World Class Mountain Biking
Single Speed riders B E W A R E . . .
Crested Butte has something for every level of rider. And, although it is not on the way to anywhere, it is both a ski town and a mountain biking Mecca. It is referred to as Colorado's wildflower capitol, and in July lives up to its name. Indeed, wildflowers, good local beer, free camping, and endless single track make it a popular riding destination as soon as the snow melts in mid-June. A premiere mountain biking, mountain touring, and road biking destination, every true cyclist should visit this area at least once in her/his lifetime. Not just because it has everything from smooth single track to technical rock hops. Not just because it has short bike paths to epic multi-pass 50 milers. Nor just because it has some of the highest alpine riding you'll ever do.
No. You should come here because it is your destiny to ride the best.
Although popular, many of the trails in Crested Butte will have only a few other parties on them, making one feel a special sense of solitude and appreciation for the mountain setting.
June - Oct.
The snow melts from the upper trails in early July, but one can get on several trails, such as Hartman Rocks (in Gunnison), the Lower, and Stand Hill earlier than that. Autumn is a great time to visit, with the Aspens turning color and the streams and tourists at their lowest levels. Each trail will have seasonal concerns, so consult the local shops/folks listed below.
Although the 401 is the most popular trail, it is by no means the Best. Most of the popular trails, like the 401, are however 'cross-country' rides, and there is not a need for full suspension on many. This does not mean they are not Advanced Intermediate rides wih techy sections. Each trail descriptioon in this area should include despriptions of the general ride difficulty and technical aspects (and sections).
Many rides are done from town, and include forest road, double track, single track, and some pavement. Shuttles may prevent cyclists from having to spin on the road sections, BUT the scenery is so spectacular that the "touring" aspect of the rides adds a pleasant piece to the experience of riding in Crested Butte.
When writing a description for this area please include mileage from the Four Way in town, and include some sort of mapping information.
Prepare yourself for an acclimatization ride or two if not coming from a mile high city like SLC, ABQ, or Denver. At 8909ft., Crested Butte is a high point of departure for rides that regularly hit 10,000ft. and some that go above 12,000. Indeed some of the best trails are regularly above 11,000ft. in Breathtaking alpine meadows. A few training rides include the Lower Loop, Stand Hill area, and even the Dyke Trail.
Remember to look at the 'Trails' tab to the left for trail description pages. There are many good trails that are still not on mbpost, but you will want to do several of the ones here. Below is guidebook and map info, that would supplement these descriptions well.
Recommended Rides (include but aren't limited to):
1. Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman loop south, and east, of town this ride goes through some amazing subalpine meadows, trees, and is pretty far out there. It has great downhills!!!
2. Trail 403 loop just north of town, this ride is one of the highest in the area, and is usually done as a loop. It goes down into Gothic Valley, which is a convenient way back to town.
3. The Dyke Trail west of town, this ride can be done from town as a super long out-n-back, but is scenic in itself, and makes a great intro ride, because the uphill is on road, but the downhill is sweet single track through aspens.
4. Deer Creek loop a long ride for those that like cross country riding away from people. This ride is awesome and has over 9 miles of single track.
5. Hartman Rocks loop: This is the 'in-town' riding area in Gunnison, but don't let that fool you. Its sweet riding and has something for everyone, including technical rock hops...
6. Strand Hill loop: A great option from Crested Butte, this has steep uphill, and good downhill. It is popular for a reason!!
Guidebooks, Maps, and Resources
Crested Butte Mountain Biking Association Page
Buy the guidebook:
Holly Annala's Book is THE BEST! She's s a local and presents rides in clear and logical sections. Her suggestions of how to link things together makes sense, and ... did i mention she's a local?
You can buy it from her directly:
PO Box 2401
Crested Butte, CO 81224
Send Email email@example.com
Don't buy the local maps (but you can buy maps locally!)
Instead buy the Latitude 40 map of the crested Butte and Taylor Park area.(here's a sample from the 401 area) It is like buying a map and guidebook all in one. They have trail profiles, and difficult sections of trails marked well and routes designated clearly! Alpineer and others sell this map locally, and, when used with Holly's Book, one can quickly understand the area and plan the next day's ride.
Chamber of commerce webpage
Crested Butte is in a far off place of Colorado.
5 hours from Denver, 17 hours from Los Angeles
6.5 hours from Albuquerque, 21 hours from Seattle
9.5 from Salt Lake City, 12 hours from Phoenix
20 hours from Chicago, 15 hours from Dallas
Just know that you will have to drive a long way from anywhere, but it is well worth it. You will end up on Highway 50, and will drive to Gunnison Colorado, making a turn northward on Main St./Highway 135. Then travel 27.7 miles into Crested Butte.
Many folks will either camp or ride in the canyons outside of town, but it is worth a stop in town even if you know where to head out for your ride just to see the $1.4 million mining shacks. So grab a map and you'll find your way to town.
The Grocery and Hardware Store/convenience store/gas station are both on your left as you first come into town, so just keep an eye out for those. A key starting point for rides is called the "Four-way Stop," which is a large public parking area and happens to be where the Chamber of Commerce/tourist information place is located. That will be on your right just past the tennis courts.
Red TapeCrested Butte is a multi-use area set up for hikers, bikers, and motorcycle users, so know what trail you're on and who to watch out for.
This is all noted on the suggested Latitude 40 Map in the resources section above.
Crested Butte Mountain Biking Association Page
The Eldo: the microbrewery with great IPA, $3 pints, and its the music venue of CB
Teocalli Tamali: sightly high priced and tasty burritos, tacos, etc., a local fave.
Camp 4 Coffee
Blue Moon Books: very small selection of books but can order what you want, coffee is good, and internet is free with purchase.
Crested Butte Hostel
Old Town Inn
There are tons of other places, just check online.
Crested Butte has several FREE dispersed camping areas. Gothic Road, Slate River Road, and Cement Creek are all options. You can usually camp near where you're going to ride
I suggest, however, that you pick one spot and keep it. It works out better, because CB is busy and someone will take the spot you vacate (because its free).
Here are some options:
Almont Campground Take Highway 135 south from Crested Butte through town of Almont. Cross bridge and continue for about 1/2 mile. Campground is on left. Camp beside the Gunnison River. Restrooms, tables and barbeques are available. Reservations needed for Forest Service Campgrounds here, please call 1-877-444-6777.
Brush Creek Car camping sites available. Go 4+ miles up Brush Creek Road. No facilities. Reservations not needed for camping here.
Cement Creek Campground Take Highway 135 south about 6.8 miles from Crested Butte or Mt. Crested Butte to Cement Creek Road (Forest Road 740). Turn left and continue on main road for 4 miles to campground on right. Creekside trails and forested campsites available with restrooms, tables and barbeques. Reservations needed for Forest Service Campgrounds here, please call 1-877-444-6777.
Gothic Campground Forest Service campground 1-2 miles past the town of Gothic towards Schofield Pass. Please call 1-877-444-6777. Also many unimproved/no facilities sites in the area.
Irwin Campground Take the Kebler Pass Road (County Road 12) west for 16 miles, then turn right on Irwin turnoff (Forest Road 826). Drive to Irwin Campground. Lakeside and forested campsites. Restrooms and barbeques available. Reservations needed for Forest Service Campgrounds here. Please call 1-800-877-444-6777.
Paradise Divide Many unimproved car camping sites on the west side of the pass at Paradise Divide. No facilities. Get there via Slate River Road/Pittsburg, Washington Gulch, or Gothic/Schofield Pass.
Slate River Unimproved car camping sites start 2-3 miles up Slate River Road from Crested Butte. Watch for signs warning you of private land along various parts of the road. Anything else is fair game. No facilities.
Taylor Canyon Take Highway 135 south from Crested Butte through town of Almont. Turn left up Taylor Canyon Road. Choose among several campgrounds in Taylor canyon. All are near the river, with restrooms, tables and firepits. One-Mile camp has RV hookups. Rosy Lane is wheelchair accessible. Reservations needed for Forest Service Campgrounds here. Please call 1-877-444-6777.
Washington Gulch Unimproved car camping sites 4-5 miles up Washington Gulch Road. Watch for private land. No facilities.