Best Hikes In and Near Crested Butte for Seeing Wildflowers

Blooming wildflowers transform the hiking trails in Crested Butte into breathtaking landscapes.

Posted on June 30, 2023

Sunshine over a ski trail in crested Butte, CO.
Going by the moniker "Wildflower Capital of Colorado," Crested Butte is a paradise for hikers, nature lovers, and photographers alike. Crested Butte wildflowers carpet the meadows every summer, giving the nearby hiking trails a spectacular burst of color.  

Whether you're a seasoned pro or a casual nature lover, Crested Butte offers trails for all hikers. The peak wildflower season, June to mid-July, is the perfect time to see the meadows come alive. 

The Accessible Lower Loop Trail 

The Lower Loop Trail takes you on an easy hike to let you savor and enjoy the beautiful wild flowers in Crested Butte. The trail is a 6-mile loop to immerse you in the scenic landscape without a tiresome return journey. 

During Crested Butte wildflower season, blooming lupine, aspen sunflowers, columbine, and Indian paintbrush add vibrant color splashes across the meadows.  

The path follows the gentle flow of the Slate River and meanders through colorful meadows, aspen groves, and dense forests. The trail is well-maintained and marked to help you stay on course. Several vantage points along the path provide stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains.  

Lower Looper Trail connects with nearby trails, such as the Woods Walk and the Budd Trail, to help you customize your experience.  

The hike takes about three hours, and the trailhead is five minutes from Crested Butte. Be sure to dress appropriately, wear sunscreen, and carry snacks and water. The trail has no amenities, but there's designated parking on Peanut Lake Road.  

The Aptly Named Lupine Trail  

Named after its spectacular display of Lupine flowers, the Lupine Trail offers one of the best Crested Butte wildflower hikes. The 7-mile long trail is conveniently located 10 minutes from Crested Butte town.  

The trailhead near Nicholson Lake grants quick access to the moderate trail. A well-maintained path ensures a comfortable hiking experience, and there are occasional signs to guide you along.  

The trail starts with a few switchbacks to ease the ascent that takes you through towering aspen groves. It winds through dense forests that give way to colorful meadows.  

During summer, the hills are thick with lupine wildflowers. The vibrant pink, blue, and purple blooms carpet the meadows along the trail, creating a fragrant display of color. Depending on your timing, you may find mule ears or dwarf larkspur in bloom.   

As you ascend higher, the trail provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  

The hike is under two hours but has lots of connecting trails. Stick to the path to avoid trespassing, as the trail runs on an easement on private property. There are no restrooms on this trail, but there's a Porta-Potty about a quarter-mile from the trailhead.  

The Captivating Rustler Gulch Trail  

Rustler Gulch Trail is a bucket list hiking destination that offers vivid colors and fragrances that create unique summer experiences. The 7-mile trail is 45 minutes from the Crested Butte, but the drive is well worth it.  

Rustler Gulch offers a challenging but rewarding hike that takes you through picturesque alpine meadows, past cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking mountain vistas.  

The trail starts in a colorful meadow set against the striking backdrop of Gothic Mountain. The expansive meadows are adorned with a spectacular display of colors from lupine, elephantella, fireweed, and columbine wildflowers.  

Further along, you'll encounter several cascading waterfalls with a comforting roar, offering a refreshing respite and great photo opportunities.  

Rustler Gulch becomes more challenging as you venture deeper into the trail. You'll encounter steep ascents, rocky sections, and stream crossings that add an element of adventure. But the effort is well worth it as the trail rewards you with more breathtaking views of the rugged alpine environment and a sense of accomplishment.  

The area teems with wildlife, and you may spot marmots scurrying among the rocks or mountain goats majestically perched on the cliffs. Rustler Gulch is considered a strenuous hike, so bring the proper hiking gear, sufficient water, and snacks. The trail has no amenities, and the hike takes about four hours.  

The Stunning Snodgrass Trail  

The Snodgrass Trail is a scenic hiking destination that lets you admire Crested Butte flowers in style. The 3.6-mile trail is only ten minutes from town and takes you on a rewarding, easy-to-moderate hike. You can hike uphill from Washington Gulch or downhill from Gothic Road.  

The hike up the Snodgrass Trail begins with a mellow ascent through open meadows and thick aspen forests that showcase their vibrant colors during autumn. Colorful wildflowers bloom in the meadows between the aspen groves during summer.  

The trail opens as you continue the ascent, offering scenic views of Mt. Crested Butte and Whetstone Mountains. The terrain gets steeper leading you to vibrant hillsides covered with beautiful wildflowers. The colorful displays from Indian paintbrush, lupine, sunflowers, and columbine turn the entire landscape into a stunning color palette.  

From the colorful hillsides, you can descend to Gothic Road against the backdrop of beautiful vistas. You can end your hike here if you have alternative means of transportation or enjoy the trek back to the starting point. The walk is about two hours one way, and the trail has no amenities.   

The Challenging Gothic Mountain  

With its rugged beauty and panoramic view, Gothic Mountain is perfect for the seasoned hiker craving a challenging alpine adventure. The trailhead is only half an hour's ride from Crested Butte, and you can customize your hike to suit your preferences.  

You can settle for the moderate 3.85-mile hike to 403 Viewpoint or test your mettle on the strenuous 7.5-mile hike to the Gothic Summit.  

The trail starts with a gradual incline and switchbacks multiple times as it takes you through a colorful landscape teeming with wildflowers and dense forests of spruce and firs. The trees thin out and give away to rugged terrain.  

Colorful blooms add a touch of beauty to the landscape, creating an enchanting experience. Halfway through the climb, the 403 Viewpoint offers sweeping views of the Gothic valley.  

The climb only gets tougher from here and will test your mettle. The trail takes you through marshes and dense forests to a steep ridgeline. The path becomes steep, rocky, and exposed. You'll cross several false summits before reaching the top. Gothic Summit is a strenuous hike that requires proper gear, conditioning, and adequate supply.   

Plan the Perfect Hiking Trip 

You only have a short window to savor the beautiful wildflowers in Crested Butte. Planning a stay at the Crested Butte Resort puts you close to the best hiking spots and helps you maximize your time. The resort offers diverse summer activities to make your stay rewarding.  

Learn more about Crested Butte summer activities