(Last Updated On: August 19, 2014)
The week had been particularly “monsoony”. And, after having been shut down from a couple of bike rides, a change of pace was necessary. Hiking in the rain is not nearly as bothersome as mountain biking in the rain. So, I borrowed Eddy the wonder dog, and once again we were off on another little adventure.
I chose to hike the Schofield Pass Loop. I had a feeling that the wildflowers would be good there. And, since it is largely below treeline, I thought it was also a good choice given the somewhat precarious weather forecast.
I started the loop by going up 401, where I only encountered once group of bikers on this day. Hiking a trail that you normally ride is always so enlightening. I rarely notice the wildflowers when my eyes are focused on the trail while on a bike. But, when hiking, my eyes wander. And there’s color all around.
Trail 401 climbs upward through the forest and then opens up into the alpine. South Maroon peers over Frigid Air, as visible from the upper part of trail 401.
Eddy was having fun.
Despite the looming clouds, the day was colorful indeed.
View of the Raggeds from the top of trail 401.
Paintbrush & lupine.
At the top of trail 401 (a little less than 1.5 miles), there is a split. To the right, Trail 401 continues southeast. But, to the left, Schofield trail travels north. Not widely traveled, this trail makes a fun hike.
Schofield Trail begins by traversing across an alpine meadow. Another view of the Raggeds.
This flower can so easily go unnoticed. But, when you look close, little Elephant Heads are revealed.
Schofield Trail eventually begins to drop down toward the East Fork valley toward the West Maroon trail, but the views and wildflowers continue.
Lupine & Paintbrush.
Bluebells & Rosy Paintbrush.
Aspen sunflowers were abundant in places.
Plenty of Rosy Paintbrush in these parts.
As you can see, the Schofield Trail is not exactly heavily traveled.
Finding sunshine while surrounded by dark clouds.
Eventually, Schofield Trail crosses a creek that is bedded in slippery, but beautiful, slate rock.
The corn lilies (more commonly, but incorrectly, called skunk cabbage) was nearly head high in places.
Mountain views across the field of corn lilies.
The trail faded as it entered the East Fork Valley.
Notice the hillside highlighted with yellow – from the sunflowers.
While the trail faded, it was easy to see passers-by across the way on the West Maroon Trail. To get there, we had to cross the East Fork itself. The crossing happened about 1.4 miles after the start of the Schofield Trail.
After crossing the creek, I headed southwest (left, down) on the West Maroon trail where the wildflowers were continuing to flourish.
After about a mile I reached the West Maroon trailhead where I headed left (east) to follow the road about 3/4 of a mile to the top of Schofield Pass, finishing the loop.
The Schofield Pass Loop is a fun alternative to exploring the West Maroon area. With a diverse range of wildflowers and under 5 miles long, you might want to check this one out!
Note: If you want to do this loop too, I recommend going in a counter-clockwise direction. This will cause you to go up on 401, which will help reduce encounters with mountain bikers as you will likely be walking about the same speed they can ride. I suggest you start hiking this loop early in the morning to also further reduce encounters with mountain bikers on trail 401. 401 is Crested Butte’s most popular mountain biking trail. If you choose to park on the top of Schofield Pass, please be aware that parking is limited. Please be wise and respectful about where you park your car. If the area is full, continue down to the West Maroon trailhead.
Want to do this hike yourself?