North of Crested Butte and Gothic, the Rustler Gulch Trail is a breathtaking route heading gently up narrow, hidden valley within the Maroon Bells Wilderness. From the signed trailhead, the Rustler Gulch Trail #599 heads east up the valley through alternating pine forest and wildflower meadows with several stream crossings for roughly 3.5 miles. The route becomes more and more scenic as you ride up valley. The trail slowly degrades around five miles in as the valley ends and ascends up into a scree field.
To reach the Russlers Gulch horseback riding trailhead from Crested Butte, head north on Gothic Road (FS317) passing over the town of Mt Crested Butte and down through the Gothic townsite. About 2 miles past Gothic, there is a dirt road on the right signed for Russlers Gulch. Just prior to the turn, there is some limited roadside parking. In addition, about a half mile beyond the road up the hill, there is a larger, unsigned roadside parking area.
Start riding east on the gravel/dirt access road to Russlers Gulch. After climbing for about 0.75 miles on the dirt road, you will reach the official trailhead sign and then there is the wilderness boundary sign about 500 feet down the trail. A the official trailhead sign, there is extremely limited roadside parking for SUVs.