When you think of summer in Crested Butte, Colorado, you think of Lake Irwin. The closest lake to town accessible by car, this lake is a haven for tourists and locals alike to cool off, fish, hike around, and now SUP.
It is one of the most popular destinations in town, and takes about 15-20 minutes or 9 miles to get to from town. Turn down Whiterock towards Kebler Pass Road, and follow the signs to Lake Irwin. Make sure at the split you turn right on USFS road 826. The road is dirt and it does get bumpy, so make sure your boards, coolers, etc are tied down for the ride. Once you get up to Irwin, you can park by the picnic tables, or cross the water to the main parking area on the other side, or even drive up around to the camping area and the big rock. Note: There is no cell phone service or WiFi at Lake Irwin, so make sure you plan on a meeting spot if you are meeting friends and family.
No matter where you choose to park, make sure you find a nice area to set up for the day. There are no shops or areas to buy ice or food up at Lake Irwin, so make sure to purchase your picnic lunch and beverages in town before you head up. There are tons of rainbow trout and brook trout stocked and ready to catch from your SUP or kayak.
There are a few hikes to be found around Lake Irwin, including the mile and a half shoreline hike and Scarps Ridge via Middle Loop being the most popular. The lake, though, is the main draw and there is no better way to enjoy it then from a paddle board. This picturesque lake sits at 10,200 feet and is overlooked by the Ruby Range to the west. This location makes for gorgeous photos with the snowcapped mountains in the background. You can easily paddle around the lake and it is usually well protected from the wind. Per usual, it's always a good idea to bring a towel and dry change of clothes any time you are playing in or around water in the high alpine region of Colorado.
Lake Irwin is a family friendly lake with plenty of nature and activities to keep the whole family happy for the day or longer. There is a campground available, and reservations are highly recommended. Don't forget to grab your paddle board from CB SUP on your way up to the Lake, and enjoy making memories in Crested Butte!