Trail Talk: Crystal Mill an all-day adventure worth taking
If you go
Getting there: From Carbondale, take Colorado 133 south 12 miles. Signs point you directly to Marble, and then to the trail.
Learn more: marbletourismassociation.org
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When I told photo editor and hiking guru Chelsea Self that I was going to do the hike to Crystal Mill, her response scared me. “I nearly died on that trail,” she said.
It is eight miles to 10 miles (depending where you park) roundtrip of steep uphill, downhill, then uphill again. But it’s absolutely beautiful.
Each turn brings a more breathtaking view than the one before it. There are areas where you get a vast, panoramic view of mountains and endless trees — which are hopefully still in peak this weekend. There’s Lizard Lake, which looks like green glass. There’s the rushing Crystal River. And then, there’s the mill. My hiking partner and I were so excited to see that structure and rest our aching legs.
The hike took up most of our day so I recommend going with a good friend who can take in the views and match your pace pretty well (Thanks for going with me, Sam!)
The mill looks like something straight off a postcard or a Thomas Kinkade painting. Constructed in 1893, the mill powered an air compressor which then powered drills for mining. It sits precariously atop giant rock with mountains in the background and aspens surrounding it.
OK, OK, it’s not cheating because you still get beautiful views whether you four-wheel or Jeep it the whole way, but something about reaching the mill on your own two feet is so rewarding. Those other options do exist, though, for outdoor lovers of all interests.
You’re in Marble, so you gotta go to Slow Groovin’ BBQ (slowgroovinbbq.com). Like the leaves, it’s got a limited season, so visit before Oct. 31. It’ll reopen May 1.