Butler Gulch is an incredibly beautiful hike amid a sprinkling of wildflowers, old mining remnants, a waterfall, and snow-capped peaks. Take the loop hike and find unimaginable views that take your breath away while Marmots and Pikas check you out. One of Colorados’ best day hikes, easily accessible from Denver.


Bulters Gulch Trail, Colorado hikes

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What a hike. Absolutely gorgeous from beginning to end. From the parking area, we hiked up a 4×4 road for a 1/4 mile to where the trail begins at the signpost for Jones Pass to the right and Butler Gulch Trail to the left.  Here we began to climb through a forest of tall pines, spruces, firs & aspens. This was so peaceful and refreshing but that was only the first of many more wonders.




The trail was wet in spots, with lots of melting snow run-off even in early July. At one point we got caught by surprise spotting a beautiful waterfall winding down a steep canyon.



Breaking out of the trees and “wow” the views ahead were ridiculous and so exciting. Couldn’t wait to see what was coming ahead.



Almost to the basin and It’s been a moderately steep hike so far. Now above treeline and exposed to the elements the air is crisper and cooler but luckily no ominous clouds are about.




Just before reaching the basin area, I lost my husband as he actually starting jogging towards a historic old mining ruin he spotted just off the trail. Took a while to get him to hike on… it is a remarkable site to check out.


Butlers Gulch Trail, Colorado


Here, you can stop and do an out and back hike or continue on a more strenuous section to hike along the ridgetop for a loop hike.





Getting to the ridgetop was not as hard as it appeared when looking at the trail from below before hiking up.

A trail you want to be prepared for with appropriate hiking gearCLICK HERE> for a look at the gear I use and have in my backpack on every hike.


Butlers Gulch, Colorado Trails


The views in all directions as we hiked along the top of the ridge are worth all the effort of hiking up here and doing the loop. Absolutely gorgeous.





Looking down the other side are more spectacular views only seen if on the ridgetop. Finding the trail that leads back down to form the loop is not marked. We saw others hiking so simply followed. It’s located between 2 rock ledges after about a 1/4 mile or so of hiking along the top ridge.

A non-essential item yet one I use often is a pocket guide for wildflower identification.




The tricky part was getting back down. It’s steep and rocky. I actually did it on my bottom mostly until reaching a lower section. The trail at the bottom is not as defined but keep heading down to your right and you will find yourself back on the main trail.

NOTE: You can start the loop counter-clockwise as I noticed others did and do the steeper part uphill first. Just before reaching the bowl, and you will see a rock cairn leading you to the right. Here you can do the loop and come down into the bowl and back towards the mine ruins.

A trail for trekking poles and in the spring and fall months microspikes are highly recommended.

Really enjoyed this hike. Highly recommend! 


5.5 miles out & back

Rated: moderate/strenuous

Arapaho National Forest

Nearest Towns: Empire, CO

Dogs ok on leash

No restrooms

Elevation Start 10,500′ – end 12,000+’



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I’ve had the pleasure of living in Colorado’s mountains most of my life and love sharing trails with you. Just an ordinary gal getting out there and encouraging everyone to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer! You are one step away from a trail …

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Note: Many of the links are affiliate links which means I receive a very small commission (at no added cost to you).