If you want a more unpopular route with more of a mountain climbing challenge, this route is for you. Gunsight Pass is located about a mile down Slate River Road (in which cuts off at the end of Crested Butte). It was an old mining road in which they mined various materials out of. Gunsight Pass basically zig-zags up the back of Mout Emmons. Today it is mainly used as a mountain bike path and a jeep/4WD road.
If you have a 4WD vehicle (i recommend a jeep), this hike is a side trip from the top however during the past couple years, the shale slope that leads to the top is currently experiencing major erosion, which causing various land slides to block the road. I believe they put up a ROAD CLOSED sign where these slides start. You have the option to go past the sign but I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU GO PAST THIS SIGN FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY
. Instead hike up to the top of Gunsight pass then from there, and go to the summit of Mount Emmons.
As said in the previous section. From Crested Butte, go out of town towards the cemetery and right after you pass the cemetery, Make a left turn onto an easy 2WD dirt road. This road is called Slate River Road. Go about a mile or so until you see a sign to the left that says Gunsight Pass. From there, go all the way down to the river, there is an old bridge that recently has been re-enforced so you can walk across it and/or take your bike. If you have a 2WD or low clearance vehicle, DO NOT CONTINUE
. The river in most of the summer is very deep and the remaining road is very narrow and hairy. Only 4WD vehicles are recommend to continue.
Main route (red) Additional routes (not reccomended ; blue and purple, grade III and grade IV)
Driving hiking or biking, the remaining route could strike some people as difficult. This old road is not well maintained and is going through some severe erosion so use caution from here.
So after you have crossed the river, you go through some bushes before you start gaining elevation. Once the elevation gain starts, you zig-zag through some aspen and pine trees. Most of the way is in trees, but you start to loose the aspens in the beginning and most of it turns into pine. You are going to witness many narrow parts until you get up to Daisy Mine. Daisy Mine once stood, but recently collapsed and now is a pile of debris. After you pass the structure, the road becomes less stable and the rocks become bigger. And soon after you pass the mine you reach the Road Closed sign. As I said in the Overview, if you are driving a 4WD vehicle up this, do not go passed the sign, and instead hike up the remaining route. From here is a half a mile to the top of the pass and about .75 miles to the summit of Mount Emmons. The top of the pass is 12,090 feet and there is often snow around the rock wall on the top.
So from here, go the the left, passing a gate that says "No Bicycles". Go up a moderate class 2 of scrambling to the top of a ridge. The summit is in view from here. Go across the ridge to the summit. The summit is marked by a stick of random stuff and a plate that says "Mount Emmons" and "Red Lady Bowl" on it. Go back the way you came unless you know the other routes. It would be considered trespassing if you bushwhack down the mountain slope towrds town.
Round Trip Mileage: 11.5 miles
Since this is an easy class 2, there is no extreme mountain climbing gear you need. Some hiking boots with good tread are recommended. And to be safe, maybe a rock helmet for the last .75 the summit due to the extremely loose shale rock.