Crested Butte Trails: Lupine Trail

In Biking Guide, Hiking guide by Josh Futterman

There are many great trails within a couple miles of town, but this just might be the best one. From June through August the hillsides are on full display with wildflowers, especially lupine (of course). Take in wide views of mountains, the Slate River valley, the town of Crested Butte, and in the fall, aspen colors. 

Need a bike? Located on Elk Ave, Big Al’s Bicycle Heaven has rentals for every ability and age level, along with trail advice and any gear you’ll need.  

Keep in mind this is a very popular mountain bike trail, especially on weekends. The trail can be hiked one way, with a shuttle from either end, but there is no parking allowed in the Saddle Ridge subdivision or on Gothic road (on the east end). Mountain biking is usually started from the Saddle Ridge trailhead on the east end to enjoy the ride down.

This route description is the uphill route out and back, from Nicholson Lake. The Lupine Trail runs on an easement through private property so please stay on the trail at all times. 


Highlights:Wildflowers, Mountain views, Aspen
Hike Difficulty:Moderate
Bike Difficulty:Intermediate
RT Length:7 miles
Bike Length:10.7 loop from town
Approx. Time:2.5 hours RT, 1.5 hours one way
Elevation Gain:888 feet RT, 635 feet one way
Max Elevation:9,312 feet
Trailhead Elevation:8,943 feet
Travel Time to TH:10 minutes

Click photos to view multi-season gallery

Directions

From the Town of Crested Butte: Take Gothic Road (135) north 0.8 miles to Slate River Road (734). Turn left and drive 2.6 miles up the valley. Just past Nicholson Lake (and the marmot crossing sign) is the trailhead on your right side.  Map


Route

The western trailhead starts with a few switchbacks to ease the uphill gradient. Ascend quickly and enjoy the valley views in both directions. The trail follows the valley east on single track the rest of the way as the flowers thicken. Meander through three thick sections of aspens as you make your way around the bend. Here views of Mt. Crested Butte open up along with the town below. The hills are thick with lupine, dwarf larkspur, and mule ears depending on your timing. Turn around at the gate or hitch a ride. Most of the trail runs on an easement through private property, so please stay on the trail at all times. For an extra rewarding hike/bike, opt for just after dawn or before dusk. The east/west configuration of the valley allows the sun to pour through, creating interesting shadows and lighting.


Image

There are no restrooms on this trail, so use the restroom before you go. There is a Porta-Potty located on the Slate River Road just north of the trailhead about 1/4 mile.

Image

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.

Image

This is a popular bike trail, watch out for bikers. Yield to horses, hikers, and uphill riders. Don't ride trails when muddy and bike to the trailhead if possible. Be considerate to other users, the land, and local landowners.

Click photos to view multi-season gallery

Trail Map & Profile

Image

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

Featured Shop

This full service Crested Butte bike shop sells all levels of mountain, road, FAT, and city bikes for all ages. Voted Best Bike tune since 2007, this shop knows bikes. Whether you’re looking for trail conditions, a quick tune, or just a good bike convo Big Al’s is the one stop shop!