Location: Between Empire and Winter Park on 40
December 6, 2015
Today, David and I decided to snowshoe Butler’s Gulch. It is located off 40 between Empire and Winter Park. We left at 9am without any ski traffic so it was a nice quick trip, maybe 1-1.5 hours. Many cars were already at the parking location as the area is popular for back country skiing.
We parked on the side of the road and made the short walk to the trailhead. The first three quarters of the trail through the trees was packed snow, so we only needed our microspikes to climb 1,000 feet or so over the 2 miles. We enjoyed pleasant skies until we left the forest. Once we stopped for lunch out in the open the wind picked up.
There were several ski paths from our lunch area. We weren’t sure which to take to get to the old mining equipment. I was already chilled, and knowing that this hike is a “century” hike for wildflowers (meaning there are 100 kinds), I didn’t mind turning around. In fact, for some reason, in the winter I never mind turning around. I think it is because there are only trees and snow to see. Of course, the snow covered view is lovely, but I like all the different wildflower colors better!
So turning back after a nice snowshoe will only incentivize me to return in the summer to complete the trail, as normally I don’t like doing the same trail twice. I look forward to seeing all the wildflowers and the mining equipment in the summer!
After our hike, we stopped in Empire. We’ve driven through the tiny town a dozen times, but have never stopped to investigate the five restaurants and two shops. The atmosphere at Lewis Sweet Shop looked the most eclectic from the outside. It didn’t disappoint. It offered burgers and sweets along with live music. It was fun!