Written by Vivika Stamolis
Summer terrain abounds with vibrant wildflowers and volcano views. These top three hiking trails offer a special way of experiencing the mountain, up close and personal with the land. Time to lace up and hit the trails!
No need to leave your furry friend at home- dogs are welcome on leash. While you are exploring, be mindful of the delicate vegetation and meadows so we can all enjoy them for years to come. Take only pictures and leave what you find.
Read on for hiking information including gear tips, wildflower sightings, and the top 3 hikes on the mountain.
Bullion Basin Trail #1156
2.5 miles – 2,100 feet elevation gain – Base to top
This short and steep trail is nice and shaded in the morning for a cool adventure out of the valley on a hot summer day. Common wildflowers on this hike include alpine paintbrush, lupine, and aster. Park in the lot at Crystal Mountain, start at the Summer Trail Map sign above the Chapel. Hike about ¼ mile straight up Gold Hills Road. From there, the trail climbs 1.4 miles through moderate subalpine forest crossing a bridge over a stream where your furry friends can drink. Continue gaining elevation up easy switchbacks, intersecting de-commissioned ski runs from the 1970’s. Once in the Basin, the trees open to a grassy meadow with meandering streams that may be marshy early season. From this point, the trail becomes much steeper and challenging, reaching the Pacific Crest Trail at the ridge in about .8 miles.
Silver Creek Trail #1192
2.3 miles – 1,480 feet elevation gain
This popular trail leads to the remote Henskin Lake, prime for fly-fishing or taking a nap in the afternoon sun. Common wildflowers on this hike include alpine paintbrush, aster, and lupine. Park in the lot at Crystal Mountain and start at the Summer Trail Map sign above the Chapel. Hike up the short steep Gold Hills Road above the Chapel for about ¼ mile. From there, follow the wide trail traversing past a decommissioned avalanche control gun tower. Cross the Gold Hills ski run, under the chair. You will come upon an old gold mine on the steep bank where you will then cross a bridge over a river. Continue up a moderate incline with a few narrow and rocky sections. Upon the stream crossing, follow the sign right to Henskin Lake, taking care while stone-stepping over the water. After another ½ mile you will reach the lake at 5,480 feet, where the sun shines on the shallow water, home to small Brook Trout. Please keep dogs leashed and enjoy the peaceful alpine lake.
Green Valley Trail to Kelly’s Gap Road
3.3 miles – 2,500 feet descent
This is a popular and scenic trail from the top to the base of Green Valley*, offering a moderate challenge to your day, easily accessed from the top of the gondola. You’ll need a gondola ticket to ride up to the summit. Head down the ridgeline, north of the gondola, towards Green Valley chair to start. Cross underneath the chair and head towards Rinky Dink Pass, admire the great views, and try identifying common wildflowers including aster, lupine, western anemone, spreading phlox, gray’s lovage, and false hellebore. Meander down Green Valley to meet Kelly’s Gap Road by the base of the Green Valley chair where this trail ends, then hike back up to the top to ride the gondola back down.
*There is the option to continue down along Kelly’s Gap Road to the base, however it is not recommended due to the loose gravel on this Service Road.
HIKING GEAR GUIDE
- Proper clothing & layers*
- Proper hiking shoes/boots
- Sunglasses & sunscreen
- Fire starter & matches
- First aid kit & knife
- Headlamp / flashlight
*Always bring extra!