Crystal, Colorado, US
02. Road to Crystal to Beaver Lake (Crystal Gorge)
||V+ (for normal flows)
Pine Tree Falls
Pine Tree FallsPhoto of Adam Barron by Brian Adkins taken 07/03 @ 300 cfs
Possibly the very best hair run in Colorado! Unfortunatley it is very short. The run is roughly
divided into two halves, the upper and lower gorges. The upper gorge is very technical
eastern-style pool-drop ledgy stuff. The lower gorge is a deep dark scary place that can make grown
The first set of drops is pretty representative of the difficulty to expect in the upper gorge,
wood hazards, steep slides and ledges, must make moves, etcÂ
If you donÂt like what you see
tuck your tail between your legs and hike back up to your truck! About 2/3 down the upper gorge
is Pine Tree Falls(the biggest drop of the upper gorge), the rock wall on the right side looks
hideous but itÂs a classic case of Âboats easier than it looksÂ. Below Pine Tree is about 100
yards of continuous Class V before you get to the "steep and bony one". This last fall has a fine
line and you donÂt want to miss the takeout eddy at the bottom! You are now at the start of the
lower gorge, the price of admission is Zute Chute - a 40 foot waterfall. Fortunately those of us
without rubber spines can make a short technical scramble river left up to an old miners grade.
You canÂt really scout the rest from the grade because the lower gorge is bound deep in 200 to
400 foot tall cliffs. Either have a guide for the lower gorge or be prepared to bring climbing
gear to scout from the gorge rim. The takeout for the lower gorge is a beautiful emerald pool
that allows a chance to escape river left, just above Millers Falls. Millers Falls is a series of
about five or six waterfalls back-to-back. They are fun to look at but mere mortals have a long
portage down river left to the safety of the Class II below. After about a mile of Class II you
get to the berm that separates Beaver Lake from the Crystal, carry over it and paddle across the
lake to your truck.
For a great article about a misadventure in the Crystal Gorge check out ColoradoKayaking.com.
For pics of Crystal Gorge and many other Colorado classics check out my Webshots photo album.
To get there: From the town of Marble head east on the main road towards the town of
Crystal. At the edge of town you will pass Beaver Lake, the take-out. From Beaver Lak continue up
the road towards Crystal on a Class IV 4X4 road until you go up and over a small mountain and
back down to the river. Put in at the small pullout next to the river.
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Last Updated: 2009-02-27 10:39:49