Crested Butte Hikes: Devil’s Punchbowl

In Hiking guide by Josh Futterman

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a long drive, but a short hike. This frigid hidden gem is deep in the Elk Mountains and a popular spot for cliff diving while they’re here (it’s dangerous, and not recommended). The snowmelt-fed South Fork Crystal River provides the waterfalls atop this beautiful pool.

Need a place to stay? The Nordic Inn has it all with free parking, an outdoor hot tub, and friendly staff. 

Highlights:Waterfalls, Mountain Vistas
Difficulty:Easy
RT Length:2 miles
Approx. Time:1 hour
Trailhead Elevation:9,612 feet
Travel Time to TH:1 hour

Directions

SUV recommended: From the Town of Crested Butte, take Gothic Road (Route 135) north a total of 15.6 miles. You’ll pass the ski resort and drive over into the Gothic valley, past the old mining town of Gothic. Take the dirt road up in elevation as it turns a bit rough closer to Emerald lake and over Schofield Pass. Keep driving past the West Maroon Trailhead through an open meadow until you get to a parking area near the South Fork Crystal River. Map

  WARNING:  We do not recommend driving on the road further than the parking area (many have actually died doing so).


Route

This easy trail is basically an extremely rough and dangerous 4-Wheeling road. It starts from the parking area and goes over and along side the South Fork Crystal River for about a mile. The road descends the whole way with some exposure and cliffs. 

For those who need a little adrenaline rush, they can jump the 20ft+ drop into the Devil’s Punchbowl at their own risk.

  WARNING: There is risk of injury or death by jumping into the punchbowl. The drop is dangerous and the water is cold.

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Gothic Road can see a lot of traffic. We recommend checking it out during 'off-hours'.

An alternate driving route to Schofield Pass takes either Slate River Road (734) or Washington Gulch Road (811) up and over Paradise Divide and down into Paradise Basin. These routes are a bit rougher and require an SUV for more exposed roads.

Click photos to view multi-season gallery


Trail Map & Profile




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Enjoying this trail? Help support the people who maintain it. Donate to the Crested Butte Conservation Corps

Featured Lodging

Nordic Inn

  • Pet Friendly
  • Free Parking
  • Outdoor Hot Tub

14 Treasury Road, Mt. CB • (970) 349-5542Map

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The Nordic Inn at Mt. Crested Butte is the perfect base camp for any hike. Whatever experience or time frame you’re working with, they can help assist in planning your adventure. Enjoy comfortable accommodations including breakfast, outdoor hot tub, and friendly staff.