If you enjoy a great hike with a fair amount of climbing and panoramic views, then hiking Anthracite Pass Trail in Colorado’s Crystal River Valley is for you.
White River National Forest
There are many wonderful hiking trails in this section of White River National Forest, but the Anthracite Pass hike has taken a top spot on my list.
We’ve been coming to this part of Colorado for decades. It is a beautiful section of the U.S., and every year it seems that more people are discovering the hiking trails around Marble, Co.
Personally, I’ve hiked Treasure Mountain, Mount Daly, Ragged Mountain (Raspberry Creek), as well as shorter treks to Crystal Mill, Avalanche Creek, and parts of Lily Lake. This year was our first experience on the Anthracite Pass trail.
Almost every bit of it was scenic. We hiked through aspen and evergreen stands, across wildflower meadows and gurgling creeks.
Getting to Anthracite Pass Trail
There are two ways to reach the Anthracite Pass trail, where you’ll find spectacular views.
Both choices include steep climbs, but special gear isn’t necessary.
You can begin the hike from the Yule Creek trail head, or the Raspberry Creek trail head, both of which are accessed via the Marble Quarry Road out of Marble, CO.
To get to the Yule Creek trail head, take the Marble Quarry Road about 2 3/4
miles. The Yule Creek trail head is on your right, about 1/4 mile before the marble quarry.
This portion of the Yule Creek trail is very steep, but it is a shorter climb. Soon after beginning to hike up the Yule Creek Trail, (and just when you think you won’t make it!) take a right turn onto the Anthracite Pass Trail.
We chose to begin the hike at the Raspberry Creek trail head. It is located about 1/2 mile up the quarry road from Marble. You should park in Marble and hike up the road.
After beginning the Raspberry Creek trail, you will hike about a mile before reaching a fork. You can take the right fork to stay on the Raspberry Creek trail; we chose the left, heading up to Anthracite Pass.
You Can Make It!
The route we took is just shy of a ten mile loop, including the Marble Quarry Road (3C).
The trail is rated moderate to difficult. I am 58 years old, and am in decent shape, but not an extreme exerciser. The climb was challenging (when is the “up” ever going to end??!) but not excruciating.
Reaching the pass is an awesome experience. The panoramic views are some of the most heart-stopping I’ve seen around here.
If you get to the pass via Raspberry Creek Trail, be aware that if you continue on the Anthracite Trail to the Yule Creek Trail making a loop, you still have quite a hike to get back.
To shorten the hike, just head back the way you came in via the Raspberry Creek Trail.
With some caution, stamina, and planning, you will fall in love with this hike, too.
Summer Wildflowers on the Trail
What would a hike be without noting the flora and fauna around you?
Colorado wildflowers are vivid and plentiful during the summer months, so don’t forget to bring your camera.
It must be something about the crisp, clean air, piercing sunlight, and cool evenings (50° F) that makes the flowers just a little bit bigger and a little bit brighter.
Just like in the eastern U.S., delphinium shines blue in the mountains. It is a member of the buttercup family. The name delphinium comes from the closed flower’s resemblance to a dolphin.
Fairy Slipper Orchid
Yellow Avalanche Lily
As you can imagine, there aren’t a lot of dining choices once you complete your day hike. You probably will be too hungry to wait to get back to Carbondale or Glenwood Springs.
However, there are two great options in the vicinity.
Slow Groovin’ Barbecue, Marble, Co.
This place is a destination for many travelers around the Crystal River Valley. The reason? It serves the best pork barbecue, and you can get some mean brisket, too. There’s outdoor seating, or indoor, if you prefer. The craft cocktails are outstanding.
Redstone Inn Grill
The historic Redstone Inn is about 25 minutes from Marble, on Highway 133. The Inn has a full service restaurant that is excellent, but for more casual dining, head for the grill. Here, you can enjoy sandwiches, burgers, salads, and selected entrees. If the weather permits, enjoy your nosh poolside.
A Good Night’s Rest
After hiking and dinner, you will find yourself reflecting on what a memorable day it’s been. Physically strenuous, yes; but, worth every ounce of sweat! Plus, you definitely burned off enough to treat yourself to a piece of pie.
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