Snowshoeing Butcher Gulch was bliss, frosty and glorious. A beautiful blanket of deep snow covered everything. The deeper into the forest you go, the more you know winter hiking is for you!

What a snow trail. Gorgeous from beginning to end. From the parking area, we hiked up a 4×4 road for a 1/4 mile to where our path began at the signpost for Jones Pass to the right and Butler Gulch Trail to the left.  

Start with the proper gear for winter hiking

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Here we began to climb through a forest of tall pines, spruces, firs & aspens. This was so peaceful and refreshing! It’s March, and the air is crisp yet warm, with partly cloudy skies. 

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The trek gets steep, and the snow conditions make for a strenuous hike. Unfortunately, the snow is sticking to our traction devices and making ice snowballs under our feet. We might have been better off with snowshoes today — Just a tip.

We can hear whoops & hollers up above us from backcountry skiers and snowboarders. Soon to be coming downhill past us. 

Winter is a season of unpredictable weather and trail conditions. Keep warm and safe with these

> Winter Hiking Tips

Almost reaching the basin (our turnaround spot due to avalanche territory), I got symptoms of altitude sickness for the first time. I live at a high altitude and am an avid hiker. But, it’s true, anyone can get it! So, sadly this ended our hike, and we headed back down.

> Colorado High Altitude Hiking Effects and Advice

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Want to get out in winter? This trail is Colorado wild at its finest. Stunning. Be prepared. It began snowing on our way back. Check > CIAC- Colorado Avalanche Information Center before you go for the latest warnings.

Notable: Tell someone where you are going, bring layers, wear a beanie, drink lots of water (you dehydrate at high altitudes even in winter), an extra pair of socks, and an emergency blanket. 

Be Prepared with all the essentials > Day Hiker Checklist 


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+’

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

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Butler Gulch in Summer!

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

Much more hiking on Butler Gulch in summer! Go farther and higher.

Winter/Spring Trails You Will Love

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Inter-Laken Trail

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Browns Creek Falls Trail

Loch Vale 

Can't wait to see you on the trail!

Connect with me on Instagram! I enjoy hanging out there and leaving tidbits of trails I’ve hiked in Colorado. Follow me and say hi – send me a message! Follow other hikers and be inspired!

Winter Extras I Use to Keep Warm

Outdoor Research Gaiters – Keep the snow out of your boots!

Swany X-Cell 2.1 Moisture-Wicking Warm Mittens – I have had mine for 14 years! They work. Add > Hand Warmers and keep your fingers and hands stay toasty.

HotHands Insole Foot Warmers – Adhesive sticks to your socks and keep your feet warm for hours.