Crested Butte Trails: Emerald Lake

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Emerald Lake is a short and sweet hike to one of the most picturesque high alpine lakes in the area. Just a short drive from town and you'll get a treat of beautiful emerald colored waters in a basin of steep pine and wildflower covered hillsides. This is a great place to spend the day, SUP or hang up a hammock with a view. Love SUPing the mountains?

Highlights:Wildflowers, Mountain Vistas
RT Length:.75 miles
Approx. Time:30 minutes
Trailhead Elevation:11,432 feet
Travel Time to TH:40 minutes


SUV recommended: From the Town of Crested Butte, take Gothic Road (Route 135) north a total of 12.6 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 the lake. Some portions near the lake are only wide enough for one vehicle as well. There is a turn off just before reaching the lake, which descends into a small parking area.

Map (Continue past the marker on the map on Route 317 down toward the trailhead/parking lot).

  WARNING: The road just before and after the lake is narrow with steep drop-offs. Wide vehicles, trailers, and large RVs are not recommended.


This easy trail starts from the parking area and curves around the right side of the lake for less than half a mile. Many canoes and kayaks put in on the far side, with easy access to the water. 

On the far side of the lake, a trail heads back up toward the road. We recommend hiking up to get another vantage point, where you can really see the emerald color shine in the sun.


This is a popular area for SUPing and swimming. Be courteous of other lake users and avoid spending too much time on the bank to prevent erosion.


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 can affect the flowers long-term survival in that location.


This is a popular summer destination with easy access. Please be mindful of parking space during busy times and do not park on Gothic Road. Large vehicles, RVs, and trailers are not recommended. 

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Alex Richland
Signature Properties Ebner & Associates

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After graduating from the University of Delaware Alex spent a summer in Crested Butte… and never left. She chose a career in real estate because she fell in love with this unique little mountain town, and gets so excited when meeting people who are as enamored with this place as she is. Alex has built her real estate business in Crested Butte around one guiding principle: it’s all about her clients. She's dedicated to providing exceptional, first class customer service by practicing open, honest, and frequent communication.