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Scarp Ridge -> Mount Emmons

Crested Butte

Traverse a stunning alpine ridge to reach the summit of 12,401-foot Mount Emmons, the Red Lady.

Hiking Difficult

17 km
1 km
1 km
5-6 hrs
Low Point
3.2 km
High Point
3.8 km
Scarp Ridge -> Mount Emmons Map

If you’re looking for a hike in Crested Butte offering panoramic vistas of mountains in all directions, look no further than this out-and-back hike to Mount Emmons via Scarp Ridge. On this hike “you’ll get incredible open meadows full of wildflowers, and exposed ridgelines with sweeping, 360-degree views of the mountains, rust-colored cliffs, and emerald alpine lake,” according to Travel Crested Butte. "Even if you don’t make it all the way to the peak of Red Lady (Mt. Emmons, officially), you won’t be disappointed with this as an out-and-back.”


The hike begins at Lake Irwin, climbing steeply up a switchbacked trail to gain the top of Scarp Ridge. If in doubt, bear right at any junctions, as you’ll be traversing the ridge to climber’s right.

Once you gain the top of Scarp Ridge, the trail follows the ridge all the way to Gunsight Pass. In a few places, the trail may disappear briefly, but as long as you follow the top of the ridge, you’ll stay on course. Enjoy the views from this stunning traverse trail—it doesn’t get much better than this!

The highpoint of the ridge is marked by a post. If you’re tired by this point, this is a great spot to turn around.

From here, the trail drops steeply down to Gunsight Pass before the final push to the summit of Mount Emmons. Once on top of Emmons, soak in the stunning views of the Elk Range and Crested Butte below you—you’ve earned it!

Return the way you came to get back to your car. Alternatively, you could choose to stage a second vehicle at Oh-Be-Joyful and turn this route into a traverse by dropping down the north side of the ridge. Only choose this option if you’ve prepared for it, though!

Sources: https://travelcrestedbutte.com/crested-butte-hiking-5-bucket-list-trails/ https://travelcrestedbutte.com/crested-butte-trails-red-lady-mt-emmons-via-scarp-ridge/ https://www.summitpost.org/scarp-ridge/1004075



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

between July and October


  • Alpine
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area