View of Nicholson Lake and Mount Whetstone from the Kikel Parcel
Kikel Lot 3

Open Space & Trails

The Town of Crested Butte has supported open space preservation and stewardship for over 30 years. In the fall of 1991, the Crested Butte Town Council asked its voters to double the real estate transfer tax, from 1.5% to 3%, in order to provide new funds to help preserve open space.

The Town has spent over eight million dollars to help preserve over 8,500 acres of land. Some of the Town’s partners in these projects have included 1% for Open Space, the Crested Butte Land Trust, the Gunnison Valley Land Preservation Board, the Trust for Public Land, Great Outdoors Colorado, private donors, land owners, and developers. The Town owns over 600 acres of open space, including the Town Ranch, Kochevar and Kikel Parcels. The Town holds conservation easements on an additional 1,000 acres of land which encompass many of our surrounding trails.

The Town is active in open space projects. With the help of community partners, Town monitors lands to ensure that conservation values are upheld, undertakes stewardship projects to keep lands healthy, and builds and maintain trails including the Woods Walk, Lupine, Green Lake, and Baxter Gulch.



Information Regarding Commercial Use/Guided Tours on Town-Managed Open Space & Trails:

Do you guide bike or hike tours, teach skills clinics, host special events, or lead play groups on the trails in the Gunnison Valley? Do you charge a fee or derive income from your group or activity? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, please read below for information regarding commercial use on our properties.

Many of the trails close to the Town are owned and/or managed by a mix of private property owners, the Crested Butte Land Trust and the Town of Crested Butte. Public access on these trails is granted via easement. This real property interest requires us to manage these trails and properties according to specific legal parameters that help protect the conservation values of the property, including commercial activity.

If you are interested in leading a commercial or special use activity on, or near the Lupine 2 Trail, Lower Loop Trail System, Budd Trail or Gunsight Connector, you must contact the Crested Butte Land Trust at least 90 days prior to the start of your activity to submit a commercial/special use request. If you are leading a commercial activity on the Lupine 1 Trail, Baxter Gulch, Green Lake Trail, or the Deli Trail, then you must contact the Town of Crested Butte to submit your request.

Commercial use on the Woods Walk Trail and on the Slate River is prohibited. In order to approve your request, both the Land Trust and Town must ensure that your request adheres to the conservation easement of the requested trail(s) and that your entity lists the Town and Land Trust as additionally insured on their insurance policy.

Contact Information: 

Town of Crested Butte: Joey Carpenter, Recreation, Open Space & Trails Supervisor

Crested Butte Land Trust: Jon Mugglestone-Stewardship Director

Learn more about the Town's Open Space & Trails Projects: 

Recently Completed Projects

Schutt Conservation Easement

The Crested Butte Land Trust worked diligently for over two years to create a palatable deal structure to conserve the 107 acre Schutt parcel, which encompasses the meanders of the middle slate river east of Town Ranch. Town, as the primary funder of this easement at $750,000, was proud to contribute dedicated open space funding from the Real Estate Transfer Tax to conserve these lands in perpetuity. This parcel adds to the total of over 550 acres in the middle slate river corridor that Town has been directly involved in conserving through easements, acquisitions, annexations, and land conservation covenants.

Mogul Storage Trails

Town and the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association worked with local stakeholders and trail builder Tulip Trails West to design and build the 'Mogul Storage' trail system. These are intermediate/advanced downhill specific mountain bike trails utilizing natural and built features to create large jumps, berms and drops. The community demand has continued to grow for downhill specific, stacked trail systems, near Town that can be difficult to achieve with multi-use priorities on federal lands nearby. The PROST department is proud to fill this community desire and looks forward to future expansions.

Kikel 3 Acquisition and Conservation

In late 2021, the Town of Crested Butte closed as the fee title owner on the 59 acre Kikel 3 parcel on Smith Hill. Working with the Crested Butte Land Trust, a deal was built around transferring the title of the property while simultaneously conserving it and making the seller eligible for conservation tax credit. This structure was a win-win-win for all three parties to connect 4 other properties that are owned/held under easement by CBLT & Town.

Long Lake Land Exchange


The Crested Butte Town Council passed Resolution No. 12 Series No. 2018 to authorize the expenditure of up to $1,000,000 from the Town’s Open Space Fund for the purchase and conservation of approximately 613 acres adjacent to Fossil Ridge to facilitate the preservation of Long Lake. The Town supports this project as the protection of Long Lake is in the best interest of protecting the conservation values of recreational access, wildlife, ranching, and scenic views present on Long Lake, and therefore in the best interests of the Town and the public.

 More information on the Long Lake Land Exchange Project can be found here:

Current Projects

Town Ranch Water Attenuation

Town staff have been working with Arable Earth LLC to reattenuate water across the Town Ranch property south of Town. This 175 acre property predominately comprised of preserved historic wetlands has a drainage ditch that was installed prior to its preservation & acquisition by Town. This ditch has become severly incised, up to 5 feet deep in places and quickly drains water from the wetlands during runoff. To restore the wetlands and property to its historic character, Town and the contracted restoration practitioners at Arable Earth aim to utilize Beaver Dam Analog type structures to slow down and spread out water across the property. This practice combined with native species restoration, interior fence removal, and noxious weed mitigation will improve this valuable riparian habitat. Make sure to look for the elk herds in the fall while they seek refuge on this and adjacent protected properties from hunters.

Red Lady Open Space Ladder Fuels Mitigation

Open Space staff are working alongside the Colorado State Forest Service and two private landowners to engage a contractor on the Red Lady Open Space to perform ladder fuels mitigation and crown separation to reduce the potential for a stand replacing fire to enter the stand. This popular open space are is directly adjacent to Town and through a grant furnished by the West Region Wildfire Council, staff have been able to secure funding for nearly half the project cost from outside sources. This project aims to improve forest stand health in the immediate area, reduce beetle kill, protect structures in Town from wildfire risk, improve access, and ensure egress routes are usable along Highway 135 should a crown level fire enter the stand.

Slate River Working Group

Over the past five years, river recreational use on the Slate River has increased substantially, which has led to new concerns about habitat protection, water quality, commercial use, and the protection of private property. These issues are compounded by the patchwork of landowners and managers along the banks of the Slate.  As open space managers in the Slate River Valley, the Town of Crested Butte and Land Trust recognize their obligation to uphold the ecological, economic, and recreational resource for the community. To address the challenge of integrating the needs and desires of many different stakeholders along the Slate River, the Town and Land Trust convened a collaborative working group during the summer of 2018.  The Slate River Working Group, made up of 18 stakeholders, worked together to identify and address river-specific management opportunities present in a 10.5-mile reach of the Upper Slate River, from the Oh-Be-Joyful campground to the north, to the Skyland Bridge to the south. In Fall of 2018, the Working Group released an adaptive management plan with suggested management approaches which the Working Group will begin implement in 2019.

To read the management plan and learn more about the process, please click here:

GMUG Forest Plan Revision

The Town of Crested Butte is participating in the GMUG Forest Plan Revision. The Forest Plan serves similarly to a city or county comprehensive plan and guides the management of the Forest for at least fifteen years. The forest plan was released to the public on August 30th 2023, opening a 60 day objection period that closes on October 30th 2023.

Released forest plan documents can be found at

For more information on the Forest Plan Revision, and to submit your own comments, please click here:

If you are interested in reading comments submitted by Town throughout the forest plan revision, please contact Open Space & Trails Staff.

Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation

The Town of Crested Butte is actively participating in Gunnison County’s sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation committee to collaboratively address and improve stewardship of our publicly accessible lands and trails. The Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) Committee is “intended and structured to be a wide-ranging group that acts thoughtfully, efficiently and proactively to address negative impacts and develops unique approaches to create a sustainable tourism economy and outdoor recreation experience while preserving the natural resources of our County.”

To learn more about the STOR committee, visit:

Crested Butte to Carbondale Trail

The Town of Crested Butte is partnering with Pitkin County Open Space, Gunnison County, and the US Forest Service Paonia Ranger District on the planning and construction of the Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail. This trail is currently in the planning phase. Construction on portions of the trail in Gunnison County could begin as soon as 2020.

 More information on the Crested Butte to Carbondale Trail here:

For more information on the Open Space & Trails Program, please contact:

Joey Carpenter
Recreation, Open Space & Trails Supervisor (970) 349-5338 x108