Crested Butte Trails: Red Lady (Mt. Emmons) via Scarp Ridge

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The longest route on Scarp Ridge offers spectacular 360 degree views and an unparalleled hiking experience. This trail includes wildflower covered hillsides in the summer, dramatic ridge exposure, and one of the most recognizable peaks in the Crested Butte area. Red Lady (Mt. Emmons) has a few other routes to reach the summit, but this is by far the most picturesque.

To Scarp Ridge SummitTo Red Lady
Highlights:Mountain Panoramas, WildflowersSummit Views, Wildflowers
Difficulty:Moderate to StrenuousModerate to Strenuous
RT Length:6.9 miles8 miles
Approx. Time:3.5 hours4.5 hours
Elevation Gain:2,491 feet2,914 feet
Max Elevation:12,207 feet12,392 feet
Trailhead Elevation:10,712 feet10,712 feet
Travel Time to TH:35 minutes35 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. Bear right at the solar paneled shed near mile 3.2. Follow this road for another mile as it descends and then ascends steeply toward the Lake Irwin Lodge. Enjoy spectacular views of the lake and nearby Anthracite Mountains [1]. Please respect no parking signs and park on the right side before the signs [2], follow the road up to the trailhead. on the left side of the turnaround area  Map


From the start of the trail, wildflowers flourish all over the hillsides. At the first junction near the start, bear left [3]. The trail gets steep right away as it climbs up the hill. The next junction arrives as the terrain levels out a bit. Take the trail to the right of the large cairn [5] and continue across the rock slab in a more easterly direction where you should spot a couple other cairns. If you miss this junction or go left, you will be heading westerly.

The trail continues to climb through wildflower meadows [6] toward the ridgeline. You'll approach a cairn [7] at the next junction very close to the ridge. Take a right to follow along it easterly, but feel free to first check out the view straight ahead and to the left of the cairn [8].

Heading toward Red Lady, you'll cross in and out of some thick willows and brush along way. Most of the undulating trail closely follows the ridgeline, often times just a foot or two away from the edge. Once past the brush, take in the dramatic views of the Upper Peeler Lakes and Oh Be Joyful Valley! [9]

Soak up the views from every direction, with most of the remaining route in clear view ahead of you [10]. The trail peters out in a few spots, but is easily picked up if you just stay close to the ridgeline. The summit of the ridge marked by a post [12]. This is the turnaround point for the shorter option. After the Scarp Ridge summit, the trail descends steeply to Gunsight Pass [14], where you'll encounter a gate you can easily walk around. The final climb to the Red Lady (Mt. Emmons) summit is moderate. You'll be greeted by prayer flags [15], and unobstructed views of Crested Butte at the top [16]. This is one of the best all-around hikes for wildflowers and views in the summer and our favorite for Red Lady. Bearing left at the junction close to the ridge on the approach takes you toward Purple Peak and the 4-wheel drive road on the other end of the Scarp.


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.


For longer hikes its a good idea to carry a few extra things in your pack. Make sure to bring extra food and water, rain gear, a map or gps, sun protection, and a flashlight in case your hike goes late. More information on what to pack can be found here.


Weather in the mountains can change very fast. During the summer months it is 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.

Click photos to view multi-season gallery

Trail Map & Profile

Featured Realtor & Scarp Ridge Hiker

Red Lady is one of Jenna's favorite hikes. You might catch her on the trail, when she's not helping her clients' buy or sell real estate. Jenna holds a Texas and Colorado sales agent license. She strives for quality and attention to detail while professionally and ethically protecting her clients interests from start to close.