Hiking & Biking FAQ’s – Enjoying Summer in Crested Butte

We enjoy helping people explore the Crested Butte area, whether it be on bike or on foot. Our hiking and biking guides were built on this premise, and continue to be the top pages visited on our site. While our guides are filled with a wealth of information, many visitors to our site were still contacting us with some questions. Below is a list of frequently asked questions we have received from visitors to 14erskiers

1) I can’t find too much solid information on whether or not it’s a good idea to come up from Denver to hike in Crested Butte May 9 through the 11. Do you have any advice on what that would be like?

To be honest, the hiking in Crested Butte around May 9th to the 11th is going to be very limited due to snow cover. Most of the dirt roads to access the hiking will not be open because they will still have snow. For example, Kebler Pass road, Slate River Road, Washington Gulch road, and Gothic Road will likely still be closed, or only open a few miles up the road (if at all). There will likely be some hiking closer to town, but those will be shorter. Trails like Lupine Trail, Lower Loop, Upper Loop, and Whetstone Vista will probably be accessible for hiking by then. Off of Brush Creek Road, Strand and parts of Ferris Creek will probably be open for hiking. In addition, the Caves loop out of CB South should be good to go by then. I don’t have these trails on my hiking guide as they are heavily used by mountain bikers and I tend to stay away from trails like this as a hiker, just because I would rather bike them then hike them. However, you can find information about them on our mountain biking guide.

If you want better hiking, I’d say wait until Memorial Day weekend or after. More trails and roads will be open by then. But, even then, some things will be limited due to snow. Hiking really opens up in July and August, and that is the best time to hike here in Crested Butte!

2) Will the wildflowers still be in full bloom in late August?

Every year is different depending on snow melt and late summer frosts. But, usually the wildflowers are past their prime in late August. Their prime is usually all of July and maybe into the first week of August. We get frosts beginning mid-August, and that is when the wildflowers begin to decline.

3) Can you recommend any good campgrounds? Seems we will be wanting to come in July and the hotels are so expensive and basically all booked, so we want to hop on booking a site (if they take reservations).

This is probably what you are looking for: Crested Butte RV Resort

But, there is plenty of free, or nearly free, camping too. Check out our Butte Beta page.

4) My wife, daughter and I are going to be in Crested Butte arriving in early August and staying for a few nights. We will be looking for some wildflower hikes. Not having been there it appears the West Maroon Trail is the champion of hikes for that. What I was wondering is if you can confirm that for me? If this is true, we won’t really have the time to hike to Aspen, and get back ….. So what I was wondering is do you think it would be worth our while to hike that part way, then turn around and simply come back out?

Yes, the Maroon Trail seems to be one of the best for wildflowers, especially in late July and early August. It is definitely worth the trek to do an out and back. However, if you are doing an out and back, I would not go to Maroon Pass. Maroon Pass is cool and all, but you will find stunning scenery from the top of Frigidaire Pass or the top of Hasley Pass. Both are accessed from the West Maroon Trailhead, same as Maroon Pass. And, in general, they go in the same large basin, but verge in slightly different directions. I’d most recommend trying to tie Frigidaire and Hasley together, if you’re up for it. But, that can be something you decide, even when you’re on trail. But, that way you’ll get sort of a lollipop loop and not just a straight out and back.

5) I have a Toyota mini van, will it have enough clearance to do that road or should I look at a shuttle service?

The minivan could struggle on a couple of parts of the Gothic/Schofield Pass road. I’m specifically thinking of a couple of creek crossings that could be deep (or even nonexistant that time of year, but a kind of a pit) and also one kind of rocky section. It’s fine in something like a Subaru, but a minivan might be pushing it.

I would recommend looking into hiring from Colorado BC.They might just do a car shuttle for you. Or you can hire Ben to take you on a really cool hike. Also, Dolly’s does shuttles to the Schofield Pass area regularly.

Some of these shuttle services can actually get kind of expensive for 3 people. So, I wouldn’t throw out the possibility to rent a car. Probably the best place to rent a car is from Gunnison. But, there are a few places in CB also. But, I think you’ll find more standard rates in Gunnison.

A little less further up Gothic Road is Rustler’s Gulch. Your mini-van will likely be able to make it there if one or two stream crossing things aren’t bad (when I say stream crossing, it’s where the road gets run over by some water due to some interference from beavers and the forest service hasn’t dealt with it yet. There are one or two of them. They weren’t there just a few years ago). You should find good wildflowers up there too, but you’ll have to go 4 or 5 miles one way to find them. It’s an out-and-back.

For a shorter trip, and super easy to get to with your minivan, try Copley Lake.

6) As for trying to tie Frigidaire and Hasley together I know you had two options. Are they typically both good or do you prefer one over another? Also can you rate them in terms of difficulty as I am not sure how difficult a hike my wife can do?

As for trying to tie Frigidaire and Hasley together I know you had two options. Are they typically both good or do you prefer one over another? Also can you rate them in terms of difficulty as I am not sure how difficult a hike my wife can do?

7) I have been thinking we may take a day and rent bikes and do some biking. Having said that let me say we are not mountain bike riders. We have never done that. I am just thinking that possibly renting a bike and riding an easy trail would be fun. I had even seen a place on the internet called Evolution Bike Park. I don’t really know my options but going up on the local lift and riding down an easy trail sounds like fun. Thus the reason I am reaching out to you. I hate to have to pay extra to go to a bike park if there are easy trails that provide a good option.

Biking is a great way to further explore the Crested Butte area! The Evolution bike park is basically part of the ski area. You can ride the trails without riding the lifts, if you like. That would mean riding up, then riding back down. I do this all the time. But, I can say that riding the lifts is really fun and might be a better option if you aren’t used to mountain biking. It’s just easier going down hill. I don’t know exactly when you are coming. But, we do have Free Friday Night Lift Rides at CBMR. They run the Red Lady until 7 and from 4:30 to 7 it’s free. Yep free. No strings attached. If you’re around on a Friday you might consider taking advantage of that. We do all the time. It’s so fun.

The ski area has some of our best beginner trails but some other ones include the Lupine Trail and the Lower Loop. Lower Loop is closer to town. Lupine is kind of in between town and the mountain. Cement Creek Trail is also fun, but you need to drive to that trail as it is near CB South. Additionally, a lot of people have fun just riding some of the dirt roads we have.

For renting, we don’t really have a lot of discounts. But, CB Sports is our go to. Those guys simply rock. But, we also really like Peak Sports. Both of those are located at the base of the ski area. If you rent from CB Sports, ask for Pat or Frank and tell them Brittany sent you. If you rent from Peak Sports, ask for Pete or Andy and tell them Brittany and Frank sent you. But, if you’re going to do the Lower Loop or ride something else from town, it might be better to rent from town. In that case, Big Al’s or the Alpineer are your best bet.

8) Do you have recommendations for a 3 day hike with some alpine lakes along the way for fishing (12-15 miles per day)? I am looking at doing a through hike – with a vehicle drop to aid in the return.

I actually brought this question to my husband as well so we could hash it out together. There are a few different through-hike options, but not many that would be 3 days with lakes 🙂

The best one we came up with would begin by going up Middle Brush Creek Rd towards Pearl Pass and then hiking to Twin Lakes, spending the first night there. It is SUCH a beautiful spot! The next day would require hiking over to Copper Lake via Coffee Pot and Triangle Passes. On maps, there really isn’t a trail. But, you should find a climbers trail that heads in these general directions. You’d spend the second night at Copper Lake another beautiful spot. This second day I think could actually be fairly long. The third day, you’d hike down to Gothic from Copper Lake, which is 5 miles or a little more depending on where you park your car…… probably pretty good way to end the trip on a shorter note. So, Middle Brush Creek Road can get pretty gnarly. When we hiked to Twin Lakes I actually made my husband stop the car about a mile from the TH because I thought we could just walk faster than we were driving. To drive this road, you need something around the equivalent of a Tacoma or greater. Or, you just park further down and walk more on the road, which is not out of the realm of possibilities considering the mileage to Twin Lakes is probably shorter than you would like. The problem with this trip is that it certainly does not meet your standard of about 12 miles a day. But, I think these hikes still hold their own, especially with overnight gear. If you have more energy, just set up came and do some hiking around the area.

Another hike I think might be good is to start at the West Maroon Pass Trailhead, go up and over Hasley Pass or Frididaire Pass, drop down into the valley, then rise to Geneva Lake. Spend the first night at Geneva Lake, then the next day hike to Snowmass Lake. Then, hike out toward Aspen the third day. The downfall with this is that Snowmass Lake can be crowded in the summer, especially if it is a weekend.

There are some other hikes we can think of in the West Elks or towards Oh-Be-Joyful/Dark Canyon that would be great through hikes- with water, but not necessarily lakes. If you would like to know more about those, I can help with that.

9) Your list of hikes is making me so excited about my trip to Crested Butte, but one concern is how we will get to the trailheads. We do not plan to rent a car. Are any of the hikes accessible by bus?

Many of the hikes listed in my hiking guide need a car, for certain. Many of the trails closer to town are very much bike trails as much as hike trails, and in my hiking guide I stuck to things that make better hiking, not biking. Many of the trails closer to town are covered in our biking guide.

A bus does run out to Gothic, making the Copper Creek area accessible (East Maroon Pass/Judd Falls). Their schedule is listed with Mountain Express. This bus also stops at Snodgrass where there is another trail. You will find a lot of bikers on this trail, but the hiking is good too.

There is a regular shuttle to the ski area which leaves every 20 minutes, if you are staying in town. Hiking on the ski area is good. They have a trail map with the multiuse trails listed. It is not necessary to buy a lift ticket. You can hike the trails for free. Just make sure you are on a multiuse or hiking trail, not a downhill biking trail. But, many hikers do buy lift tickets to make the hiking a little shorter and easier.

To hike between the ski area and the town, there is the Upper Loop and the bike path. From town, it is easy to access the Green Lake trail and the Lower Loop trail.

All of those should give you good hiking! The Chamber of Commerce has a free map with almost all of these trails on it.

If you want to go further one day, which I definitely recommend- you can look into hiring a shuttle. They will drop you off and pick you up later.
Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle.

Sometimes the folks at Colorado Backcountry do shuttles. Or, you could hire them to guide you on some really cool hikes.

10) I’m planning on doing a backpacking (camping trip) with three other guys in early august with my place in Crested Butte being our base camp. I noticed you don’t have too much information on backpacking on your site and was wondering if you had any suggestions or favorite spots, a lake destination would be nice. We’re all pretty competent hikers. I’m thinking of a 2 nighter with a possibility of a day hike.

There are a lot of lakes where you could camp and do day hikes.

One that comes to mind is Blue Lake. If you camp at Blue Lake, you could climb Star Pass to Pierre Lakes and come back. Alternatively, you could climb up to Avery and do a ridge hike across Oh-Be-Joyful & Hancock, and descend via Oh-Be-Joyful Pass.

Another good lake where you can camp is Copper Lake. From there, you could go over East Maroon Pass, or Triangle Pass, or make a loop between them. You could even all the way to Conundrum Hot Springs and back in a day hike.

Alternatively, you could also hike to Twin Lakes and access the same areas as Copper Lake in a day hike.

A third option would be to camp at Yule Lakes. From there, it makes the most sense to climb Treasure.

Last, you could follow our route to Geneva Lake (up and over Hasley Pass). There are a lot of day hikes from there, some being Snowmass and Siberia.

11) I’m planning out some hikes that aren’t too demanding but give folks good vantage of the splendor of the Elks. My thought is to start at Irwin Lodge up to Scarps Ridge to the saddle that separates Garfield Pk from Scarps (called Star Pass on one map) and drop into Oh Be Joyful towards Blue Lake and down OBJ to a car we will leave there. Some data sets show a faint trail on the neck to “Star Pass” while others don’t show anything…from my recollection the country up there is pretty flat, though exposed on the cliff edges. Do you think this route will go?

You have a great idea for a hike! I’ve done something similar for sure in the past. That saddle you are referring to is definitely called Star Pass, which is confusing because there’s another Star Pass about 10 miles east (as a bird flies) of that too, really close to Taylor Pass. So, if you Google ‘Star Pass”, you might see that and not the one you want to hike to. The one main issue is getting from the top of Scarp’s Ridge to Star Pass. Unless you like a scrambling downclimb on crumbly rock, do not follow the ridge downward toward the pass. It drops off sharply eventually. From the top of Scarp’s ridge, there is a faint trail that drops to the east side of the ridge, sort of towards Pierre Lakes. It contours around, and then eventually reaches the saddle. I will warn you though that this trail is faint, side-hilly, and somewhat exposed over cliffs at times. It is possible, not technical at all, but best for the sure-footed, as falling could lead to serious consequences. Some people are fine on this kind of thing, others are scared out of their minds. So, it just depends on your comfort level. It should be a beautiful hike!

Still have a question? Make sure to fully check out our hiking and biking guides and if you still have questions please feel free to contact us!

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!