“A great way to connect Elk Meadows to Chimney Creek (Birthday Trail).
— TJ Budge
No restrictions, but it's best in late May / early June before the cows take over.
Most people start at the West Fork
trailhead, but you can get there from Gibson Jack or Crystal Summit. Either way, make your way to the southwest corner of the Elk Meadows loop where Crystal Summit road connects.
There is a cow pond in the meadow next to Crystal Summit road. Take the singletrack (often looks like a cow trail) through the meadow, passing a cow pond on your right. Ride up the meadow, through a small thicket of trees, and across a smaller meadow, where the trail enters the woods. After a short and easy climb through the woods the trail breaks open into a large meadow where it starts angling down. Stick to this trail, heading south, down the Crystal Springs drainage. About halfway down the creek will be crystal clear from springs bubbling up. Eventually the trail forks where a tributary drainage comes in from the west. Bear left up a short steep climb. From here the trail turns west up the tributary drainage, eventually topping out on Crystal Summit road.
If you started at the West Fork
trailhead, take Chimney Creek (Birthday Trail)