One of our favorite mountains to climb around Crested Butte happens to also be one of the most difficult ones in the hiking guide. The approach on trail 403 during wildflower season can be extremely rewarding itself, and is listed as an additional option here for a short and sweet hike. Once on the climb proper, very steep slopes make for challenging progress, but jaw-dropping views. Top out with one of the best views of the Crested Butte area.
Sustainable Trail Use
This trail and many others like it are maintained by the Crested Butte Conservation Corps. From picking up trash to trail maintenance to poop removal, they do it all and keep our backcountry pristine. Please help support them with a tax-deductible donation (501c3).
|403 to Viewpoint||Gothic Summit|
|Highlights:||Mountain Panoramas, Wildflowers||Mountain Panoramas, Wildflowers|
|RT Length:||3.85 miles||7.5 miles|
|Approx. Time RT:||1.5 - 2 hours||5 - 7 hours|
|Elevation Gain:||646 feet||2,332 feet|
|Max Elevation:||11,435 feet||12,625 feet|
|Trailhead Elevation:||10,996 feet||10,996 feet|
|Travel Time to TH:||30 minutes||30 minutes|
Click photos to view multi-season gallery
From the Town of Crested Butte: Take Gothic Road (Route 135) north 1.75 miles to Washington Gulch Road. Turn left and drive for another 7.75 miles up the gulch, past the 'town' of Elkton. There is a tight hairpin turn just before the rainbow rail  that may be difficult for low clearance vehicles. The old parking area, which is now closed is on the left side. Continue another 1/4 mile past there to the new trailhead and parking area. Map
The parking area for this hike offers its own spectacular view down the valley all the way to Crested Butte.
New 403 Route: Start out on the well marked trail just 1/4 mile up the road from the old parking area . It's a relatively easy start on local favorite 403, which sees a good number of mountain bikers in the summer. Wildflowers flourish all along this path as well . The trail switchbacks many times as you wind your way up the hillside . Views of Mt. Baldy appear to the west before the trail eventually swings east and meets up with the old 403 trail . Here you can take a 2 minutes detour at the sign to the old bench  for the best views of Washington Gulch. Further ahead on 403 you'll approach a trail junction, where you'll go right. Just a brief hike ahead is another junction (take it left for the viewpoint) and for the turnaround point if you're not going up Gothic Mtn . Take in expansive panoramic views of Gothic Valley and the noticeable red triangle face of Avery Peak.
Gothic Mountain: Continue downhill into the valley another .7 miles, where you'll encounter another junction that's easy to miss . Take a right at the rock and log and continue on your new heading directly toward Gothic Mountain. The trail will peter out as you go over a marshy section , but will reappear within a hundred feet. Continue uphill into the trees . The trail will climb through forested area with a few downed trees to climb over and under .
Emerge from the woods as the trail gets much steep . You are now on the main climb up the ridgeline. The path continues to steepen past treeline as you approach the first false summit. Continue over it toward the second false summit, but down forget to turn around and take in the amazing views .
The second false summit is marked with a cross and is a great spot to catch your breath . The hardest is behind you! Follow the well defined trail down to the saddle and back up to the true summit . You'll be rewarding with amazing views in every direction , including a prime view of Mt. Crested Butte, Gothic, and the town of Crested Butte .
There is a Porta Potty located on Washington Gulch Road just past the National Forest boundary. There are no other restrooms on this hike, so make sure to use the Porta Potty on your way up.
Weather in the mountains can change very fast. During the summer months, it's common to have thunderstorms developing during the afternoon in the high country. Check the weather forecast before you go. Keep your eyes on the clouds and know when to turn back.
Please don’t pick, cut, or walk on wildflowers or other plants. Removing wildflowers from the wild can adversely affect pollinators and other animals that depend on that species for food and cover and affect the flowers long-term survival in that location.
Click photos to view multi-season gallery
Enjoying this trail? Help support the people who maintain it. Donate to the Crested Butte Conservation Corps.
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.