Summer is right around the corner which has us thinking about what trails to hike; as soon as all this snow melts that is. Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Crested Butte and throughout the Gunnison Valley. Each summer our trails attract tourists and locals alike in search of beautiful wildflowers as well as stunning vistas. The Gunnison National Forest offers hundreds of miles of trails to explore for hikers of all skill levels. Here are some of our favorite local hikes:
Crested Butte Area
The trail leaves one mile west from Gothic (trail 739), hike up to Judd Falls following the Copper Creek trail. Continue along until markers to Copper Pass/Triangle Pass (trail 1981) are seen. Follow the trail over Triangle Pass and down into the valley along Conundrum Creek, this leads to Conundrum Hot Springs. The trail winds through forests and eventually along steep, slide hill with much loose rock.
9 miles one way
Crested Butte Summit Trail
Park in the visitors parking area at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. There is a kiosk where maps can be obtained. Tickets are available at the Ski area ticket office or Peak Sports in the Treasury Center. Follow a walkway to the Silver Queen Chairlift, which will take you to the trailhead. The trail is well marked and will take you to the summit of Crested Butte Mountain through tall timber, across tundra and a scree field. There are spectacular views in all directions from the summit. Your return is a hike down the mountain (about 6 miles) or a ride down the chairlift.
Elk Creek/Gunsight Pass
Take Kebler Pass Road west for 4.6 miles to a steep ravine on your right. Park here. Hike trail on right up left side of stream. At the Standard Mine, take right road uphill to the top of Gunsight Pass. Return down the same way you came. You can see many old mines on this hike; avoid shafts, dangerous openings and equipment.
4 – 5 miles
Fossil Ridge Trail
Take Highway 50 east to Parlin. Turn left at Parlin and go about 8 miles to Ohio City. Turn left on Gold Creek Road and drive to the Gold Creek Campground. The Fossil Ridge Trailhead is directly across from the Gold Creek Campground on the left side of the road. This trail in the Fossil Ridge Recreation Management Area climbs up several switchbacks then levels out once on the ridge. Boulder Lake can be accessed from this trail at about 4 miles. The Fossil Ridge Trail also accesses the Mill Lake and Summerville Trails into the Fossil Ridge Wilderness and the Willow Creek Trail. The views from the Fossil Ridge Trail are spectacular as you look to the mountains south and east.
Gunnison Spur of the Colorado Trail
East on Highway 50 to McDonald’s. Turn left and go to the first stop sign. Turn right and travel around the college campus about halfway up the hill. Park in the eastern edge of the lot for the WSC library. Cross the road to gain access to the trail. The trail climbs steadily to the radio towers then follows a 2 track road up the crest of rolling hills to the top of Signal Peak. It continues for many miles along roads and trails.
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
West on Highway 50, 1/2 mile west of town, before you cross the Gunnison River, turn left onto Gold Basin Road (CR 38). Travel 2.8 miles to the sign marking the entrance to the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. This area is a network of both dirt roads and single track trails. The single track trails are marked with numbered posts on each end. You will hike through rolling hills of sagebrush, granite rock formations and cottonwood groves. A separate brochure is available for this area from the Gunnison Chamber of Commerce.
1/2 to 30 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Wherever you go in the Gunnison Valley, you are never far from some of the most magnificent National Forest land in the country. Whether your preference is for day trips, overnight backpacking, or multiple day traverses and loops in the West Elk mountain range, the Crested Butte area offers a hiking trail for everyone. Check out additional local trails as well as hiking guidelines here: Crested Butte Hiking.
For more great hikes around Colorado, read: Take A Hike: 6 Trails To Hike This Summer
So what are you waiting for? Grab your boots, water bottle, and favorite hiking buddy and check out the amazing hiking our great state has to offer! Put your endurance to the test while seeking some of the most majestic sights Mother Nature has to offer. Many of these hikes are sure to take your breath away with their views as well as inclines.
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