Hike the Dyke to Dark Canyon Loop

6.5 miles 1700 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Johnathan Valdez

The area west of Kebler Pass has one of the largest aspen groves in Colorado which makes for some excellent Autumn hiking. Thick aspen forests, babbling brooks, and stunning overlooks makes this loop a leaf peepers paradise.

Kebler Pass near Crested Butte is a leaf peepers paradise considering that one of the largest groves of aspens in Colorado makes its home here. If you want those postcard views of rugged mountain peaks and vibrant aspens, then I recommend hiking the Dyke Trail to Dark Canyon loop. Put this on your Autumn To-Do list because it’s one of the best fall hikes around. This loop can be completed in either direction from the trail head, but I recommend doing it in a counter-clockwise fashion to avoid some steep inclines on the Dark Canyon side.

From the parking area, head to your right to start on the Dyke Mountain Bike Trail #838. You will encounter some steep inclines right from the get go, but at least you will be hiking through a thick stand of aspens that will provide you with shade. Keep in mind that this trail is also open to mountain bikers, so keep your eye out for bikers coming down the incline. After about 1.3 miles of steady uphill hiking and about 1,000 feet of elevation gain, you will reach an intersection with the Irwin Lake trail. Bear to your left and follow the sign towards the Raggeds Wilderness boundary for another 0.8 miles. A few sections of incline remain, but you will soon be reaching the trail’s high point, keep an eye out for a scree field on your left hand side as this will lead you to a spectacular overlook of Marcinella Mountain to the west and East Beckwith Mountain to the south.

After leaving the high point, the trail will lead you on a mild grade towards an open meadow below Ruby Mountain and Mount Owen. A steady descent remains towards the Raggeds Wilderness boundary. Upon reaching the boundary marker, cross a brook and prepare for a short incline that takes you through a geologic dyke. It’s not very long, but be sure to turn around once you get to the top and admire your view of Ruby Mountain. After 0.4 miles you will reach an intersection with the Oh-Be-Joyful Pass trail. Take a hard left at the intersection. From here, your path is downhill pretty much the whole way and you will begin to understand why its better taking this loop counter-clockwise. After 0.6 miles you will reach another intersection, this time with the Dark Canyon Trail. Again, stay to the left to continue towards completing the loop, only 3.4 miles remain until you reach Horse Ranch Park.

A final incline of about 200 feet remains, but generally the Dark Canyon Trail is pretty mild and flattens out quite a bit. The trail will take you on a pleasant stroll through thick aspen groves and photo opportunities are everywhere, soon you’ll feel like you’re walking through a Colorado postcard. Keep an eye out for overlooks on your right and make sure to stop and take in all of Mother Nature’s beauty. If you happened to time your hike around peak leaf color (generally late September to early October), then you’ll be hard pressed to pull yourself away from the amazing vista. Pause for a water break and a snack, you definitely won’t regret it.

This hike can be completed in about two and a half hours, but I highly recommend blocking out at least four hours and taking your time. With all the fantastic views, you’ll be stopping more than you think to enjoy them.

Read More

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

🥉Contributor

over 4 years ago

Amazing Scenery

You did a really good job of showing what there is and what it offers. We know everyone needs to read to find out more info but what really matters is the photos great job!

Stay Nearby

Carbondale, Colorado

Bogan Flats Campground Grp S

Overview Bogan Flats Campground stretches along the Crystal River in a valley of aspen groves, towering Ponderosa Pine, spruce, and willow. The setting is ideal for larger groups seeking recreatio...

Maroon Creek Road

East Maroon Portal Picnic Site

Overview East Maroon Portal Picnic Site is situated next to Maroon Creek, offering spectacular views of towering red stone cliffs, lush wetlands and evergreen forests. The area is an excellent gath...

Marble, Colorado

Thompson Creek Campground

The Thompson Creek Recreation Management Area is located just a few miles southwest of Carbondale and provides beautiful, remote recreational opportunities. On the North end of the RMA is the Lorax...

Gunnison, Colorado

Red Creek Group Site

Overview In the heart of southwest Colorado is a group camp getaway for nature lovers and outdoor sports-enthusiasts. The Red Creek Group Site is located in the Curecanti Recreation Area, just sout...

Nearby Adventures

  • Camp at Lost Lake Slough

    Lost Lake Slough offers camping, hiking, photography, kayaking, and more in a remote and beautiful part of Colorado. At an elevation of over 9,600 ft., the lake typically opens in mid-June after the snow is melted, and closes in October after the...

  • Hike the Three Lakes Trail

    The Three Lakes trail near Crested Butte is a great loop if you're looking to hit up a couple mountain lakes. At 4.5 miles with moderate incline, this trail can easily be knocked out in under 2 hours. It also is a great hike to admire fall colors ...

    4.5 miles 580 ft gain

  • Hike to Crested Butte's Scarp Ridge

    Middle Loop Approach, one of a few ways to hike Scarp Ridge, starts out on an old logging trail. The trail then opens up into a field, which is often packed with wildflowers, depending on time of year. At the first fork, continue left, at which po...

  • Camp at Kebler Pass

    Camping on Kebler Pass begins at around GPS: 38.89575, -107.214655. The pass is only available during the warmer summer months but is quite the treat. We went in August to catch an eclipse and the rolling free hills made it a great place to view f...

  • Inspire Your Fall Aspen Trip!

    Autumn days in Aspen are filled with sunshine and nights with crisp cool air. Watch the mountains and valleys turn gold with the changing Aspen trees. Take in the scenery while enjoying scenic drives, hiking through forests, road biking, and exploring our IMBA Gold Level Ride Center recognized mountain bike trails. 




    Learn More