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Mountain Biking: Colorado > Rio Grande National Forest > Divide Ranger District

Quick Facts

Crystal Lake Road 532a

Beginning Elevation: 11,520 Feet (3591.0 Meters)
Difficulty: Difficult to More Difficult
Elevation Gain: 530 Feet (165.2 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 12,050 Feet (3756.2 Meters) At Crystal Lake
Length, One-way: 2.5 Miles (4.17 Kilometers)
Road Number: 532a
Time, One-way: 1.5 Hours From the junction with the Bristol Head Peak Road
Usage: Moderate 30-300 users per season
USGS Maps: Bristol Head; Baldy Cinco
Vehicle Accessibility: Multiple use

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Cutthroat Trout - 9.91
Copyright: Unknown
Cutthroat Trout - 9.91
This is a short (2.5 miles) scenic primitive road that leads to Crystal Lake. It is a fairly popular side trip off the main Bristol Head Peak Road 532. Crystal Lake Road 532a joins the Bristol Head Peak Road approximately 7 miles east from where the Bristol Head Peak Road begins (across Colorado Highway 149 from Rito Hondo/Continental Reservoir Road 513). At the junction, the Crystal Lake Road continues straight ahead (northeast) just before the Boulder Creek crossing where the main Bristol Head Peak Road turns to the south.

The Crystal Lake Road usually poses no access problems unless patches of snow remain on its steeper short stretches. However, the first part of the Bristol Head Peak Road, which serves as access, is extremely steep, rocky, and rough. Many of the rocks are large, making navigation difficult due to poor-to-nonexistent tread and lack of clearance. Substantial driving skill is required to successfully negotiate this section of road without damaging your vehicle.

From its junction with the Bristol Head Peak Road, the Crystal Lake Road #532a climbs 260 feet in the first 0.5 mile and then flattens out for 0.1 mile. Over the next 0.9 mile, the road gains 240 feet in elevation then drops 200 feet in a little over 0.1 mile where it crosses a fork of Shallow Creek. Four-wheel drive pickups with long beds may have some problems negotiating a few of the short, steep sections with tight turns. This is particularly true when the road is dry causing a "spinout" effect on the rocky roadbed. The final 0.9 mile of road climbs approximately 250 feet to Crystal Lake. The route travels through spruce-fir stands and small subalpine parks to the lake, which sits on a small open flat.

This five-acre lake usually provides fair to good catches of rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout to the angler. The lake is subject to winter kill. However, the Colorado Division of Wildlife periodically stocks the lake.

Directions from Creede, Colorado: 27.1 miles west on Colorado Highway 149. Turn east (right) onto Bristol Head Peak Road #532 (4-wheel drive) across from Rito Hondo/ Continental Reservoir Road #513. Road passes through a wire gate in the fence, off the east side of Colorado Highway 149, and is marked at the fence with a white arrow. Travel approximately 7 miles east on Bristol Head Peak Road #532 to where the road forks. Go straight (northeast) at the junction with Bristol Head Peak Road #532 which turns to the right (south). Follow the road 2.5 miles to Crystal Lake.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Late June-Early July through September .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Stuart (Bakersfield, CA)
Time of Day: Morning/Afternoon
Length of Time: Day Trip
Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Very scenic, good place to take the family for a picnic. Road has been improved and what used to be a challenging drive is now pretty vanilla/boring. Impact on the fishing is negative as more people can get in there now and the lake can't handle the pressure.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Cold Water Fishing Crystal Lake
ICON Four-Wheel Driving Crystal Lake Road 532a
ICON Mountain Biking Short road
ICON ATV Riding Short road
ICON Motorcycle Riding Dirt Bikes

Related Activities
North Clear Creek - Four fishing access points to North Clear Creek are provided by means of primitive dirt roads, marked with white arrows, that lead off Forest Road #513 (Continental Reservoir/Rito Honda Reservoir Road).

North Clear Creek Campground - Some sites are in open, while some sites are screened with small aspen/spruce/fir. Good general area in the fall to observe and take pictures of fall aspen colors.

North Clear Creek Falls - This site is 27 miles west of Creede in a fenced area with open grass vegetation. There is a very picturesque view of North Clear Creek Falls.

North Clear Creek Road 510 Scenic Drive - This scenic mountain drive is on a gravel road which provides access to South Clear Creek Campground, North Clear Creek Campground and North Clear Creek Falls Overlook.

North Clear Creek Road 510/Santa Maria-Seepage Roa - The route crosses open parks and rolling aspen-covered hills. Beautiful views of Bristol Head Peak and the surrounding mountains of the Continental Divide, as well as North Clear Creek waterfall are available.

Sawmill Gulch Trail (Conejos Peak Ranger District) - A pleasant day hike which offers spectacular views along the way. An excellent area for picnics and mountain scenery exists at the trail's end.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Divide Ranger Station, 13308 West US Highway 160, P.O. Box 40 , Del Norte, CO, 81132, Phone: 719-657-3321, TTY: 719-657-6038


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