wildflower hike in Crested Butte

Wildflower Hikes in Crested Butte

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There are so many wildflower hikes in Crested Butte.  In fact, you don’t even need to hike in mid-July to see amazing wildflowers as they line Washington Gulch Road, Gothic Road, and FS 317.  It would be easy just to take a scenic drive to see the wildflowers in Crested Butte.  Personally, however, one of my favorite pastimes is hiking through wildflowers, and Crested Butte is one of the best places to do this.  There is a reason why Crested Butte calls itself the wildflower capital of Colorado.

Below is a List of Wildflower Hikes in Crested Butte, in No Particular Order

Gothic Mountain via 403 Trail (Hard)

Gothic Mountain via the 403 Trail from the Washington Gulch side is slightly difficult to reach.  It is advisable to have a high-clearance vehicle.  The trailhead is located across from a small dirt parking area which can accommodate about ten cars.

If just want to see wildflowers, just stay on the 403 Trail as the reward is easily worth the effort. which features magnificent wildflowers, then the hike is moderate.  I recommend hiking 1.6 miles one way to the overlook and perhaps down the following hill for the best wildflower experience.

Anyone who wishes for a harder hike, continue to the Gothic Mountain junction (poorly marked), and make the steep climb to the top of the 12,737 foot mountain.  Use my Happy Hiking: Gothic Mountain post for more details and directions to the trailhead via AllTrails.

wildflowers on gothic mountain

Snodgrass Trail (Easy)

The Snodgrass Trail may be hiked from the Washington Gulch Road or from Gothic Road.  The more popular location is from Gothic Road.  The array of colors on this wildflower mountainside is breathtaking.  For an easy hike from Gothic Road, just follow the 3.3 mile lollipop loop.  To add more difficulty, you may hike a spur route to Snodgrass Mountain, though there are not any views. For more details about this loop, visit my post Happy Hiking: Snodgrass Trail FS317.

wildflowers on snodgrass trail in crested butte

From the Washington Gulch Road, the wildflowers aren’t quite as prolific, but it is less crowded with easier parking and still beautiful!  The 5 mile out-and-back trail passes intermittently between wildflower meadows and aspen groves.  For more details about hiking this direction, visit my post Happy Hiking: Snodgrass Trail.

mariposa lily

Alternatively, if you have two cars, you can drop a car at the end and hike the entire trail one way.  In all, it doesn’t matter how you hike this trail, you won’t be disappointed.  It is a great wildflower hike in Crested Butte. 

Judd Falls Trail (Easy)

Judd Falls Trailhead is located just past the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.  Most of the wildflowers on this trail are at the beginning.  But if you want to get out for an easy short walk and see a waterfall in addition to wildflowers, then this wildflower hike in Crested Butte is a good choice for you.  Additionally, the trail includes a few interpretive signs for those interested in weather and geology.  For more detailed information, see my post Happy Hiking: Judd Falls Trail.

wildflowers on judd falls trail in crested butte

Scarp Ridge (Moderate)

It is a bit of a drive to Scarp Ridge, and it is best to have a high clearance vehicle.  That said, the hike which begins at an old mining town, now a catskiing facility affords wonderful wildflowers and breathtaking views. 

The wildflowers are found near the beginning and aren’t as prolific as those on previously mentioned trails, so you might save Scarp Ridge for a hike when you are looking for views.  Beware of impending weather on this 4.9 hike through the tundra.  For more details, see my post Happy Hiking: Scarp Ridge.

view from scarp ridge trail

Hasley Basin Loop (Moderate)

Wow!  Hasley Basin Loop, located off Schofield Pass is magnificent.  It does, however, require a high clearance vehicle and an early start.  This is a very popular area for hikers completing the Crested Butte/Aspen hike as well as the Four Pass Loop.

The trail begins in the forest, but quickly climbs past an old mining cabin to a hillside of wildflowers, at least 1.5 miles long.  It is a sea of gold.  At the trail junction, most people go right.  To hike the 5.2 mile Hasley Basin Loop, turn left.  You will hike to the ridge through more wildflowers before the trail becomes a little confusing without a map.  Be sure to download the AllTrails map by favoriting the trail.

The trail comes and goes, but soon is well defined as it passes through another remarkable meadow of wildflowers with a marble mountain backdrop.  And the best part is, no one goes this way, so you’ll have fields of wildflowers in Crested Butte all to yourself!  For more details about this hike, visit my post Happy Hiking: Hasley Basin Loop.

Wildflower hikes in crested butte

Rustler’s Gulch (Moderate)

Rustler’s Gulch is a favorite wildflower hike in Crested Butte among many.  I met multiple people on this trail who had hiked it multiple times.   It is best to park on FS 317 unless you have a jeep because the mile side road does require 4×4 at the end.

The steepest part of the hike is up this road, but thereafter, the hike is relatively easy.  The trail passes, which is basically an unused road with wildflowers popping up between the tire tracks, passes through a large basin.  Unprotected from the sun, colorful wildflowers flourish beneath the towering peaks.

The hike requires several water crossings, but if you are extremely adept at hopping from rock to rock, there is a small chance your feet will stay dry.  The trail only gains in steepness after turning into a single track and passing a large overlook where many people stop. 

Continuing on, however, takes hikers past an old cabin, through the willows and to a creek with small waterfalls and a kaleidoscope of blooms lining its shore. The 9-mile hike is long, but worth it!  For more details, visit my post Happy Hiking: Rustler’s Gulch.

wildflowers on rustler's gulch trail

Crested Butte to Aspen Hike (Hard)

An extremely popular hike in Colorado is the Crested Butte/Aspen Hike or vice versa.  The one-way 11 mile hike, however, requires some coordination with shuttles and is very hard.  As I previously mentioned, it shares the same trailhead as Hasley Basin Loop, thus it too goes through 1.5 miles of yellow fields!

Thereafter, the trail veers to the right and climbs steeply over the pass to Aspen.  Descending to Aspen takes hiker through several creek crossings, and the year I did it through bogs of mud in the willows.  In fact, I felt like if I ever did this hike again, I’d only go to the pass and back.  That said, the Crested Butte/Aspen hike is sort of a rite of passage.  See my post Road Trip to the Rockies: Crested Butte to Aspen, for more details.

wildflower hikes in crested butte

Crested Butte Upper Lower Loop (Moderate)

The Upper Lower Loop is another great wildflower hike in Crested Butte.  The trailhead is located very close to town, thus easily accessible.  The trail 4.6-mile hike follows road and single track, includes a few interpretive signs and features meadows of magnificent blooms.  At the beginning of the hike there is also an old mining structure and a lovely lake.  For more details about this hike, see my post Road Trip to the Rockies: Crested Butte to Aspen.

wildflower hikes in crested butte

Long Lake Trail (Easy)

Long Lake Trail wouldn’t be my first choice for a wildflower hike in Crested Butte because it is short, though very pretty.  The trailhead is located at the end of the paved portion of Washington Gulch Road.  The trail crosses the creek and immediately enters the forest.

Obviously, wildflowers grow better in the sun, so the 0.3 miles of switchbacks don’t feature any color, but that changes upon reaching the ridge which overlooks Long Lake.

Long Lake is appropriately named, as you can walk at least a mile on just its northeast shore.  And the entire time, the trail weaves along a ridge of wildflowers.  If limited on time, Long Lake Trail is a good choice, but arrive early as being close to town and easily accessible, it is a popular destination.

wildflower hikes in crested butte

Green Lake Trail (Moderate)

I probably wouldn’t define Green Lake Trail as a wildflower hike in Crested Butte.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some mountainsides of wildflowers, but they are limited in comparison to many of the other trails listed in this post.

The reason for including Green Lake Trail is its accessibility.  It begins in the Town of Crested Butte by the Nordic Center.  The 8.5-mile hike is a bit long with the first few miles spent climbing through the forest and following a road.  But the second half of the trail rewards hikers with wildflowers and a lake!

For a shorter hike to Green Lake, which is steeper and requires a water crossing, try Carbon Trailhead.  For more details on this hike, visit Happy Hiking: Green Lake Trail.

wildflower hikes in crested butte

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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