Crystal Lake

ELEVATION: 11,760’



EASE OF FISHING: All the lake can be bank fished, but the rocky west side is more difficult.

SPECIES/SIZES: Brook trout averaging 11”, up to 16”

SETTING: A classic timberline lake with a wooded island, right at the foot of Crystal Peak

APPROXIMATE ICE-OUT: Early to mid June


ACCESS: 4.2 mile foot/horse trail


ACCESS DESCRIPTION: Trail begins at the IOOF Cemetery, northwest of Lake City (see Larson Lakes). From the marked intersection eight-tenths of a mile above the cemetery, continue straight ahead for Crystal Lake. From here, it pays to study a topo map carefully, as there is a fork or two in the trail, but few signs. If you wind up at beaver-pond-like Thompson Lake within 1 mile, you've missed an important fork about one-quarter mile back. Backtrack and look for a trail leading uphill westward up a small draw. About 2.75 miles above the cemetery, this trail passes small Hay Lake, which may contain some trout. Above Hay Lake, and ascending the "Golden Stairs", the trail utilizes a portion of a man-made ditch, long abandoned. Most of Crystal Lake trail is well-defined, but unmarked trail junctions in the first two miles can make skill with a map and compass valuable.


NOTES: Crystal Lake is beautifully placed body of water that can produce some heavy, hook-jawed brookies. The trail is steep, and it may take some as many as 4 hours to reach the lake. Crystal Lake is prone to some winterkill. Spoons or spinners tipped with a piece of worm have often been the ticket at Crystal Lake. A bubble and fly combination also works with some consistency. Crystal can produce at any time of year, but perhaps is at its best early and late - just after ice-out, and in October. A small log cabin in the woods near the lake's shore is convenient protection from summer's rain, hail or snow squalls. 


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