Down, down, down!
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Unique in the state, with about a half-mile of elevation drop. Newly expanded for this weekend's tourney to a full 18 holes, without sharing the lower course. Folks told me that will be a permanent expansion.
It's free. The gondola ride to the top (and 1st tee) is $22 for adults, but you can walk up for nothin'. I did that 2 weeks ago - took a hair over 1.5 hours.
Cons: Expect to lose disc(s), especially in the updraft we encountered today and two weeks earlier. (I lost 3 two weeks ago in a fairly strong wind, and found another, unmarked one. Today I lost 2, including the one I found before.) Difficult footing. Some of the patches of trees are very dense. If your knees or other joints are anything less than bombproof, bring whatever reinforcement you use for long, steep descents.
Other Thoughts: This ain't no city park. It's a mountain ski area, with steep runs that are mostly avalanche chutes with a few trails and steep gravel roads added. You'll be distracted by wild strawberries in early summer, then huckleberries later, but also ankle-twisting rocks hidden under the bushes.
Some of the shots are along the service road that winds past the ski lifts; others are long bombs down the steep meadows. I saw one today that curved way out to the right, over the treetops, left us in suspense, whether it would fall into the forested ravine right, or back into the the open, then faded left and kicked dust onto the basket pole, 800+ feet from the tee! Come to Crystal summit to (maybe) see shots like that, and almost certainly see others that go almost as far, but in entirely the wrong direction.
If you can't handle the risk and the marginal footing, this isn't your course.
Open in Summer only, of course. This year it will close after September 18.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Nothing else like it
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Crystal Mountain DGC is pretty well known around the Northwest for being a behemoth. One can always skip the soul crushing Summit course and play the lower one, but what's the fun in that? I still haven't played lower. Someday, when I'm in the area and don't feel like shelling out $25 to ride the gondola, I will. That review happens when I've played it. So today we'll focus on Summit:
Equipment: Like any other temporary course, there are temporary baskets and natural tees. This is inescapable. The baskets catch well and were all level, and the tees are pretty level as well. They aren't very long, but despite the length of the holes you don't need much of a runup because it's all downhill.
Navigation: They have maps at the shop at the base. I highly recommend getting one. Most of the tees are relatively close to the preceding basket (with the exception of hole 3), but the signage is pretty sparse and close to the ground. Something more colorful or taller, and tape on the baskets would be helpful. But so is the map. Get the map.
Design: I'm not sure who was possessed to put a course on this mountain, but if you're reading this? Thank you. Hole 1 is just below the top of the gondola, so you can start out your round with breathtaking views (and two pretty boring holes). Then, after hiking a quarter mile to the next tee, you begin the destruction. Of your bag. And your legs. And your self esteem. But it's all worth it the first time you get ahold of one and watch it disappear down the mountain. I'm getting away from the design here, but the experience at Crystal is one of a kind. You have to do it at least once if you're physically capable. Bring DX discs and discs you don't mind losing, because you'll probably lose them. One person I played with lost three discs in three straight throws, before losing his fourth on the next hole. It's exhausting. Then someone else I was with let loose a drive on hole 4 that landed 10' from the next chairlift pole downhill from the 6 teepad. I've never seen a disc fly that far. It would not fade. The beauty of a disc in flight for so long that you can barely even see it anymore makes up for the hours spent on the mountain. That's why you play Crystal. To truly appreciate a disc in flight.
But back to design.:This course offers a decent mix of long and super long, but also shorter. There are, of course, hyzer and anhyzer shots abounding throughout the round. For the most part the course follows ski runs, so nothing technical, but it does allow you to throw the shots you're comfortable throwing. It also has a good balance. You throw a few shorter shots, then a few crushers. Then you're playing a few 250' holes across a flat area before meeting up with the lower course and more downhill bombs.
I don't have a category for wildlife, but the wildlife is awesome. I'd never seen an elk in the wild before. Now I have. And a grouse (or some other chicken-like bird). And squirrels. And a marmot. It's not just the wildlife. It's the nature in general. You have to get your mind off of your round and focus on the beauty around you. You'll never find anything like it on any other course.
Cons: Equipment: No real cons. The baskets aren't perfect and the teepads are natural, but as previously stated: This can't be helped. And it doesn't take away from one's enjoyment of the course.
Navigation: There needs to be more visible signage and ribbons. I went into this already too. The walkout from 2 to 3 is pretty well impossible to figure out without a map, so some extra signage would be nice for anyone who forgot to pick one up.
Design: The aforementioned walkout is the only real con here. I realize that there are other hikers in that area, but it really is the longest walkout I've ever seen. They could have easily fit another hole in between, and then lengthened one of the shorter holes further down the mountain to keep it at 18. I'm sure they had their reasons, but it's all okay once you step onto the 3 pad and see where you get to throw. I'm also pretty disappointed with hole 18. I've said it before in reviews. I want hole 18 to be memorable. I want it to be Terrace Creek. I just played down a friggin' mountain. Knock my socks off with the last hole. Don't just make it a chip shot across an open field.
Other Thoughts: You aren't going to play this course more than a few times a year. It takes plenty out of you. You lose discs. You spend way too much. And unless you live in Enumclaw, it's pretty far away. But it's worth the trip at least once a summer just to have the experience. Bring sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and bug spray. And keep your eyes everywhere. There's stunning scenery. Plus there's cool stuff on the ground. Like the rock I found with streaks of gold in it. Play Crystal Mountain for the experience. The experience of crushing a disc three times as far as you ever have. The experience of hiking a beautiful mountain. The experience of spending time in nature far away from the cares of your everyday life. It's not just about disc golf. It's about experiencing something breathtaking.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 2 Not
Mountain High Tournament Rocked
Pros: Challenging course due to winds, TIGHT fairway, massive ravines, and just a lot of challenging throws. The scenery is the best you are going to find on a disc golf course anywhere. Just throwing long isn't going to get you down the hill on this course, but placement is key.
Cons: VERY Windy, more likely than not that you will lose at least one or two discs on the top 5. LOTS of steep terrain to traverse. Can take 5-6 hours to play 18 holes (most taken up on the first 5 holes...)
Other Thoughts: This was an INCREDIBLE course. Others have said "not like ANY other course..." and that is true. I have never played or seen another course like this. It is challenging, difficult, but amazing and breathtaking. By the time I made it to the bottom, my calves were screaming from climbing down ravines to look for discs. All-in-all, this is still probably one of my favorite courses and I look forward to next year's Mountain High Tournament.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: If you want to throw far and watch your discs soar for a long time, the Summit course at Crystal Mountain is the place to go. The scenery is tremendous. There's a little restaurant at the top of the mountain by hole 1 and another at the end by 18.
You can pay $20 and ride the gondola to Hole 1 or you can hike straight up for 2,000 or more feet for free. Trust me, take the gondola.
Cons: Absolutely be prepared to lose a disc or two, or three or maybe four. Possible to lose five. Bring some discs that you don't care if you lose them. Why would someone rate this course 2 stars because they lost a disc or two? That is pretty weak.
Other Thoughts: The first two holes at the top are usually pretty windy and have drop offs if you veer off the fairway. From there, it's bombs away as the course heads down the mountain ski runs to the base lodge. There's a few level holes here and there but it's mostly long open downhill bombs where it takes a few seconds for your disc to land. Can't remember one uphill hole on the Summit course. That's my kind of disc golf, and why I rate this course so high despite the lack of variety of holes. I kept throwing the same disc over and over but it was so fun I didn't complain. The Summit course plays to the same #12 basket as the base course now, and holes 13-18 are the same holes on both the Summit and Base course.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 3 Not
It helps to be a mountain goat
Pros: Nice Scenery at the top, huge downhill throws. On a clear day you can see forever, or so it seems. The gondola ride is well worth the money and it takes you to the top pretty quickly. This course plays differently that just about any other course around. We played during the week and were sharing the course with one other group. If you want solitude, this course has it. We found the signage quite good and the course was easy to follow.
Cons: This course plays differently than just about any other course around. A gust of wind picks up your disc and carries it 500 feet past the target. You throw the disk just a little too high and it is 100 feet past the target. There aren't enough Es in STEEP to describe how very steep this course is. You are basically throwing your discs off a cliff, with the baskets very far below. If you play the hyzer right and the wind doesn't get you, you can get a par. Other than dealing with the altitude there is nothing technical about this course. The fields are wide open and have almost no use of the trees that are there. We lost 4 discs each. Searching for discs here is not like searching for them elsewhere. Once you've gone past the disc going down, it is hard to get motivated to climb back up to look again, especially when you are using throw away discs.
Other Thoughts: The best part of this course is launching discs off into space. If that is what attracts you then buy some used discs and launch them into space off hole one and ride the gondola back down. We had an interesting hike down playing the holes, but other than a couple really good flights on a couple of throws, I found nothing satisfying about playing this course. Once you figure out how to make the low throws required to be successful on this course, it is not all that difficult. The terrain is VERY difficult.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Spectacular Beauty With Some Great Downhill Drives But?
Pros: The summit course starts at the top of Gondola ride at the Top or where the restaraunt is. The views here of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, as well as the surrounding Cascade range are nothing short of stupendous. Take some time to enjoy them before beginning your round.
The first two holes are short little anhyser throws clinging to the hillside. A hyser mistake on these two might very well add a short mountain climbing adventure to the start of your round. A long, un-marked walkout eventually lands you at Powder Bowl and # 3, your first serious downhill bomb. The basket is perched just beyond the pond. The later in the summer season you play, the less of a factor the pond will probably be. The fierce winds might very well make up for that lack of water. # 4 is a blind hyser bomb where a spotter is recommended. # 5 is a long, downhill bomb where too much hyser/wind will probably carry it into the dense grove of trees. They look fairly harmless from the teebox but upon closer inspection are perched on a steep hillside and the footing in there is extremely treacherous. Be careful! The final five are all a little more straight forward. All are more basic down the mountain throws, 300-400', with the baskets in sight.
After finishing # 10, you join right up with # 11 from the lower course and finish your round of 18 that way.
Cons: The cons are pretty much the same as with all other ski resort courses I've played.
First for me is the fact that you are walking down over rough, uneven ground almost the entire time. This is no walk in the park.
Secondly, the teepads are scraped in the sides of the mountain. They range from decent at best to really bad or unsafe, at their worst.
Third, the wind can be a major element up here. If you're lucky, it might be calm. If unlucky, it can mostly ruin your round.
Fourth, having a birdie putt kick out of a single chain baskets is pretty frustrating.
Fifth, the signage is sub-standard.
Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and finally Nineth It's not for everyone, you're gonna lose a disc or two every round, you're gonna spend a fair amount of time looking for your discs, even the ones that landed on the fairways and lastly, having to ante up $20 to get to the top.
Other Thoughts: I just feel ski resort courses are gimmicky. Yeah, it's great fun to launch drives that sail majestically hundreds of feet downhill but that feeling is more than neutralized by all those drives that hyser off course into the nether world, never to be spoken of again.
So my question is? Does anyone really want to pay $20 every round, throw your back-up discs, fight the wind, the mountain, fatigue, terrible teepads and below average baskets for spectacular mountain scenery and the chance for some awesome downhill throws and a major challenge. Does anyone want to drive up here more than a few times a year?
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 2 Not
Lots of good and a little bad
Pros: breath taking views and scenery! fun experience. i am going back very soon. not a typical disc golf course, but very unique. it presents a challenge in its own.
Cons: unpredictable winds, dramatic elevation change from a lot of tees to holes. we found most of the tees, but without a little guidance, you may not discover all of them.
Other Thoughts: luckily we got an early start or we may have missed our opportunity to take the chairlift up. it runs from 10am - 2pm, saturday and sunday only. bring sunscreen if it's a sunny day as you will need it! overall i had fun and would suggest it to a fellow golfer. but i wouldn't recommend this course for beginners. i've been playing for over 10 years now and i lost a disc down the mountain on the 2nd hole. bring lots of water and good walking shoes/boots.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 1 Not
Crystal Mountain - Summit Course
Crystal Mountain Summit Course is located at the top of the mountain at 6,872 feet and is accessed by the Chinook and Rainier Express chairlifts. With striking views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Range, the course is easily one of the more picturesque places in the entire northwest! The scenic chairlifts are only open weekends and are well worth the price. However, if the $20 is not in your budget or you are there on a weekday, then you can always hike the two hours to the summit.
This mammoth of a course is very similar to the back nine on the Base Course, with big air, distance, and plenty of danger, just much more scenic. Because the course is so high up, snow still remains on several of the holes. Many of the holes tuck up against the mountainside, doglegging to the left. Some of the holes are dead straight, with only a few which dogleg right. All of the holes are par 3 and use the same temporary Lightning DB-5 baskets as the lower course. Tee pads are all rugged dirt patches which were dug out of the side of the hill, and vary in size. Tee signs are metal stakes which stick out of the ground about 2 feet tall, with large black numbers placed on a white sign. Although difficult to spot at times, many can be found if you stick along the gravel road.
Elements on this course are extreme, with ice, wind, elevation, and the sun. It is imperative that players bring the proper supplies including suntan lotion, sun glasses, hat, long sleeve shirt, light pants, boots, snacks, and plenty of water! Prepare yourself for the hike, and plan on it taking at least 2-3 hours for the summit course alone. Add another 2-3 hours more if you are planning on playing the back nine and 4 hours if you are playing the entire lower 18.
This course is just as remarkable as the lower course, and is the perfect addition to Crystal Mountain. However, like the lower course, the tee signs and tee pads are in some serious need of improvements. The signs although temporary, need to be larger and brighter so they can be easily spotted from previous pin. More arrows directing players to the next tee would help as well. Some of the dirt tee pads are the proper size, but many are unlevel, small, and to be honest unsafe.
Baskets are well made, but are single chained and don't catch very well outside 30 feet. With strong winds and constant elevation changes, putts must be strong but chain outs are frequent. Watch out for roll aways too!
There are several ways now to play Crystal Mountain which makes this place even more of a destination area. Players can play the 27 which involves playing the Base Front 9, Summit 9, then the Base Back 9. Players could also do the Base Front 9 and Summit 9 then ride the express chair all the way down. Last, the Summit 9 and then the Base Back 9. However, hole 10 on the Summit Course differs from the Base Course hole 10, but both connect at the same basket so just be aware. Make sure you bring several overstable discs you don't mind losing, as it is likely that you will lose at least one.
NOTE: During the tournament this year they turned the course from 10 to 18 holes and it was incredible! Hopefully all 18 holes will be put back up again at the beginning of the season next year.
** New gondola up and running **
Disclaimer: If you are a novice or intermediate, or suffer from bad knees, this course most likely is not for you.
It will challenge players who have a good sense of throwing in wind and those who know how to use huge elevation changes to thier advantage. Mids such as a buzzz or roc are best on this course!
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The summit course is in and boy is it spectacular. You have two decisions on how to get up to the top with either paying the $20 for the chairlift or going hardcore and hiking all the way up for free. Once you get to the top take pictures! Mt. Rainier looks HUGE because you are so close and Mt. Adams in the distance also unbelievable in it's size and beauty. Many times during the round you will want to stop to take in the scenery and take a rest as well. Once you play the first nine you have the option of taking the lifts back down to the lodge or playing the back nine of the bottom course to get to the bottom with hole ten on this course and the bottom course being the same basket but from this course you throw downhill instead of uphill at it.
This time of year there is still some snow up there and this keeps you cool on hot, sunny days more than 5000 feet above sea level. Since the course plays all down the mountain you get all of the big fun downhill throws without the pain of trying to play and hike uphill with your disc golf bag on. This course takes extra time to play to give yourself enough time to take it slowly and have fun.
Cons: The cons are fairly obvious, if you don't like elevation both for a disc golf course or for walking on then this course is not for you. You can catch the wind wrong or slightly screw up your throw and watch a disc sail into the abyss never to return. Since you are throwing so far downhill it is tough to judge where your disc landed and walking up and down the mountain to look for it is tiring to say the least. Most of the tee pads are dug out of the side of the mountain and others aren't manicured at all and have you throwing off the side of a hill with no footing and no chance for a run up. The baskets are all temporary ones with single chains and spit out many putts.
Other Thoughts: I recommend bring your "B" and "C" stock discs to avoid losing your favorite ones. I would recommend being extras in case you lose some even though it's more weight to pack around. Bring food, water, sunscreen and sunglasses while you're up there as well. There is talk of another nine holes going in to connect with this course somewhere but the details aren't clear yet. Stop by the Snorting Elk Lodge for food and drinks.
The gondola is now up and tickets cost $20 person to get to the top.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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