Climb to the highest point of the 500-square-foot Grand Mesa – the largest such landform in the world – and traverse through pine forests and wildflower-dotted meadows on this 9.5-mile loop through Grand Mesa National Forest. The counterclockwise route described here begins at the east trailhead near Eggleston Lake, but the trail can also be accessed from the west trailhead near mile marker 27 on CO 65. From Eggleston Lake, head north and bear right at the Y-junction at mile 0.2 to head past the western banks of Upper Eggleston Lake. Continue uphill at a mild grade before hitting the precipitous ascent (500 feet in 0.6 mile) to the Crag Crest ridgeline.
Traverse the Crest’s rocky, sometimes knife-edge spine while enjoying limitless 360-degree panoramas of the surrounding mountain country: the San Miguel, La Plata, San Juan, West Elk and La Sal ranges are all visible. After reaching the Crests’s high point (11,189 feet), continue heading west until hitting a 2.1-mile downhill just before mile 4. At waypoint 6, you’ll reach the junction for the west trailhead. Bear left to begin the trail’s lower section, which swings between thick forests of pine and aspen and bustling meadows of larkspur and bluebell. The grade from here is easy as you round out the remaining four miles to Eggleston Lake.
It is recommended to complete the Crest portion of the hike in the morning to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Visit the National Forest Service’s Web site for more information and a map of Crag Crest National Recreation Trail.
-Mapped by Chris Hood
- Distance: 15.4
Location: 39.048209, -107.937428
Start: Eggleston Lake trailhead. Parking available in dirt pullout next to lake.
Location: 39.05006, -107.936441
Bear right at Y-junction to head toward Upper Eggleston Lake and Crag Crest.
Location: 39.060116, -107.925782
Switchbacks leading to Crag Crest gain 500 feet over next 0.6 mile.
Location: 39.059716, -107.965307
Begin a 2.1-mile descent.
Location: 39.054918, -107.981787
Bear left at junction.
Location: 39.045403, -107.992086
Bear left to stay on Crag Crest Trail. Right fork leads to CO 65 (0.2 mile).
Upper Eggleston Lake
Location: 39.052536, -107.932517
Pass Upper Eggleston Lake on your way to Crag Crest.
Location: 39.061386, -107.927361
Snag views of Butts Lake to the southwest as you climb toward Crag Crest.
Location: 39.062044, -107.935475
Enjoy 360-degree views while traversing Crag Crest's rocky spine.
Crags Crest Trail
Location: 39.06205, -107.935508
Crag Crest: Summit
Location: 39.060764, -107.942478
Reach Crag Crest's high point (11,189 feet).
Descending Crag Crest
Location: 39.059817, -107.957294
Butterfly and Wildflowers
Location: 39.046367, -107.983653
Lower Crag Crest Trail
Location: 39.046964, -107.982192
The trail's lower loop meanders through wildflower-dotted meadows.