Crested Butte Trails: Scarp Ridge Western Approach

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Due to a conflict between the private land owners and the National Forest Service, we advise all hikers to avoid this trail until this issue is resolved. We'll continue to post any future updates. Scarp Ridge can be accessed via this trail: Middle Loop

For those looking for dramatic scenery with jaw-dropping vistas, an easy approach, and a quick escape from the ordinary, look no further. Expect views of peaks, cliffs, valleys, lakes and depending on the season, a variety of colors.

Highlights:Epic Mountain and Valley Views
RT Length:6.1 miles
Approx. Time:3.5 hours
Elevation Gain:1,250 feet
Max Elevation:11,867 feet
Trailhead Elevation:10,559 feet
Travel Time to TH:30 minutes

Click photos to view multi-season gallery


From the Town of Crested Butte: Take Whiterock Ave. west through town as it turns into Kebler Pass Road. Follow the road 6.1 miles to the Lake Irwin campground turnoff onto dirt. Follow this dirt road another 2.5 miles to the campground and past the lake. Continue for another .4 miles and bear right at the fork. Park at the pull off another .3 miles up the road just before a solar paneled shed. Start the hike by bearing left at the fork by the shed.  Map


Much of this trail is on a 4x4 road and is well defined [1]. Follow the road as it winds up and along the base of the Ruby Range [2]. Ruby Peak (looker's left) and Mount Owen dominate the skyline in view. At about a mile in, cross over a creek and enjoy the wide views near tree-line just ahead. There are a few waterfalls to your left along the route as you traverse past Green Lake (higher up) [3]. Bear right at about 2 miles at the junction for Green Lake. Continue to the end of the road and enjoy the great views in every direction [4].

Continue on to the right on the much fainter trail toward the ridge line [7]. At Scarp Ridge take in the views of cliffs, Blue Lake below, Afley Peak to your left, and the 2,000ft sheer drop ahead of you into the Oh-Be-Joyful Valley [8]. Turn around and head back down the way you arrived for the fastest route.

When you get to Scarp Ridge, there is the option to hike along the ridge line toward Gunsight Pass and loop back down toward the Lake Irwin. This trail is a bit more difficult, offers more exposure and loose terrain. Enjoy wildflowers along the trail in the summer and deeper autumnal colors of tundra in the early fall. The trail sees some snow as early as late September and October. 

Click photos to view multi-season gallery

Trail Map & Profile


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