Gothic Mountain, Crested ButteGothic Mountain, 12,625 ft.
Gothic, CO (Crested Butte, CO)
From the Washington Gulch Trailhead, Gothic Road.
Would list this as difficult due to elevation gain, 9,600 (TH) to 12,625 summit.
The Washington Glulch Trailhead is past the old mining town of Gothic. The TH is about 6.5 miles from Mt. Crested Butte.
There is a fee campground and free campground at the trailhead.
The first part of the trail is steep (1,000 ft in 1 mile) and switchbacks through acres of Skunk Cabbage and other wildflowers until it meanders through a meadow and into the evergreen trees. It can be very beautiful in July. This trail had lots of wildflowers: columbine, fairy trumpets, flax, sunflowers, glacier lilies, marsh marigolds, paint brush, and many more. (Take bug spray, lots of biting flies and mosquitoes in the cabbage.)
The trail is frequented by bikes, so be careful if you take your dog. But this summer there were lots of downed trees across the trail, so we didn't see any bikes and only a few tracks on the trail.
The Washington Gulch trail will take you on the north side of Gothic Mountain. From the trail you will get glimpses of the north-facing bowl. The trail will eventually climb the NW Ridge of the bowl, notice the two false summits along the ridge.
Follow the WG trail about 2 miles from the TH. It kind of follows Rock Creek and will cross the creek at about 1.5 miles. Go another 1/2 mile until you come to an obvious opening in the trees near 11,000 ft., a small meadow, maybe 1/2 to 2/3 of an acre. (You'll know you're getting close when the trail takes a hard right.#1) From the meadow you have a clear view of the NW ridge of the north facing bowl. The main WG trail will go right, but a faint trail will lead you left into another larger meadow, toward the ridge.
(I did this trail report, because I couldn't find much info on this trail, specifically when it split from the WG trail. #1 When the trail takes that hard right, there is a trail leading left. We took it, but 20 yards in, numerous downed trees covered the trail and we lost it. We didn't take a lot time to try to find it because we weren't sure if this was the correct turn. We found were this trail probably met the trail we followed near the hill area. I'm guessing this used to be the trail to the ridge.)
On the other side of the meadow, the trail will become more obvious and there were a few carins along the way. The trail will take you over the small hill at the base of the ridge, so a bit of up and down before you get to the ridge. (The hill is obvious on a topo map, at about 11,150 ft.)
Once you start going up again, watch as the trail will go toward the right/ the west side of the mountain (maybe near 11,100-11,200). Don't go that way. We followed it and it was obvious others had also. Lots of small trails head back to the NW ridge. There was a pile snow blocking the trail, that's why we went right. (Coming down it was clear which way we should have gone.) If you go the wrong way, the trees will thin and you won't be able to see the ridge.
The trail climbs the ridge line. From the points earlier on the trail you can see the trail on the ridge. Towards the top, the rocks are loose. Watch your step.
The trail reaches 12,490 ft. the high point of the NW ridge. Then it follows the lip of the north-facing bowl, to another east-facing bowl lip and descends about 200 ft., then back up to the summit of Gothic Mountain at 12,600. The summit has beautiful views of the surrounding Elk Mountains, the Maroon Bells, Mt. Crested Butte, Cinnamon Mountain, Avery Peak and the town of Crested Butte.
(I think you could also use the WG trailhead on Washington Gulch Road and hike to the meadow. It would not be as steep in the beginning or as long, the TH is at 11,000. But probably not as many wildflowers on that side.)
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