I’ve envisioned this hike for a couple of years now – linking Horse Ranch to Swampy Pass trailhead via the Cliff Creek Trail and Swampy Pass trail. But, logistically it was difficult because it required two cars. Being that I do the majority of my hiking solo (or with Eddy the Wonder Dog, who, even in all his amazingness, still can’t get behind the wheel of a car), the two-car commitment was a problem. So, when my dad popped into town wanting to do lots of hiking, this one immediately went on the list.
It was raining when we left town in the morning. Clouds hovered thick over the peaks, obscuring their summits. We decided to hike anyways. We parked at the Cliff Creek trailhead across the road from Horse Ranch. As we ascended toward Beckwith Pass, we regretting hiking in wet conditions as the trail was greasy mud that was both slippery and sticky at the same time. Nonetheless, we charged on, hoping for better conditions later in the day.
The summit of East Beckwith slowly being revealed.
We reached Beckwith Pass in good time, despite the muddy conditions. Since I have done the hike to Beckwith Pass several times, I did not take out the camera much on this portion of the trip. There are more photos leading to Beckwith Pass here.
After Beckwith Pass, we entered the gate into the West Elk Wilderness. This truly is a wild and expansive land. Immediately, the trail forks, and we took the left fork continuing on the Cliff Creek Trail (Trail 840). We had great views of Storm Ridge and the distant Castles.
Brittany’s parents were in town last week, which meant that we needed to find fun and adventurous things to do in our backyard. Luckily, we have just the backyard for that kind of thing. One place we hadn’t taken them, and thought they would enjoy, is the ghost town of Crystal and the famous Crystal Mill, one of the most photographed places in Colorado. Since none of us are into difficult 4×4 driving, or ATVing, that left two choices- get there by bike or by foot. We choose the bikes.
We started at Schofield Park, just past Schofield Pass. There are a handful of cabins up here, it would be an amazing corner of the world to own a little place. From there, the road goes straight through waterfall central with the most amazingly clear water of the Crystal River. If you like waterfalls, hike or bike this route.
Crested Butte is a hiking mecca. But, some of the best hikes have good end destinations, like a lake. Who doesn’t enjoy the serenity of a peaceful alpine lake? The nine hikes described below either end at a lake before retracing your tracks on the return, or pass by a lake (or lakes) on a loop. These are the best lake hikes in Crested Butte.
Three Lakes Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles
Lost Lake, one of the three lakes on the Three Lakes Trail Loop.
Description: Three Lakes Loop is a fantastic loop that winds through a lush forest, linking these three beautiful lakes – Lost Lake, Dollar Lake, and Lost Lake Slough. There’s even a nice waterfall too. Occasionally, the trail opens up to some nice mountain views. But, the real treasure here are the lakes and their serenity.
This loop has easy route finding and and moderate steepness. The loop can be shortened by only hiking to Dollar Lake and back, or by excluding the “off-shoot” to Dollar Lake from the loop trail. Three Lakes is a fantastic family hike. Fishing is common in Lost Lake Slough.
It’s been two years. Two years since the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has come to Crested Butte. Don’t get me wrong. I consider our small town extremely lucky to have been able to host this amazing race 3 out of 4 years during its infancy. When the 2014 course was announced, Crested Buttians jumped for joy upon hearing that the USA Pro Challenge would be returning.
Frank and I live at the finish line. The night before the race the trucks come in, making their beeping noises and shining lights in our windows. Overnight our parking lot is transformed into a circus from where Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett broadcast the race to the world.
It’s like the air knows something is up… Because we can feel the excitement the moment we awaken in the morning. The big race is coming!