Rustler Gulch trail aren’t many hikes you’ll find here that can compete with the incredible variety and abundance of wildflowers. This is one of the unusual experiences that take place in a short summer window (late July, early August). This valley also takes you to several waterfalls and mountain views, in addition to the vibrant colours and fragrances.
- Driving Directions
- On the way
Driving Directions for Rustler Gulch trail
From the town of Crested Butte: For 4.3 miles, take Gothic Road (135) north past Mt. Crested Butte. Bear right past the parking lot of the Snodgrass Trailhead and descend for a further 6.5 miles past the town of Gothic into the East River Valley before you enter the signed Rustler Gulch lane.
Turn right and travel 0.2 miles on this rough road to the East River (check the depth). Cross the river and park on the right side, or continue driving for another mile to the TH sign on a steep narrow path. Parking for 5 to 6 SUVs is limited. Cars are able to get to the East River (although the road is rough the last 0.2 miles). To cross the river, a high clearance SUV is needed. And drive up the steep read for TH sign.
On the way
You will be surrounded by tall wildflower meadows from the start. Look for stunning views of the Gothic Mountains behind you. Just after 3/4 miles in, there is a stream crossing, which can make your shoes or boots wet. Search for a hundred yards downstream for a drier option and find a large tree crossing over. Find another crossing of a stream about 3/4 of a mile downstream. As it ascends some rocky trail towards the spiky red rocks ahead, the route dries out ahead.
As it bends into the gulch and parallels the stream below, follow the trail. Take in the views of the dangerous peak at the end of the valley at 13,000 ft. Continue to climb and note that the species of wildflowers change with altitude.
Some old mining equipment that is now reclaimed by nature will pass near the turnaround. At 3.5 miles, the waterfalls you meet are a perfect point for taking some pictures and going back down. Beyond the waterfalls, the trail continues for a short period of time. If you’re feeling adventurous, head up to the valley below for greater views.
Do not pick, cut or walk on flowers or other plants, please. Removal of the wildflowers can have adverse effects on pollinators and other animal species, and affect the long-term survival of flowers in this area.