road. From the service road/RTP you can turn around and go back down the trail to where you started. You can also make a right turn and continue on to make a long loop.
Bob Falcone
If you decide to make the loop, you'll follow the road for about 1.5 miles until the Catamount Flume Trail, at a sharp bend in the road, just below the dam for the North Catamount Reservoir. Follow the trail through the flume, then the Garden of Eden and then down hill on the Catamount Falls Trail. At a little over 4.4 miles, just before the trail makes a sharp turn downhill, watch for a Thomas Trail marker going straight. It crosses the Catamount Creek at a waterfall (be careful) and continues for a bit over a mile to the trailhead at the end of Boulder Street.
Bob Falcone
The Crystal Falls Trail from the trailhead to the service road.
Bob Falcone
The hike when done as a loop.
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Bob Falcone
The hike starts with the Thomas Trail at the very end of Boulder Street. All distances were measured from here.

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