[ By Katherine Nettles ]
For a half-day adventure, a trip to Roaring Judy fish hatchery in Almont is simple and fun. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife cold water fish hatchery is located on the East River, and it’s home to the largest known kokanee salmon run in Colorado. The facility is perfect for feeding (or catching) fish, looking for bald eagles in the riparian zone and walking a nice, flat mosey-paced trail with the shade of cottonwood trees. An hour or two is plenty, and you can bring small kid bikes too. Bonus: easy walking for grandparents. Directions: From Crested Butte, head South on Highway 135 for 14 miles and it’s on the right.
Lake Irwin is a picturesque recreation area just outside of Crested Butte. The lake has camping, fishing, boating and hiking opportunities, with a two-mile trail around it. You can bring SUP boards, rafts, or just yourselves. Older kids love jumping off the rock cliffs into the water for an invigorating experience. Aim for morning before the afternoon winds pick up. Directions: From Crested Butte, take Whiterock to Kebler Pass Road and look for the Irwin Lake sign on the right after nine miles.
This is a great short, easy hike for little ones with potential for beaver sightings at the end. The first time I took my kids, the trail (one mile out and back) was speckled with golden aspen leaves in September. We’ve since learned to love it all summer long. It’s a longer drive (about an hour), so you can time it to coincide with naps while you enjoy the views along Ohio Pass that are truly spectacular. Directions: From Crested Butte take Kebler Pass Road north, turn left on Ohio Pass Road and after 4 miles the Beaver Ponds trailhead is marked on the right.
The Gunnison County Library District’s Crested Butte library partners with the Crested Butte Land Trust to present a book along the Lower Loop Trail. This year, the storywalk book is Wonder Walkers by Micha Archer, a Caldecott Honor Winner.
The Lower Loop has limited parking near the trailhead, so be prepared to bike or walk the remainder of Peanut Lake Road and then walk or bike the Lower Loop path, stopping along the benches to take a break.
There are a several spots to enjoy the gentler banks of this river, and playing with the smooth, flat slate rocks that give the river its name provides endless entertainment. The Rec Path footbridge, Gunsight bridge, and the Lower Loop all offer access to it.
Gunsight Bridge directions: Take Gothic Road north .8 miles to Slate River Road, turn left and drive 3.6 miles before turning left on 739A. Park on the left side of the road next to the parking blockades to access the river. You can also bike or hike here from the Lower Loop.
These are a staple of childhood, and there are plenty around CB with amazing mountain views if you just need to squeeze in some easy playtime before dinner.
-Rainbow Park has public restrooms and picnic tables.
-Pirate Park is the newest on the local circuit, also with picnic tables, right behind the Center for the Arts.
-Crested Butte Community School playground is in a sunny spot.
-Three Ladies Park on Butte Avenue are great for toddlers, and has public restrooms.
-Mt. Crested Butte has the Ted Scheske Park and playground north of the ski area on Gothic Road, below town hall.
Bikes & Boards
The Crested Butte pump track behind the Community School has a great bike park, even for toddlers on balance bikes.
Big Mine Park on Belleview Street has assorted ramps and half pipes for all levels of bikers, scooters riders and skateboarders.