I see a couple of reports from Crystal's south neighbor Shriner, so here is Crystal. This trail starts right from the highway just before you hit the turnoff to drive up to Sunrise.
Why the portion of the trail up to Crystal Peak isn't on the trail maps is beyond me. It is at least in as nice as the Shriner Peak trail. There is no exposure/nothing scary about this hike all the way to the summit. The lower portion of this trail is wide and smooth. The upper part is narrower but not very rocky or anything.
This hike is on my top 10 list for the easy access/relatively easy hike/bang for the effort and the great views.
The advantage to this summit over Shriner is no lookout so you get the great 360 degree views without having to walk around the structure. Don't see much in the way of camping up there though unlike Shriner which has some campsites if you wanna camp.
I left early to beat the heat/crowds. I was on the trail by 07:07AM.
Another thing as it turned out about leaving early. You get to hike almost 100% in the shade as the sun hasn't risen over the mountain yet!
There were 4 other cars in the parking area. It would end up these were camping. I saw absolutely no one on my entire trip up (That would change dramatically on the way down).
Ok I'll just group flower pictures below. Lots blooming.
This is a just under 4 mile 3100'ish ascent. The first 1 1/4 miles is also shared with the route up to Crystal Lakes.
The trail starts off crossing a creek and stays in the woods all the way up to the junction.
After 1 1/4 miles and about 1000 feet or so of climbing the junction is reached.
To the right we go soon crossing a creek on a footlog.
The trail stays in the woods a bit longer crossing an avalanche looking area where views start.
Wandering on it continues to open up more and views are the order of the day.
I continued up stopping for waypoints and pictures. I finally realized I needed to keep moving or I might never get there and I would likely have all the views from the top anyway. I had a time constraint and wanted some summit time!
Still couldn't resist a few more pictures on the way up.
The trail actually heads south of the peak then swings back. You reach the site of the old lookout.
From here follow the obvious easy boot path up to the right to the summit. A little steeper in places maybe than the trail but no exposure or anything. A must do for the 360 degree views.
It is only a short distance to the summit. An hour and 58 minutes from the car I was on the summit.
What super views! Some bugs were out but not bothersome. A nice breeze helped.
A 5 volcano day.
360 degree summit video
More summit shots
Lance Armstrong on the Crystal Peak summit.
After just under an hour it was time to head down to be back for my nieces birthday party up in Shoreline later in the afternoon.
I had the summit to myself and still didn't see anyone until maybe 25 minutes down the trail.
Started seeing people and counted 11 ascending the Crystal Peak trail on my way down.
Back at the junction the crowds were out in force.
I would count 56 heading up this 1 1/4 mile section of trail on my way down.
Still a couple more pictures.
Back at the parking lot at about 11:30AM the 5 cars (including mine) would have multiplied into at least 50 cars.
Traffic was bad on the way home as well.
Still the case for going early lives on:
1) I had the trail and summit all to myself
2) The hike up was 99% in the shade and cool
3) You don't use up the whole day.
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