Crested Butte lies close to the heart of the Elk Mountain Range in the Colorado Rockies. Its location acts as a perfect hub for some of the best hiking in the country. Towering peaks, lush valleys, awe-inspiring vistas, cliff-side trails, and hillsides saturated with the bright colors of nature can all be experienced on these day hikes. Be sure to charge your camera for the ridiculous number of photo opportunities.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
Starting late in May and going through October, the hiking season is short, but oh-so-sweet. Wildflowers dominate the landscape in the summer; Crested Butte is known as the wildflower capital of Colorado. Golden aspens shine in late September and October. The Gunnison National Forest, which includes five Wilderness areas, ensures pristine conditions and memorable experiences. And don’t forget your dog, they’re permitted on nearly every trail! If you’re curious about trail conditions, check out our Trail Conditions Report.
Please DO NOT pick wildflowers while enjoying the backcountry, here’s why:
- Less blooms next year
- Less food for animals and pollinators
- We won’t be the Wildflower Capital of Colorado if everybody does it
This guide was created to help you choose the best Crested Butte hikes based on a number of categories. Filter the guide by clicking on one of the criteria in each category above the trail images (Difficulty, Features, Time). All trail guides are also mobile friendly, so feel free to take some screenshots or print out the directions (there isn’t much cell service on most trails). Time to choose your adventure:
|E = Easy||M = Moderate||S = Strenuous||VS = Very Strenuous|
Interactive Google Map
**Be careful out there and know your limits. Altitude, trail conditions, surrounding hikers, wildlife, and more all play a hand in hikes.**
Difficulty is subjective, however we incorporate a number of elements into the Crested Butte hiking guide to help distinguish how strenuous each trail will be for you. This includes: total milage, steepness, trail conditions, altitude, and elevation gain.
Hiking times are even more subjective than assessing difficulty. Your fitness and pace will ultimately determine how long each trail will take. For our assessment, we estimated the times based on a leisurely pace of + or – 2 miles per hour depending on the gradient of the trial. These times don’t include stopping for rest or long meals, but with a short intermissions for a snack or to snag a photo.
It’s always recommended to check the weather forecast the night before your trip. Keep in mind, much of the hiking season here is also during the monsoon season, when afternoon thunderstorms occur like clockwork. Many trails take you above the tree line and are very exposed. Lightning is the main concern and if dark storm clouds are brewing, it’s best to head down immediately. Temperatures can fluctuate dramatically, especially with rainfall, so be prepared with proper clothing and layers. A rule of thumb is to be at your highest place before noon.
No matter your recreational endeavor, everyone is responsible to care for the environment in which they’re exploring. To keep our jaw-dropping views, our famous wildflowers, and lush scenery looking beautiful, and healthy, we all have to leave it better than we found it. Make sure to review the Mountain Manners guide before you head out so you, and everyone in your group is taking care of our corner of paradise, and beyond.
CB to Aspen Lodging
The Nordic Inn at Mt. Crested Butte is the perfect base camp for your hike between Crested Butte and Aspen. Let the Nordic Inn help you plan your journey, by staying either at the beginning or end of your hike, by doing a full round trip after a nights rest, or they can even arrange a scenic tour back by van to your starting point. Whatever experience or time frame you’re working with, the Nordic Inn can help assist in planning your adventure.