(Last Updated On: July 12, 2017)
If there ever is a trail that makes me want to scream out singing, “The hills are alive…” it would be Scarp Ridge Loop. Scarp ridge is a prominent ridge line near Crested Butte that extends in a northwest direction from Red Lady (Mount Emmons) to just east of Purple Peak. The ridge can easily be reached by a loop trail that begins at the old Irwin Lodge. And, due to it’s location, Scarp’s ridge offers some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Hikers can drive past Irwin Lake and take a right to head toward Irwin Lodge. Irwin Lodge was once a favorite backcountry lodge. But, it has now been closed.
Don’t let these signs intimidate you. Because the Irwin lodge is closed, some people try to raid it. But, the property is still owned by CSS Irwin. While the lodge itself is off limits, the road is public and parking is available near the trail, which is on the left side of the road. The trail is not marked, but is not hard to find if you are looking.
Irwin Lake from Irwin Lodge.
Wildflowers- Showy Goldeneye.
The trail begins as double track and climbs moderately to the ridge. Eddy (borrowed dog) making his way up the trail with stick-in-mouth!
Looking back down the trail with the Anthracites in the background.
Ruby Peak, Mount Owen, and Purple Peak rising out of Robinson Basin below.
Near the high point of Scarp Ridge.
Looking north toward Star Pass from Scarp Ridge highpoint.
The Maroon Bells and many of the great Elk Peaks can be seen from the high point. Unfortunately, on this day, the views were a bit hazy due to distant wildfires.
Looking east from the highpoint into Peeler Basin.
Oh-Be-Joyful valley can be seen to the northwest.
Blue Lake lies at the head of Oh-Be-Joyful valley, and at the foot of Purple Peak and Afley Peak.
After quite some time enjoying the high point views, Eddy and I headed back down. We traced our ascent path for a few minutes before veering off onto a trail to the left that stays along the ridge for a longer time. Looking back at the trail.
I think Eddy enjoyed the views too.
Looking back at Scarp Ridge and Star Pass, the saddle to the right of the ridge.
Peeler Peak as seen from the ridge.
Eventually, the trail begins to descend back toward Irwin Lodge.
About 1/4 of a mile before the trailhead, the descent trail merges with the ascent route. I did this loop in the counterclockwise direction which is probably easier to navigate. Some hikers may choose to do the loop in a clockwise direction as the ascent in that direction is a little less steep. If so, look for this slab of rock about 1/4 mile past the trail head on the right side of the trail (while ascending). Once you pass over this rock, the trail is obvious, though the turn itself is not.
A loop just 4.5 miles, Scarp Ridge loop is a fantastic hike for all. It’s one that you should not miss!