Butler Gulch Trail
The Butler Gulch Trail is an incredible day hike through the Arapaho Forest. This hike offers several outdoor adventure possibilities. You can bike the trail, hike it, snowshoe it, or ski it. The Butler Gulch Trail is more than just an adventurer’s haven, it is also a photographer’s dream. Revel in the diverse scenery that guides you among towering fir and spruce trees before revealing panoramic vistas of the encompassing snow-capped peaks. With just the right amount of intensity, this beautiful trail is at the top of our list.
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Route Description for Butler Gulch Trail
The Butler Gulch Hike is a local favorite, and we now understand why. This scenic trail really checks all the boxes. With just the perfect amount of demand, you will get your workout in while basking in the unforgettable sights. This versatile trail can be used in the summer and winter months alike. Note that due to the trail’s high elevation, much of it is dusted with snow, even in the summer. We recommend bringing microspikes in the early summer and autumn alike to help navigate possible icy terrain. Ensure you are acclimated to the surrounding area’s altitude to help mitigate altitude sickness as you ascend the steep trail. Additionally, make sure to wear layers to protect against Colorado’s cold winds.
Though it may be chilly, the Butler Gulch Trail is one of our favorite day-hike excursions near Denver. Hike up a forested valley mixed with lush aspens, fir and spruce trees. Enjoy the grandeur of the towering trees before the trail ascends the timberline to an alpine tundra. See mountain goats and bighorn sheep that dot the meadows. Enjoy a small cascading waterfall and walk along a babbling alpine creek before summiting the ridge that overlooks the snow-dusted peaks that line the horizon. We really enjoy the scenery along this hike and so will you.
Embark on your journey up the Butler Gulch Trail from the Butler Gulch Trailhead. There are two parking lots at the trailhead, so parking is usually plentiful. Take the Butler Gulch Trail west and you will have to cross a small stream. The trail will quickly curve you south under the coverage of the spruce and fir trees. Hike the woodland path and you will eventually near an alpine stream. Enjoy the ambiance of the running stream and as you hike on, notice a small cascading waterfall in the west.
As you ascend the gulch the tree shade will become increasingly sparse and the terrain, rockier. Track along the forested path as it intersects with the alpine stream and climbs in elevation. Hike the trail and you will eventually graduate the timberline. From here on out, the hike will be exposed to the elements. Make sure to check the weather to avoid any afternoon storms. At this point, the trail will split. Hike the roundabout from either direction, but we go counterclockwise.
The path around the ridge is not well marked. We recommend following the trail GPS or simply following the valley's edge around the bowl until you meet back up with the trail. Nevertheless, go right at the roundabout. Here, you will see rusted remnants of the Jean Mine on the northside of the trail. Hike around the path as it guides you south. Bask in the grandeur of the Continental Divide and notice those hiking the Jones Pass above. If you still have gas in the tank, go off-trail and hike up the steep ridge of the Continental Divide. This add on is lengthy and challenging, so make sure you have enough energy in the reserves.
If you do not wish to tire yourself out more, loop east along the rocky ledge and the route will guide you back to the marked Butlers Gulch Trail. Take your time as you meander around the roundabout and revel in the impressive scenery before beginning your descent. To get back to the carpark, simply retrace your steps down the gorgeous, forested valley back to the trailhead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Butler Gulch?
Butler Gulch Trail is located in the Arapaho National Forest near Idaho Springs, Colorado.
Is the Butler Gulch Trail Open Year-Round?
Yes, the Butler Gulch Trail is open year-round. The Butler Gulch trail is great for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and backcountry skiing.
Insider Hints for Butler Gulch Trail
- Bring trekking poles and microspikes even in the summer. Due to the trail’s high elevation, it is usually snow dusted until July.
- Bring plenty of water, especially if you are not used to such high elevations.
- If you enjoy backcountry skiing, pack your blades and ski down the bowl at the end of the trail.
- Head into Georgetown after the hike and grab a beer at the Guanella Pass Brewery.
Getting to the Butler Gulch Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for the Butler Gulch Hike is off of the Henderson Mine Road.
Butler Gulch Trail Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
Butler Gulch Trail Reviews
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