In Crested Butte you don’t have to go far to find an adventure—just grab a bike of any kind and cruise the streets and trails accessible from almost any part of town. Find a restaurant, storefront or convenience store to grab a cold drink or frozen treat, find a warm bench or a sunny patch of grass and many kids will be happy just to be here in Paradise alongside you. For a more structured set of plans, consider a short hike, splash or visit the local children’s museum or library to take a break from the trails and parks.
— Katherine Nettles
Take a hike
The Woods Walk is revered for its accessibility from town by way of a short bike ride out Peanut Lake Road or walk or drive up Kebler Pass Road and park at the small turn off to the left. The 2.9 mile out-and back trail crosses a stream and cuts in and out of an aspen stand with sunny, gentle slopes connecting to the Lower Loop.
The Story Walk is provided each summer by the Gunnison County Library District, which places each page of an illustrated and life-sized children’s story in plaques along the beginning of the Lower Loop trail. There is limited parking near the trailhead, so be prepared to bike or walk out Peanut Lake Road from town or from the parking area near Three Ladies Park and then walk or bike the Lower Loop path, stopping along the benches to take a break.
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.
If you want a full-day experience in the glory of a high alpine lake, there are two great options.
Lake Irwin is a picturesque recreation area just outside of Crested Butte. The lake has camping, fishing, non-motorized 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.
Lost Lake is several miles further up Kebler Pass Road with similar options of camping, fishing, non-motorized water crafts and restrooms in a picturesque setting. Gentle hiking paths that form a forested loop around the lake can be done as short out and back walks or a complete loop accessing other, smaller alpine lakes and totaling about four miles.
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 town of Crested Butte’s rec path footbridge, Gunsight Bridge, and the Lower Loop all offer great 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, shelter and picnic tables with a large playground structure for all ages and a climbing boulder for older kids.
-Pirate Park also has shelter, picnic tables and climbing landscapes for a range of ages. Located right behind the Center for the Arts.
-Crested Butte Community School playground is in a sunny spot.
-Three Ladies Park on Butte Avenue is great for toddlers, and has public restrooms.
-Henderson Park was renovated last summer as a pocket park for toddlers, with a shaded picnic table, interactive elements and a small climbing structure. Located at Third and White Rock Avenue.
-Mt. Crested Butte has the Ted Scheske Park and playground north of the ski area on Gothic Road, below town hall.
Bikes and boards
The Crested Butte Mountain Bike Park is a pump track behind the Community School with routes for all levels, even toddlers on balance bikes.
Big Mine skate park is being renovated this summer for better function in the future.
Check out the newly reopened Trailhead Children’s Museum at 501 Elk Avenue, where kids of all ages can find arts, crafts, building and science discovery stations centered around open-ended play. Bring a snack or lunch to enjoy on the outdoor patio facing Elk Avenue. www.trailheadkids.org
The Crested Butte Library, located within the historic two-room schoolhouse in the Old Rock Building is petite, but packs in a lot of materials and activities. These include a children’s section, young adult section, games and puzzles, regular storytimes, crafts and other unique activities for youth throughout the summer. 504 Maroon Avenue, www.gunnisoncountylibraries.org/crested-butte-library.