Butler Gulch Trail

MODERATE 550 reviews
#11 of 165 trails in

Butler Gulch Trail is a 4.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Empire, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, snowboarding, and snowshoeing and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 4.9 miles Elevation Gain: 1,502 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

hiking

snowshoeing

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

hiking
7 days ago

Need spikes or snowshoes now. Beautiful trail ending in an expansive bowl. Windy up top.

snowshoeing
snow
13 days ago

11/4/19. Hiked 2 miles in before turning around due to wind and darker skies. Trail is completely snow covered but still well marked. Started in with micro spikes but glad I had my snowshoes to switch to as the snow tended to give out a bit in some places. Overall fun trail and great workout, would definitely recommend.

hiking
14 days ago

Was able to hike (with poles and yaxtrax) a little over 2 miles. Hard packed snow for the most part. Attempted to make it across the bowl but started post holing and opted to turn back at that point. If I hadn’t been alone I might have been persuaded to keep going because I really wanted to see over that ridge! I’m new to the area and have never snow-shoed (or skied) but this trail clearly present great opportunities for both. Tons of skiers. And a few shoe-shoers. Easy to follow.

hiking
28 days ago

I hiked this trail early October before any snow and it was very pretty! Not crowded which is always a huge plus, and just enough challenge. Once you got above tree line views were amazing. This trail is dog friendly- I came across a man that was very unhappy to see dogs! Who doesn’t like dogs? But anyways gave me a really hard time about having mine there. Do your research people! There are plenty of trials that don’t allow dogs, stick to those.

hiking
snow
1 month ago

Amazing hike! A little challenging at times. Very snowy!

hiking
1 month ago

The coordinates for the trail head are accurate and there is a large parking area a couple hundred feet before the trail head and a very small parking area right at the trailhead itself. We went on Oct 12 and there was a lot of snow on the ground. It looked pretty amazing but we weren’t able to see any waterfalls because of that. A couple hikers before us left some foot tracks so we were able to find our way ok. Had to turn back a little early bc our dog was getting cold but otherwise dog friendly even with all of the snow. Very cool views at the top of the mountain though! Will definitely try again in the summer.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike up! Very windy up top so make sure to wear a wind breaker and cover your ears! We enjoyed the adventure very much but no leaf viewing from top.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike today! Was quite windy at the top so make sure to bring a wind breaker but aside from that was quite pleasant. Good tree cover for a majority of the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Five stars for me and the dog for a nice clear trail with a lot of variety, an interesting destination, and a hike that gets your heart, lungs and muscles working! Usually I would not drive an hour and 20 minutes for less than 8 miles of hiking but this is worth it — waterfall, historic site, varied terrain.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike but not the best for viewing aspens. Got to the trailhead around 8am on a Saturday and it was a pretty empty hike. Good views during the 2nd half. You won’t see aspens along the hike, but they’re visible in the distance and everywhere along the drive up.

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous trail. Ends at 12,000 feet, with lots of changes in scenery along the way. I am an experienced hiker and still found the second half of this hike quite challenging, but definitely worth it at the end.

hiking
1 month ago

Great views from the top. The last third is probably the hardest. Made it to the top in 65 min.

hiking
1 month ago

An absolutely beautiful trail. Not at all difficult. My boyfriend who is not a hiker at all, while challenged, was able to do it just fine. The beginning of the trail is like Narnia, and above the tree line the view is spectacular. There’s an old mine shaft with an old tractor at the terminus of the trail. There appeared to be a trail to the top of the continental divide about another steep 1000 ft up in elevation. We saw only a handful of other groups going up. Lots of friendly dogs off leash, which I’m not sure is legal but definitely seemed accepted on the trail. I highly recommend this trail!

hiking
1 month ago

Great steep trail with good coverage. Only saw a few groups on beautiful day, so nice and peaceful with not a lot of traffic.

hiking
2 months ago

Went on a Friday morning and saw very few people. No problems at all with parking or the road, and my friends car is a Acura TLX. Beautiful views and the waterfall is a great attribute of this trail! It’s a good incline if you’re not used to going up hill, but it’s steady over the trail out. I’d say the first 1/3 of the trail is covered then you’ll need your sun block!

hiking
2 months ago

Nice trail with a number of small creek crossings, great views above the tree line and interesting mining equipment to look at. It does get quite steep for the final two thirds, but the trail is an old mining road two track and in good shape other than a couple areas where it had turned into a creek for a bit (seems to be corrected now). The water fall is a series of drops down a steep area of the mountain rather than any large drops.

hiking
2 months ago

Parking at the trailhead is limited, but a larger lot is nearby. The trail is steep, and I forgot my poles, which I generally use for going downhill. But the trail is NOT loose rock, so if you’re going to forget your poles, do it on this trail! :) Beautiful trail with the huge fallen trees, bright green ground cover, and waterfalls. We really enjoyed exploring the old mining area at the end.

hiking
2 months ago

It was a nice trail in the trees until you get above tree line. It has snowed this morning, so everything was lightly coated and that made it special. We saw quite a few flowers as we got up higher, but most are declining now. There’s a big tall, but narrow waterfall on the way up, and several small water crossings. Interesting mine ruins at the top. Nice hike, glad we did it, but we would need to do it again in the summer to see if there were lots more flowers to make us like it even better. It was good, but not spectacular. It is pretty steep, but not any worse than most hikes.

hiking
2 months ago

Did this hike on 9/9. It is pretty steep for most of the way up. It is mostly shaded until you’re above tree line. It was cold and windy at the top and I wish I had brought more layers and gloves. Beautiful 360 views from the top! There are some abandoned mine equipment along the way and some nice streams. Took about 3 hours RT. Would definitely do this hike again.

hiking
2 months ago

This was a trail of moderate difficulty. It’s a great length, not too short and not too long. My friend and I went on a Monday morning and we saw at least 7 other people hiking the trail. We had some difficulty locating the trailhead as there are no signs for Butler Gulch. We received directions from a Forest Service employee instructing is to turn onto the unmarked, not-so-user-friendly dirt road to the right of the Henderson Mine entrance. We followed the road up less than a quarter mile and by process of elimination, we went to the first area where we saw cars parked that didn’t have a sign for another Gulch and found it. I only knew it was Butler Gulch because it matched the descriptions that I read on this app. It was worth the effort to find it. It was beautiful country with lots of rewards throughout the hike. There were bald mountain tops all around, we crossed the creek several times, and there was even a very nice waterfall. I will return to show my husband. It’s probably a little too steep and long yet for my 8-year old son. But someday I will bring him there too!

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

This is a great trail with lots of wildflowers and beautiful views. It’s like being in the picture of hiking woman in the All Trails app. It is quite an incline for most of the hike but totally worth it. I would use poles if you have them but not mandatory. First the dirt road to get to the trailhead was not bad as previously posted. We saw a VW Bug make it. Also there is no bathroom at this trailhead. So either stop in Empire, which has nice public bathroom or there is a port-a-potty located just after the turn off from 40 to Henderson Mine Road. Finally, our hike was more like 5.4 miles round trip rather than the 4.9 miles posted by the app.

hiking
2 months ago

Encountered a huge bull moose 1.6 miles from trailhead in a meadow on the left on the way up- just after the steep switch backs and after a beautiful mountain stream of cascading water and wildflowers. Since I was by myself, I backed away slowly to give the moose space and thankfully the moose didn’t charge at me and didn’t follow me back down the trail. I headed back to the trailhead - this moose encounter was a bit scary. In 21 years of hiking Colorado, this is the closest moose encounter I’ve experienced. I’ve only seen 6 moose in 21 years and 5 of the 6 I saw just this year. Since moose view dogs as predators and will attack dogs and defend their territory, from what I’ve read, I recommend not bringing dogs on this trail, even though the trail is rated as dog-friendly. Fortunately, I didn’t bring a dog.

hiking
2 months ago

What a perfect trail! Huge moose right off the trail on the way up, and I think a sighting of the same moose on the way down. No more columbines in bloom, but still a gorgeous array of wildflowers :D waterfall halfway up was spectacular and the views with the old mine ruins up top were out of this world for such a moderate hike. One of my new favorites.

hiking
2 months ago

Butler Gulch is one of my favorite hikes. It has good tree cover for the start, but the start is a fairly tough incline that makes you earn it. At a fast pace, the incline takes an hour, but that's with few (and short) stops. Once you get over the incline, the trail opens into a gulch that stays fairly level with beautiful views of the surrounding mountain ranges....and you can keep hiking for miles. It's pretty amazing, in my opinion.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice trails with great views. A little busy but still enjoyable. Lots of small waterfalls, wildflowers, and a neat old mine. Definitely steep at times. We took numerous breaks as we’re not used to the altitude. Windy at the top but weather was perfect. There are many crossings but very shallow water. Parking is tricky but there are multiple options. Bring water!

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked 8/31. Beautiful but fairly steep (1500ft vertical incline). Wildflowers everywhere, gorgeous views, pretty waterfall and the abandoned mines! Saw about 15 people out and back. Highly recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

We did this hike on Tuesday 8/27 - plenty of parking. Saw maybe a dozen people and most of the time we were by ourselves on the trail - wonderful!! Fairly steep hike but well worth it - even in late August the wild flowers were gorgeous! Columbine are still in bloom! One of the best waterfall hikes. Saw a couple pica’s but no other wild life.

hiking
2 months ago

Today (Thursday 8/29) I started this hike around 2pm (I know, I know); saw maybe 6 people, all coming down the trail. Which means I had the old mines and mountains to myself!!! This trail is steeeeeeep. The whole way. So bring your poles because your knees will thank you later. The heavens luckily sent me a fallen walking stick angel, and I was saved. Also, kudos to you if you decide to wade into that little Jean Mine opening with the water pool/stream coming from it. Looks pretty fun/dangerous?!?! Yeah!!! Mountains!!!

hiking
no shade
off trail
2 months ago

After visiting both mines, we went uphill to the Continental Divide Trail. About half the time you can utilize the social trail; the other time just make your way uphill! At the top, we enjoyed great views to the West and East before heading to a minor peak that's just over 13,000'!

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