Rustler's Gulch

MODERATE 57 reviews
#2 of 83 trails in

Rustler's Gulch is a 9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Crested Butte, Colorado and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and nature trips and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
9.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,791 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

trail running

hiking
1 day ago

This was a very good trail to hike. There is a river spot you must cross, if you can cross with your vehicle makes the hike a little shorter. I was afraid to chance going thru. Amazing views along the way.

2 days ago

This was an amazing hike. All along the trail there were great views of the surrounding mountains. We missed the peak of wildflower blooms but still the area was beautiful. We actually opted to 4-wheel drive up to the trailhead in a brand new explorer which I wouldn’t recommend due to the surprising deep water crossing at the beginning, and low ground clearance along the route. Also there is great access to the falls near the end of the route via a fork in the path.

hiking
23 days ago

This is one of the most glorious hikes I've ever been on. The trail itself is about 7 miles, but it's a mile from the parking area to the trailhead, so that adds 2 miles. That first mile from the parking area to the trailhead is the most strenuous part of the hike -- it's a pretty intense incline, and the elevation adds a little challenge -- but once you're on the trail, it's relatively flat hiking. And gorgeous! I missed the flowers at their peek by a couple of weeks, but there were still wonderful beds of purples and yellows. And even if there weren't, the vistas around every corner were worth the hike alone. There's a little waterfall at the end of the trail -- it felt great to dip my feet into the coooooold water. There are a few creek crossings along the way, but the water was pretty low and they were easy to cross. There's a pond of water about 3 or 4 feet deep between the parking area and the route to the trailhead, but if you walk up the bluff to the left of the pond, you can cross there -- boots stayed dry.

hiking
27 days ago

Beautiful display of flowers especially after the third creek crossing

29 days ago

Loved this hike. Absolutely beautiful and not too strenuous. You do have to cross a few streams so keep that in mind if you don’t have great balance to hop across rocks, or just be okay getting your feet wet. No bikes once you hit the trailhead so that’s a bonus as well. Definitely park and walk up the road. We saw a couple raised vehicles make it through the stream but don’t risk it unless you know what you’re doing. The road is a climb but it’s a pretty walk and less than a mile I’d say. The trail wasn’t too busy- more people coming back vs going up- so get an early start and you’ll feel like you have this trail all to yourself. Most dogs we ran into were off leash.

hiking
29 days ago

A gorgeous hike filled with wildflowers and views.

hiking
1 month ago

Rustler’s Gulch was an incredible hike! The views were fantastic and the wildflowers were beautiful. It’s a steep hike up to the trailhead because of the flooded 4 wheel drive road, but well worth the hike.

1 month ago

Did this one mid July. Wildflowers were spectacular. Very buggy so take plenty of spray to keep them away. With a high clearance vehicle we were able to forge the creek at the base of the hill and drive up to the gate. This is a great hike !

1 month ago

lovely trail! wildflowers and waterfalls. what more could you want?

1 month ago

The wildflowers were fantastic!

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this yesterday. Absolutely fabulous once you pass the dirt road and get onto the trail. (You can drive to the trail head but need very high clearance to ford a moderately deep stream.)
This trail has chest high wildflowers for a good portion of the hike and stunning vistas. Great hike anytime but in July it’s incredible.

hiking
1 month ago

A really beautiful wildflower hike, with beautiful views of multiple peaks. We loved it! Bring your water shoes (altho most streams are relatively easy to cross). We hiked up the rough dirt road to the trailhead, (which adds about a mile each way) as the initial water crossing seemed rather deep for our SUV. Most others made the same choice. Lightly traveled and absolutely beautiful. Gradual incline (after initial steep dirt road). Wear your sunscreen as most of the trail is in sunlight.

hiking
1 month ago

I went on June 27th, 2018 and this is probably the most gorgeous hike I've taken in Colorado, and I'm a native. It was a Wednesday and we only saw 4 other people (lots of other cars though) on the trail all day in 8.6 miles.
If you don't have 4WD with high clearance, don't try the road to the trailhead. The rocks are nuts and have the potential to mess your car up and the East river was definitely waist deep where you need to drive across. I have a Subaru Impreza and it was a no-go. That said, the mile on the road to the trailhead is STRENUOUS!! My boyfriend is in GREAT shape (Me - meh) and even he was surprised how steep it was. Next time, I'm paying a stranger $10 to bring me to the trailhead. After that, it levels out for the majority (only one more significant steep stretch - maybe 3/4 of a mile to 1 mile) and it was an easy and enjoyable hike. There are several river/stream crossings so wear Tevas or bring a towel and maybe extra socks.
My favorite parts were dodging the river constantly, the midway highest point (so gorgeous), and of course, the WILD FLOWERS!! The entire journey is other-worldly and I highly recommend.

2 months ago

I did this hike in early June and even without the wildflowers it was stunning. Be prepared for multiple water crossings.

backpacking
2 months ago

Wow! We went in May and some of the rivers were very tough to cross (forcing others to turn around or go of course) and there was too much snow at the end to finish... but how amazing to hike and camp totally on our own! Didn’t see another human soul the entire hike down on day 2. Saw some deer and marmots. Really enjoyed the drive in Gothic Road from Crested Butte as well. We will be back for the Aspens changing!

hiking
Friday, August 11, 2017

I'll plan to go in July next year when the wild flowers are more ample, though they were still decent today. The mile steep uphill from the river to the trailhead is no joke, but definitely the only difficult part of the hike. Lots of water to cross.

I found these directions good: Take Gothic Road (135) north past Mt. Crested Butte for 4.3 miles. Bear right past the Snodgrass Trailhead parking lot and descend into the East River Valley for another 6.5 miles past the town of Gothic until you reach the signed Rustler Gulch road. Turn right and drive this rocky road 0.2 miles to the East River (check the depth). Cross the river [0] and park on the right side, or continue driving on a steep narrow road for another mile to the TH sign. There is limited parking for 5 to 6 SUVs. Cars can make it to the East River (although the road is rough the last 0.2 miles). A high clearance SUV is recommended to cross the river and go up the steep road to the TH.

I would add that the road to the trailhead is on the right, after you pass the Washington Gulch trailhead (on the left) and soon after you go over a bridge of sorts. It's hidden by the tall grass but there is a brown sign that says "Rustler's Gulch ->" There's not much parking on the rough 0.2 mile road before the East River for cars who can't make it over but there is ample parking just before that road on Gothic Rd.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Beautiful! I definitely recommend having a four wheel drive vehicle to take you up the steep road to the trail head. If you start further down at the parking lot then the first mile is a strenuous uphill climb. There are several large streams to cross along this hike so be prepared to take off your shoes and wade through the water. We went in July. The views and wildflowers were like none other.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Amazing wildflowers and views!!! Lots of creek crossings!

hiking
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

We started out around 8 am, choosing to hike up the mile or so road to the trailhead. The hike was amazing despite the ample water and mud everywhere. We ended up taking off our shoes two times to cross water/rivers. We thought the end of the trail was the old miner's building. Turns out we should have gone further to see the falls. Only negative was the flies everywhere. Wish we had brought bug spray.

hiking
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sunday, July 09, 2017

mid-july this Trail has more wildflowers than any place in Crested Butte. even without the wildflowers the hike is stunning and I must do when in the area

hiking
Wednesday, October 05, 2016

We hiked this trail in early October so all the wild flowers were gone, but the views are still spectacular.

A few take aways:

- There is a parking area past the first stream just off Gothic road. If you park below this stream, you can pass across if you head westward and look for areas to cross. The water was about 18" deep.

- The actual trailhead sign is a bit of a hike up a low maintained gravel road.

- The initial trail northward is mostly shallow creek crossings, muddy paths possibly, and some steep inclines.

- As the inward trail heads east, the hiking is actually easier but the trail turns to a single track thats pretty rocky. Regardless, the entire trail is easily Class 1 with occasional Class 2 for some hikers.

- When the waterfall comes into view in the distance, there eventually is an "unofficial" grass path that heads down to the bottom of the waterfall as a sort of shortcut from the main dirt path. Although, that also meant we missed out on seeing the old mine items.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Amazing panoramic views for a somewhat easy hike. A lot of beauty here!

hiking
Sunday, July 31, 2016

Beautiful!!!!!!! The most beautiful hike I have been on for wildflowers. We bushwhacked up to the snow fields and the view was amazing. Nature at its finest !!!

hiking
Sunday, July 17, 2016

Beautiful! Flowers were at their peak. There were a few water crossings. Beautiful panoramic vistas - breath taking scenery. This hike was recommended by a local and what a gem it is!

hiking
Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stunning trail carpeted with very tall wildflowers. When ppl told me Crested Butte was known for its wildflowers, I thot how gr8 can it be? Seriously, flowers at Rustlers were mind blowing! Right at the TH I said OMG! Every step after that was OMG, OMG! The wildflowers are that amazing! Huge variety and very tall. I'm 5 ft 1" and flowers came above my head! Sunflowers, Lupines, Penstemon, Columbines, Lovage, Geraniums, Whisk broom parsley, Kings crown, Elephant ear, you name it and this trail had it. See pics. I must have taken 100's of pics.

I got lost getting there cause there was no sign at turnoff and ended at Schofield pass, which was a harrowing drive across 1 lane narrow, steep, winding road full of rocks, ruts, pot holes. And to make matters worse there were mountain bikers on that part of the road. I was sure my Outback was gonna slide into Emerald lake!

Make sure you have all wheel drive, better yet 4x4 with high clearance. There is a creek crossing to get to Rustlers TH. I had to park before the creek and then wade thru knee high water since my Outback couldn't make it across. It is about 1 mile walk to TH each way. So if u have a car that can make it across the creek and up steep hill, you can save yourself 2 miles out/back to TH. Get a good off-roading car.

To get there you take Gothic road which turns into a dirt road. Gothic itself is lined with beautiful flowers that come up to Ur car window. Road turns progressively bumpier with deep ruts, holes and rocks. Once you pass Washington Gulch trail sign, which is on left, it is the first right turn to Rustlers Gulch. Hopefully they put up a damn sign. There wasn't any when I went. U don't want to end up at Schofield pass. Once you turn, there is a creek crossing before the TH so either U cross creek in Ur car or park before the creek.

All this is worth it. Go early July when wildflowers are at peak. That is what made this trail amazing. Trail itself is easy. Has couple of creek crossings. Was muddy in some parts. I got fairly close to the end but had to turn around as I saw dark clouds. Few minutes later- heavy downpour. But it was an amazing experience since I have never seen wildflowers like these in my entire life! I highly reco this trail in July. I would give it 10 stars if I could, just for the incredible wildflower show put up by Mother Nature.

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