“A must-do hike when visiting the town of Crested Butte (or Mt. Crested Butte, for that matter).”
— Tom Robson
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The Silver Queen Express lift is open daily from June 13 to September 13, 9:30 a.m. 2:30 p.m.
This is an iconic Crested Butte hike featuring some of the area's highlights:
- Stunning viewpoints
- ...and chairlifts
If you're in town and are looking to get out and hike, be sure to put this on the list.
Need to Know
If you're looking to skip the Lower Westside
, Middle Westside
, and Silver Queen Road
portions of this journey, you can take the Silver Queen Express to the bottom of the Crested Butte Summit Path
. Find pricing for lift rides here
For this truncated version of the hike, you'll ascend pretty steep terrain and some easy scrambling towards the summit to reach the 12,162 feet summit of Mt. Crested Butte. The terrain is still steep and challenging. There will be many novice hikers along this trail. The summit can get crowded. Be sure to bring proper footwear, we saw many struggling with the terrain while wearing tennis shoes. Weather can also be unpredictable.
Downhill rides on the chairlift are FREE
. For those looking to skip the chairlift, simply follow your well-signed path back to the base area.
Starting from the base of Crested Butte ski area, follow the signs for Lower Westside
trail; it's about as far south as you'd want to go from the base of the ski area. Turn left and begin your journey!
The trail gently winds its way up the side of the grassy hillside near the Westside ski lift. But, keep in mind, the trail is open to two-way traffic, so keep your wits about you! From Lower Westside
, this hike follows a logical path and Middle Westside
From the end of Lower Westside
, Middle Westside
ascends lazily as it pops in and out of the trees on open meadows. This is one of my favorite trails heading up Mt. Crested Butte as it places you in one of the densest aspen groves on the mountain; it feels like you're in a fairytale!
After popping in and out of the trees a few more times, the trail terminates at Silver Queen Road
. Turn right to head uphill on the road. This low-angle road switchbacks multiple times and provides various viewpoints of the town and surrounding mountains.
Once at the top of the Silver Queen Express (the end of Silver Queen Road
), start the trip's final pitch up the Crested Butte Summit Path
. This trail winds its way up, around, and down until the final summit pitch. Along the way, you'll see various educational signs teaching users about various wildflowers from the region, of which we saw none... This is not to say, however, that they don't exist earlier in the season!
After trotting through the trees and taking in some of the flower knowledge, you'll finally reach treeline. Slot yourself between the two boulders that continue the trail's upward trajectory and ascend a steep, short pitch.
Once atop this little knob, which is almost like a false peak, but not really, you'll see the summit's massive scree field to your right. Follow the trail as it descends around the eastern slope of the peak. Once at this pitches' bottom, turn right to start your uphill slog.
This final section is a loose and rocky slope all the way to the top. Be sure to take care here, many inexperienced folks will be on the trail due to its easy access from the chairlift. Take care and give them a wide berth!
Once at the top, enjoy the incredible views from the summit!
Once you've had your fill of the view, head back down to the Silver Queen Express. If you've arrived at the lift after 9:30am and are doing this hike between June 13th and September 13th, congratulations! You've just earned yourself a minty trip down the mountain on the chairlift. Nice work.
Flora & Fauna
Various kinds of wildflowers throughout the Spring and Summer season. Aspens abound on this route. Marmots and pika are common.