Crystal Lake is open, however, campsites are no longer available for reservation on Recreation.gov. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Located near the lake at the Crystal Lake Recreation Area and San Gabriel Canyon at an elevation of 5,600 feet. The climate is nice. Areas for tents are provided. Motorized boats are not allowed on the lake.
ADA Access: N
Camped here last year in September. Close and convenient campground however would not return. Noisy at night. When we were cooking meals, dozen of bees would swarm around our food. We had to cook and eat quickly for the bees to go away. There was plenty of shade under the trees. There are small trails near the campground as well. The lake was more of a mucky and algae filled pond. But was a decent trail around with the dog. First camping trip for the doggie and she got pretty scared of the wolves howling at night. Not an outdoorsy doggie.
Mind you, we went on a Saturday morning during Covid to escape our house but so many others had the same idea. First of all the gates for the campsites were locked but that didn't stop anyone from walking their stuff in, including us. Our spot was nice and had lots of shade. The only drawback was the one open vault toilet that was pretty dirty. Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go. I thought, dang I shouldn't brought my poop bucket!! If I only would've known!! Who can't pop a squat in the dark though?! It was pretty rowdy at night with someone yelling at the top of their lungs and a dog barking but hey, we were under the stars and not couped up at home or with masks on. I wasn't complaining. I love nature and I'll ignore the drunks. Other than that, there is a little store that Adam and his family run. They are great!! The brownies are bomb, so get one early. They also tent cabins up there so give them a call. Great people! It's definitely convenient and worth the effort!
Looks like I arrived at the peak of their off-season. Complete fire ban, including gas stoves. Trash littered the campground and only one bathroom open. Gates are closed, so you have to park on the street and walk in. Only two other tents in this giant, beautiful campground. I wish I knew when season was so I could see what the regular vibe is like. Several trails and lake access nearby.
Cafe by the campground only has a handful of items, hamburger and hot dog and other basic stuff. Store was well stocked with junk food, but not much I would consider “camping supplies.”
Overall it looked like a neglected campground and recreation area but during season it’s probably a fun place to be.
We’ve done Crystal Lake probably 6 dozen times or more in our time in California and it never disappoints on the spectacular views. Its not dispersed but definitely slightly more rustic than people plan for. The number of people who come up here in the winter and are shocked that the piped ground water is frozen, are well, “special”. That being said in the summer you can make the most out of what the campsites offer but get ready to get in line. Since it’s so close to LA and touts often as the place to go for newbie campers you get all kinds of kinds. Any summer holiday weekend spent up here will be filled with drunk yelling and loud radios. Its par for the course. That being said as soon as the temperature drops and/or precipitation hits this place is much emptier and filled with much more experienced and considerate campers. I come from rural western PA, so this is our bread and butter. PS you cannot beat the food at the store or the ambiance, hot cocoa is only minutes away by foot with friendly service and a happy smile. Easy access to source your own firewood locally, and the hiking trails are numerous with amazing views and a high chance of solitude. All in all great for around the year, experienced campers who can stand weather, worth it to hold out for LA’s “off season”.
Spent the night here and it's not bad at all. The night I went there was a retreat or something that played music through 11pm.
The walk to the lake from this site isn't too bad; it's quiet nice. Around the lake you'll find some short hikes.
If you've ever want to just get away and go unplugged for a day, is highly recommend this place considering it's under $15/night.
Sundown by 6pm for us!
Whenever I need to get away from LALA Land, I head up here. I grew up in the mountains of western Pennsylvania, so , sometimes , I need to kick back and recharge. Sort of going back to factory settings, as it were.
There are lots of cool spots up here and plenty of quiet. Whether you like to hike, or fish or just kick back, this is a nice little hidey hole to do it in. There is a small , 2 acre lake that is occasionaly stocked with fish. Not so often during drought, though.
There are few amenities , such as no showers no close by stores, or other distractions. There is a small concessionaire store near the Ranger outpost. It may or may not be open, depending on the fire danger and the time of year. Take your own food, water and anything else you need to regain your sanity and go up here.
Don't forget your bear canister for your food. There are bears and other wildlife that live up here year round.
Enjoy the peace and quiet and reclaim your soul.
I have camped here a few times and it is one of my favorite go to spots. I like that there is a camp store near by just incase case someone forgets their coffee mug🙄 or if you need some more firewood. The spots are inexpensive, $10 per night, most nights. There are lots of trails to hike and things to explore. It's a nice place to go when you need to get away from the city.
This was a great camping spot with the guys!
Stayed here two nights in August, it was nice and cool a good break from the heat. There are a lot of sites here for camping unfortunately they are not all open for use. There are several hiking trails here that are well used and well maintained. This is a great campground near the city. Due to lack of rainfall and snow melt the lake is almost dry.
We came on a Saturday afternoon, and even though 4 of the sections of camping were closed off - we found an AMAZING space in section D. It wasn’t right next to the bathrooms, but the site was spaced out enough that we had plenty of privacy. It was right next to the trail head, too!
The lake isn’t back actually near the site, and they don’t allow for swimming. However, there is a recreational area 20 minutes down the mountain on the lake.
It was $17 per night, and was an easy & beautiful drive up the mountain.
Fire pit had a grill on it, too!