Fall Colors in Crested Butte

It’s hard not to love almost every single month of the year here in Crested Butte. But, fall – the real fall when the leaves are changing and the weather is Indian Summer EVERY DAY – that’s one that’s hard to top…. even for skiers like us. We simply love this three week time-span that creeps upon us every year. Although short-lived, fall remains in our memories throughout the year. And while we can get powder face-shots for a solid 6 to 7 months of the year, we can only get golden aspen leaf face-shots for 3 weeks. So, that makes NOW extra special.

Fall colors in Crested Butte, Whetstone Mountain

We’ve put together a collection of photos that show the transition of pre-fall into true fall that we’ve taken throughout the month of September, capturing the sheer beauty of fall colors in Crested Butte!

Early September the raspberries were so ripe, they were falling off the vine when I picked them!

Monsoons still clung in the air in early September, cutting a few of my rides a bit short.
Monsoon rainstorms in Crested Butte.

And then it turned Indian Summer.
Indian Summer in Crested Butte.

It was still awhile before the leaves began to change. But by mid-month we had this.
Fall colors in Crested Butte.


Crested Butte Fall Riding Stoke

Crested Butte is a top destination for mountain biking and fall is usually one of the most scenic times. As the fall hues take over the scene, aspen leaves drop on trails, and we get giddy with leafy-faceshots. The riding has been good this fall, and the scenery even more-so. So, here’s some Crested Butte fall riding stoke to tease your appetite.


Strand is peaking right now.
Climbing Strand Hill

The views from the top of Strand trail are always amazing. But, the golden leaves make it even more special.
Scene from top of Strand Hill

Scene from top of Strand Hill

So much color.
Fall mountain biking on Strand in Crested Butte.


Lily Lake Trail

A few days ago, I crashed my bike on the Upper loop trail. I wish I could say that I was doing something really gnarly, or I crashed while being chased by wolves, mountain lions and bears, but it wasn’t that interesting. Just a spot I’d ridden about a thousand times or so. Thankfully, the only damage was some extensive road rash. Anyway, the point of the story is that I was looking for an easier ride last weekend, hoping to avoid another crash. Since I’d never ridden Lily lake (the one near Kebler Pass, not the one in Taylor Park), Brittany and I thought that might be a good place to explore.

We’ve ridden our snowmobiles in the Lily lake area quite a few times, but this was the first time in the summer. The lake has always been just a powder meadow for us. We decided to ride this loop in a clockwise direction, which I would have to say is the better direction. This means that we started off on Splain’s gulch before getting on the trail.
mountain biking the lily lake trail near crested butte

lily lake mountain biking crested butte

The trail follows an old road grade, and there isn’t much elevation change, and passes through the same meadows that makes it popular with snowmobiles in the winter. It was actually really pretty on this perfect fall day.
Lily Lake Colorado

View of Anthracites from Lily Lake

The trail doesn’t actually go to the lake, but a short spur trail does. Strangely, the lake is filled with lilies.
lilies in Lily Lake near Crested Butte

Farther on, there’s another spur trail, this time leading to a nice overlook of the Ohio Creek valley:
Ohio Creek valley near Gunnison Colorado

Once we reached Ohio Pass road, we headed towards Kebler Pass and then jumped on the Wagon trail for a short downhill.
Wagon trail Crested Butte Colorado

Wagon trail crested butte

Exploring the Lily lake trail was a good call for us last weekend, and I managed to keep the rubber side down this time. There are more exciting trails in Crested Butte, and while it was fairly scenic, I don’t think the Lily Lake trail will be joining my list of “must-do” trails every summer. I’m sure others may think this is the greatest trail in the valley, however.

By the numbers:
(Starting at the winter closure trailhead on Kebler Pass)
13.4 miles
1 hour, 40 minutes

Hiking between Crested Butte & Aspen: Comparing West Maroon and East Maroon Passes

The beautiful West Maroon Pass is the most popular way to hike between Crested Butte and Aspen.

The beautiful West Maroon Pass is the most popular way to hike between Crested Butte and Aspen.

A few years ago, I hiked from Crested Butte to Aspen via the more common West Maroon Pass. I then set my eyes on hiking to Aspen via the lesser traveled East Maroon Pass. But, I was not able to complete it until this past August. After completing the East Maroon Pass hike, I’ve often been asked how the two routes compare. So, in this post, I will investigate hiking options between Aspen and Crested Butte by comparing West Maroon and East Maroon Passes.

What West Maroon Pass and East Maroon Pass Hold in Common

Both routes between Aspen and Crested Butte are especially scenic. You’ll enjoy fantastic mountain views, wonderful wildflowers, and pass by beautiful lakes along the way. Although each trail has a slightly different start/finish in Crested Butte, both routes also start/finish at the same point in Aspen, at Maroon Lake. In addition, each route has a higher start/finish elevation in the Crested Butte side compared to the Aspen side.

While each hike passes through some good forest, you will also pass through scenic alpine while approaching the passes. Because of this, you must be wary of any approaching thunderstorms, especially during the monsoon months of July and August.


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