Wildflowers by Hike
Anytime you are hiking in the mountains it is necessary to be prepared. Don’t forget an extra layer, water, rain jacket, snack, sunscreen and a map. Bringing a camera and friends is also highly encouraged!
For an afternoon stroll, head to Woods Walk just west of town on Kebler Pass Road (0.2 miles). Park on the left side of the road, and cross carefully. This trail is relatively flat, with only 200 feet in elevation gain over about 2.8 miles. Take in the incredible views of the Paradise Divide, Mt. Crested Butte and town. Aspen groves with open meadows provide excellent conditions for many species of wildflowers. Look for columbine, Richardson’s geranium, blue flax, scarlet gilia and many more! This is a popular trail, so be prepared to say hello to locals and their pups.
If you’re looking for a quieter out-and-back hike, this is it! Brush Creek Trail offers expansive views of the East River Valley and many wildflowers along the way. It would be hard to miss the Lupine, Aspen Sunflowers and Mule’s Ear Sunflowers that cover the hillsides. To get here from town, take CO 135 for two miles and then make a left onto County Road 738 (Brush Creek Road). The Brush Creek Trailhead will be on your left in 1.9 miles. The trail is double track for 4.3 miles roundtrip (2.15 miles each way) with an elevation gain of 315 feet. Be aware that it is also open to horseback riders and mountain bikers.
Do you want to see something more than tons of wildflowers and spectacular mountain views? To get to the trailhead for Judd Falls, drive up Gothic Road past the town of Gothic and park at the Cooper Creek lot on the right. This old mining town houses the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) and is a great place to stop for ice cream after your hike. The waterfalls are about one mile and 166 feet up the trail. Please be aware of your surroundings and do not disturb the RMBL testing sites in the area.
403 to Viewpoint
For a more challenging, but rewarding hike, be sure to check out the 403 trail to the viewpoint. The roundtrip hike is 2.7 miles and gains 746 feet in elevation. Drive up Washington Gulch Road eight miles to find the trailhead on your left. Take in the panoramic mountain views and fields of wildflowers on the drive as well as the hike. Bonus points if you plan ahead and hike to the summit of Gothic Mountain!
Guided Hikes at CBMR
The ultimate way to learn about the wildflowers is to take a guided hike. Many are offered during the Wildflower Festival (crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com) and Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers them all summer (call 970-349-4554 to learn more and sign up). The guide will adjust the hike to your comfort level and discuss the ecology, geology and more. But this isn’t a boring science lecture! Come with questions, be ready to engage all of your senses and truly experience your surroundings. Learn as much as you can, then you won’t mistake corn lilies for skunk cabbage!