Crested Butte, Colorado, is known for its stunning hiking trails, offering breathtaking vistas of the Rocky Mountains.
Hiking can range from beginner to expert level and can be enjoyed year round.
Summertime offers mild temperatures and lush greenery, while wintertime provides hikers with the chance to explore the area under a blanket of snow.
The renowned Crested Butte Wildflower Festival takes place in July and draws hikers from all around to marvel at the beauty of nature. Crested Butte hikers will find a variety of trails that are perfect for day hikes or an overnight backpacking trip.
There are also plenty of good dining and lodging options available once your hike is complete.
Hiking and Peak Bagging Guides in Crested Butte:
Crested Butte’s Notable Hiking Trails:
Lower Loop (Easy)
This 7.2-mile loop trail near town. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 2 h 31 min to complete. This is a very popular area for hiking and mountain biking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring.
Upper Loop (Intermediate)
A short trail with a few rocky spots – makes for a great connector. The first and last parts of this trail are easy and smooth, the only part that makes this somewhat difficult is the rocky section in the trees, which is short. If hiking from town, head east out of town on Elk Avenue and left on the gravel path just before a cattleguard to connect to the Rec Path up to the town of Mt. Crested Butte. Turn right on Hunter Hill Road go a short distance and turn right again on the continuation of HHR on the right. Hike down, then up past The Overlook turnoff. The singletrack starts at the first hard left switchback, where there is a parking area and a trail sign. After a couple moderate climbs, descend a rocky section then head through the open meadows.
A trail that scurries the side of a hill with spectacular views of Crested Butte and the mountains. The trail starts as a singletrack then turns into a doubletrack, then back to singletrack. You’ll pass over a handful of cattle guards along the way. The trail is mostly in open fields with little tree cover, but every once in a while you’ll go through a grove of aspen. Views of the Slate River Valley are stunning with blooming Lupine and various other flowers in summer.
Gunsight Pass (Intermediate)
A gentle road grade connecting the Scarp Ridge Trail and Mt. Emmons Trail to the Slate River. An old mining road grade that ascends from the Slate River at the Gunsight Bridge through Wolverine and Redwell Basin to Mt. Emmons. Start by following the signs towards the upper lower loop trail. Instead of turning onto the trail, continue along the road as it ascends providing consistently awesome views.
Start from either trailhead to meander through aspens and meadows along the south side of Snodgrass Mountain. The Snodgrass Trail is mostly mellow, rolling singletrack, with a couple of steeper pitches and some mildly technical sections with rocks and roots. Frequent use and excellent signage make the trail easy to follow. Start from either trailhead for a great out and back hike, or, from the east side of Gothic Road, you can easily connect to Lower Meander and all the summer Mt. Crested Butte trails. While Crested Butte summers tend to stay fairly mild, the midday sun can be intense, so Snodgrass presents an excellent shaded option. The views, the flowers, and the forest are always stunning—enjoy!
Oh Be Joyful (intermediate)
The Oh-Be-Joyful trail ascends up a picturesque glacial valley on the east side of the Ruby Range. The Oh-Be-Joyful Pass trail ascends up a picturesque glacial valley on the east side of the Ruby Range. The upper portion of the valley is well watered with lush greenery and an excellent wildflower display. With the Ruby Range as a backdrop, this trail is a must-do.
Copper Creek (Intermediate/Difficult)
An intermediate hike that ends at East Maroon Pass above Copper Lake. This is a well marked intermediate trail. You pass by beautiful Judd Falls and follow Copper Creek all the way to Copper Lake. The elevation gain is mild except for one section toward the end with some switchbacks. Copper Creek Trail #983 is also a great starting spot for backpacking if you plan to head toward Triangle Pass, Copper Pass, or East Maroon Pass. In the summer, this is great trail for wildflower viewing.
Washington Gulch (Intermediate/Difficult)
A nice, in places steep, trail with great views. Washington Gulch Trail #403 begins just north of the Gothic Campground and climbs steeply for 0.8 miles through open meadows. As it turns south, the grade backs off and the singletrack cuts along the edge of the forest. Eventually you’ll hear the the sounds of Rock Creek as the trail begins to parallel and then cross over it. The next 0.5 miles follows a steeper climb through the trees to reach the ridge above. Hikers will get a nice little reprieve before the singletrack surges up the ridgeline with a few switchbacks from which to enjoy the expansive views to nearby slopes. Once the climbing peaks, the trail soon turns again and begins a descent through pleasant meadows to end at a parking area on FSR #811 at just above 11,000 feet.
Rustler Gulch (Intermediate)
This is a beautiful trail that travels through one of Crested Butte’s most scenic valleys.
Trail 419 (Difficult)
A steep trail with a few technical spots. Trail 419 starts at the parking area next to the old Irwin lodge and eventually merges with the Scarp Ridge Trail. The trail splits off to the left about a 1/2 mile up the trail from the Irwin lodge parking area. There are rock cairns marking the split and a well-defined trail going off to the left. The trail has a pretty consistent grade but flattens out towards the top.
Scarp Ridge (Intermediate/Difficult)
Ridge hiking at its finest with incredible views of the Ruby Range and Paradise Divide. This trail starts can be accessed from a small parking area near the old Irwin Lodge via either Trail 419 or Trail 421. Start at the signed path prior to the chain gate and ascend this trail through a wildflower-covered hillside to the ridge. Take a moment to enjoy the views and follow the primitive trail east along the ridge. If you ever get lost in some of the bushes, just remember to stay high on the ridge. When you reach the Gunsight notch you can either continue to the summit of Mt. Emmons or head north down the Gunsight road to the Slate River.
Trail mapping and info p/b Hiking Project.
Our Favorite Crested Butte Peak Hikes:
Mt Crested Butte Summit (Moderate)
Try this 1.5-mile out-and-back trail near Crested Butte, Colorado. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 h 11 min to complete. This is a popular trail for hiking and running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. You’ll need to leave pups at home — dogs aren’t allowed on this trail. Hikers wanting to access this route as mapped here should take the Silver Queen Express chairlift to Elfin Pass and prepare to do a short but steep hike the the top of Crested Butte at 12,162 feet.
Gothic Mountain via Trail 403 (Hard)
Get to know this 7.6-mile out-and-back trail near Crested Butte, Colorado. Generally considered a challenging route. This is a popular trail for hiking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The best times to visit this trail are April through October. Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas.
Mt. Emmons (Intermediate/Difficult)
A primitive trail to the summit of Mt. Emmons with views of the entire range and Crested Butte! This primitive trail ascends from the Gunsight Notch to the summit of Mt. Emmons. From here you get excellent views of the town of Crested Butte, the Ruby Range, West Elk Wilderness, the Paradise Divide, and the Elk Mountains. A worthwhile detour while running or hiking the Scarp Ridge Trail.
Teocalli Mountain via Trail #554 (Difficult)
A great mountain ascent with beautiful Elk Mountain scenery!
When West Brush Creek Road (738.2A) ends, take a right to get on Teocalli Mountain Trail. The climb gets tough, but that is offset by stunning Elk Mountain scenery. When you get near the top of the ridge you’ll take a right onto Teocalli Ridge Trail.Hang a left to bag 13,208′ Teocalli Mountain as an out and back. If you do this, be sure of the route & plan accordingly with energy & layers.
Mount Axtell rises in the Elk Mountains of Colorado near the town of Crested Butte. While less than 2 miles away from Crested Butte on a straight line, Mt. Axtell is not visible from town. Its southwestern slopes are gentle and seem to be covered by a pine forest. The northeastern slopes are steep and rocky going down to the 10600 ft high Green Lake. A trail starts in Crested Butte and goes to Green Lake. The lake can also be reached via a shorter trail that starts on Kebler Pass Road. Before reaching the lake, I left trail and found my own way up a northeastern ridgeline on Mount Axtell. The lower parts of the ridgeline were steep and scree covered requiring much care. Farther up, trees brought some stability to the slopes. I found the summit register directly on top of the ridgeline that I climbed although the USGS Map marks a spot to the southeast as the true summit. Reaching the true summit seemed to involve an easy hike on gentle grassy slopes. Note about the trail from Crested Butte to Green Lake: Maps show a trail that starts in the town of Crested Butte and goes up a short distance to Journeys End Road, where you hike the road a little and then enter the forest on the trail only to find yourself soon on Wildcat Road where you again have to walk the road before finally getting onto the trail to Green Lake. When I was in the area I found that Wildcat was a private gated road and the sign on Journeys End Road said if you park here, you will be towed. You must therefore park in Crested Butte (no shortcuts). For this reason I decided to take the shorter trail from Kebler Pass Road to Green Lake. This trail required stream crossing. – Nader via SummitPost
Mt Owen (Ruby Range)
Mount Owen’s easiest route is a class one route that follows an improbable looking path up its South Ridge from the saddle between Ruby Peak and Mount Owen. This saddle can be accessed by an old mining road. Despite the narrowness of this undulating ridge a very passable trail goes all the way to the summit. The delight in ascending this mountain via its South Ridge is walking up this narrow sidewalk in the sky above rotten cliffs with a sea of aspen below. Mount Owen can also be combined with adjacent summits of the Ruby Range. Ruby Peak allows access from the south and Purple Peak allows access from the North (via Oh-Be-Joyful Pass). A very interesting route can be had by following Ruby Peaks South ridge to Ruby’s summit and then following the standard route. This rather loose ridge flirts with the Grand Dike and offers some unparalleled scenery. – JonBradford via SummitPost
Crested Butte Lodging: