Oh-Be-Joyful

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 11.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 8,943 - 10,534 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 5 hrs.
Trailhead: Oh-Be-Joyful
Fee: none
Attractions: Forest hike, deer, bears




The Oh-Be-Joyful trail is located in the Raggeds Wilderness Area of the Gunnison National Forest near the town of Crested Butte, Colorado. The trail begins along the Slate River at the Oh-Be-Joyful campground where it travels up a narrow valley along Oh-Be-Joyful Creek coming to an end below Oh-Be-Joyful Peak (12,420 feet) at a junction with the Daisy Pass trail.


The trailhead is about 5 miles north of Crested Butte. To get there follow County Road 734, the Slate River Road, to the Oh-Be-Joyful Recreation Area.


For those that don't have a campsite from which to begin there is parking near the restrooms as well as at the trailhead just across the Slate River. During spring runoff the water might be too high to drive across.


The trail begins climbing up a moderate slope through a dark forest of spruce and fir trees as it turns away from the Slate River.


After leveling off considerably there is a nice view of Oh-Be-Joyful creek cascading down a stretch of granite slickrock and into a small gorge before emptying into the Slate River.


Hiking is pretty easy for the first couple of miles as the route follows an old jeep road.


Near the 1 mile point the trail crosses into the Raggeds Wilderness Area.


As the trail continues it soon reaches the end of the old jeep road and becomes a more primitive single track that alternates between small clearings and patches of forest.


Eventually the trail passes through a long open stretch of valley where wildlife is easily viewable at times along the fringes of the meadows. During the spring runoff there are waterfalls that are hundreds of feet in length that spill down from the upper basins. Beaver ponds create pools of water in places that slow the flow of the creek creating a very lush environment of willows, grasses and wildflowers.


After watching a doe with suckling twin fawns we came across a bear that had 2 small cubs in tow. Upon spotting us the bear signalled for her cubs to begin climbing the trees while she would draw us away from them. The first cub began climbing immediately but she had to get after the second one to get it to obey. After it had climbed to safety she lumbered off a short distance and then stood and faced us. It would have been nice to step into the small grove of trees and get photos of the cubs but rather than stress them any further we stayed on the trail and took a few more pictures of the mama bear before going on our way.


Somewhere between the 3 and 4 mile point the trail passes through a green gate where the peaks that form the ridgeline around the upper basin begin coming into view.


The trail gets quite a bit steeper as it makes its final climb up to the Daisy Pass trail. From here you can hike to the left a short distance and get a nice view into the basin around Blue Lake and the impressive Mt. Owen (13,058 feet) that towers above it. A keen eye can also spot the trail as it travels through the basin and over Daisy Pass. Going to the right at this point leads to the Oh-Be-Joyful Pass trail.


The Oh-Be-Joyful trail is heavily used as many of the trails in the Crested Butte area are. For the best wildlife viewing opportunities you will want to be on the trail during the twilight hours when the deer, elk and bears are the most active. Backpackers will find several primitive campsites in the upper basin. If at all possible the best etiquette is to find a spot to camp that is away from the main route and preferably secluded from the view of any passersby. The moderate rating of difficulty that we gave the trail is for anyone that is 'Colorado fit'. Others will probably find the round trip distance coupled with the 2,001 feet of elevation gain to be quite strenuous. Most hikers that we observed were turning around well before the end of the trail which is also fine. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.