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Crested Butte - Elevation 12,162 Feet

My Hike To Crested Butte Via The Mt. Crested Butte Ski & Snowboard Slopes - July 2, 2011

Introduction To Crested Butte (Elevation 12,162 Feet)
Crested Butte is by far the most recognizable peak in this skiing and snowboarding mecca in western Colorado. In fact, the towns of Crested Butte and nearby Mt. Crested Butte each derive its name from it.

Today I hiked to the summit of Crested Butte, beginning at the base of the ski slopes of Mt. Crested Butte. Most hike on the road that switchbacks many times as it reaches the highest ski lift. Also, some choose to pay for a ski lift ride, then hike the final 0.6 mile trail at the top. Either way, this is an excellent mountain climb opportunity.

Photos of Crested Butte Crested Butte
Seen from the Highway 135.
Crested Butte, CO
The stunning view of Crested Butte from the town of Crested Butte.
Mt. Crested Butte Parking Lot
The view of Crested Butte from the public parking lot next to the Grand Lodge in Mt. Crested Butte. I parked here, and began my hike from this spot.

Crested Butte Hike

The Hike

I formally started at the bottom of the main ski lift near the Grand Lodge and other hotels. Within a short distance of walking up a grassy ski & snowboard slope and crossing a mountain bike trail, I was on the service road. Many times the road intersects some of the ski lifts, and it was indeed tempting to "short cut" up the slopes. I did that a few times, but be warned it can be quite steep. Then again, you should already know this if you're climbing a mountain of this stature. ;)
Purple Wildflowers Beautiful purple wildflowers.
Mt. Crested Butte Ski Slopes The more I climbed, the smaller and farther Mt. Crested Butte looked.
Crested Butte Trail Eventually, whether walking directly on the road or hiking up a ski & snowboard path, I made it to the highest part of the ski lift area. On the left is a marked trail for Crested Butte. From here, it is approximately 0.6 miles, and quite a "grunt" above timberline.

Note: At the trailhead, a sign read "trail closed." Beside it was a sign reading "Peak Trail impassable due to deep snow covering trail. Hiking off trail can cause environmental damage. Please be aware of hazards! Thanks!"

However, as I spoke with other hikers in the vicinity, everyone who had already been to the top said the snow wasn't too much. I'm not sure how one determines if snow is "impassable" anyway.

My hunch is these signs exist as a strategy of Mt. Crested Ski Resort to remove liability if someone should get hurt or killed. Even when I asked the ski lift operator at the bottom for directions to the road, he politely tried to discourage me, telling me there was "way too much snow." I share all this so you're not alarmed if you have a similar experience. Obviously, use your mind, be prepared and always put safety first.

Crested Butte Trail There was one large snowfield, and the three guys ahead of me helped provide perspective over how large it is. Thankfully, I endured no postholing. :)
Crested Butte Coming closer to the summit. The trail travels left (on the photo) and reaches the summit from the other side.
Crested Butte A steep and rocky grunt near the top.
Crested Butte
Crested Butte Summit - 12,162 Feet

A ski, a few memorials and a register were at the top.

Crested Butte, CO

Crested Butte, CO

Now this is a mountain with beautiful mountain views in all directions!

Adjacent are two photos of the town of Crested Butte to the west.

Crested Butte Directly below and toward the southwest was some kind of suburban community with a golf course. Whetstone Mountain (elevation 12,516') is the large mountain behind.
Crested Butte Another grand view is to the northwest. That's Mt. Crested Butte.
Crested Butte To the south is the Slate River Valley and Crested Butte South.
Colorado Mountain Scenery

Colorado Mountains

More stunning mountain scenery to the north and east.

A standard picture of myself on the summit directly below. :)


Truly, I don't spend enough time in Gunnison County, but here are some of my pages:

  • Taylor Park Reservoir
  • Taylor River Road
  • Town of Crested Butte

  • Mt. Crested Butte Ski Slopes
    Extra Photos

    From what I heard, the ski lift will allow hikers to ride down for free, but the last ride was at 2:45 p.m. I started very late in the afternoon and was coming down at 5 p.m.

    Anyway, it was much quicker going down compared to going up obviously. I walked short distances on the road, but most of the time, I scrambled down ski & snowboard slopes. Adjacent is a photo near the very bottom, looking back at the mountain.

    Mt. Crested Butte, CO
    Leaving Mt. Crested Butte.

    Crested Butte, CO

    As I slowly droved out of Crested Butte, I captured one last shot of this beauty. Friends, if you enjoy hiking and gaining the summit, this is a mountain well worth your time.

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    Video - Crested Butte

    I met three young Crested Butte locals on the summit. Good guys.

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