Hiking Crested Butte - A Town Among the Wildflowers

Photo: Neill Pieper

Photo: Neill Pieper

Nestled in the Elk Mountain Range of the Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte is a town that will actually make you happier, simply by visiting. 

Designated the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado” by the Colorado Legislature in 1990, the area is overgrown with incredible flora during the summer months. So much so, they have an annual Crested Butte Wildflower Festival (CBWF). From five different species of sunflowers to the state’s blue columbine and everything in between, visitors get to experience nature’s biggest landscaping event. 

The happiness we feel when relishing this phenomenon, is no coincidence. “A wildflower hike triggers all the happy brain chemicals at once,” Dr. Loretta Breuning, professor at California State University and founder of the Inner Mammal Institute says in the CBWF 2018 program guide. Click here to learn more.

Take advantage of this opportunity to reward yourself with scientific happiness. Here are the hikes, for all skill levels, that showcase all Crested Butte has to offer. Click on each destination to get more information and directions.

Photo: Neill Pieper

Photo: Neill Pieper


Emerald Lake

.75 miles / 30 minutes

40 minutes from town
This hike features a stunning alpine lake sitting at the base of hills blanketed with wildflowers. You can swim, SUP and hammock. But be prepared for crowds. 

Judd Falls

1 mile / 45 minutes

166-foot elevation gain

30 minutes from town
The hike to Judd Falls, cascading approximately 135 feet, features incredible views of Gothic Mountain and amazing wildflowers. During the summer months, a free shuttle takes hikers to the trailhead.

Long Lake (Meridian Lake)

2.4 miles / Roughly 2 hours

515-foot elevation gain

10 minutes from town

Long Lake gets its nickname from its narrow, river-like appearance. You can swim, tube, SUP and hammock. There’s also two rope swings spilling into the far side. The path to the lake traverses through gorgeous fields of wildflowers with impressive peak views.


West Maroon to Hasley Pass Loop

5.5 miles / 3.5 hours

1,816-foot elevation gain

45 minutes from town

With waist high columbine, sunflower, paintbrush and more, the pass showcases unobstructed views of Hasley Basin and Snowmass peak. 

Dear Creek Trail to Viewpoint

Out and back: 6.9 miles / 3.5 hours

1,394-foot elevation gain

Whole trail: 9.1 miles / 4.5 hours

1,909-foot elevation gain

30 minutes from town

With some of the best views of Gothic Mountain and Crested Butte Mountain, this trail is also a popular bike route. 

Photo: Neill Pieper

Photo: Neill Pieper


Crested Butte to Aspen

10.2 miles / 6-8 hours

2,357-foot elevation gain

45 minutes from town

Trek along the Crystal River, through West Maroon Pass to Maroon Lake, cross Maroon Creek and walk by the base of the Maroon Bells to Crater Lake. The unbelievable scenery and extraordinary wildflowers lining the trail make this hike one for the bucket lists. 

Daisy Pass

4.6 miles / 3.5 hours

1,852-foot elevation gain

45 minutes from town

Daisy Pass features intense peak views, hills overflowing with dense wildflowers and several waterfalls. You’ll cross Poverty Creek to the summit of Daisy Pass with perfect views of Democrat Basin, Oh Be Joyful valley and Scarp Ridge.

Please note: SUV is required for the last two miles to the trailhead. If you can’t make it those last two miles by car, add four miles to your round-trip mileage.  

Other helpful information

The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival takes place July 6-15th this year. 

Click here for general information, here for events/registration and here for frequently asked questions.

- Mary Anderson