We visited Crested Butte last month, and discovered an off-road trail from Crested Butte to Paradise Divide, and back through Gothic to Crested Butte. This is an easy (but should be done with a 4WD vehicle) and remarkedly scenic loop that traverses two river valleys and crosses Schofield Pass near the loop’s northern apex. The road serves as a connector to numerous other 4WD roads. Autumn colors are spectacular.
The route begins about a mile or so north of Crested Butte and winds along the Slate River Valley past Oh Be Joyful Creek, a number of campgrounds and the little town (?) of Pittsburg. As the road gets further up the valley it begins a number of switchbacks high up to Paradise Divide at 11266′ elevation. At that point the trail winds down past Emerald Lake to Gothic, and runs along the East River valley back to Crested Butte. The loop is 21.5 miles in length and takes about two hours. An interesting fact is that about two miles from the summit, another spur runs over Schofeld Pass, through a rocky section called the Devil’s Punchbowl and on down to Marble.