Get Out! Crested Butte provides trails for all levels

The Lower Loop trail in Crested Butte is an easy ride for beginners, with plenty of beautiful scenery to take in as you pedal along.



Combining the Lupine Trail with Tony’s Trail and Upper Loop results in a pleasant 15-mile loop for intermediate riders.



QUICKREAD

Crested Butte trails

If you go

Take plenty of snacks for the longer rides and plenty of water. The altitude adjustments can be cruel, and water will make them easier. Definitely take a map or trail description and your camera. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

To get there

For the trails from town you can park in the free public parking behind the Visitor’s Center.

Butte Avenue is just north of here, and the dirt road leading to Tony’s Trail is east, toward the meadows and bike path.

For the Doctor’s Park trail, from Crested Butte head south to the Jack’s Cabin Cutoff road.

Turn left and follow this to County Road 742. Turn left and drive past Harmel’s and up to the parking area near North Bank campground.

Leave a car here because the trail ends at the campground.

Turn around and head back down the road, turning right onto Spring Creek Road (744).

Drive eight miles up the road and you’ll see, on the right, an obvious river crossing with a jeep road on the far side.

Park here, ford the creek and start the Doctor Park climb.



Each July we pack up the car and head to Crested Butte for four days of biking and camping. The trails there are vastly different from the trails we have here.

They’re filled with wildflowers and aspens and often require you to cross creeks. Views of Mount Crested Butte replace views of Mount Garfield, and cooler temperatures provide relief from the desert heat of the Western Slope.

The trails here vary in length and technical ability; we sampled some of everything this year.

For beginners

From town you can access the Lower Loop trail network. These trails flow through the meadows on the western side of the Slate River road above Oh-Be-Joyful creek. Head west on Butte Avenue and across the pedestrian bridge. You can pick up a spur of singletrack there or follow the dirt road past Peanut Mine to the official start of the Lower Loops.

Usually in July the meadows are covered with wildflowers. You’ll have great views up the Slate River Valley on your way out and views of Mount Crested Butte on your way back. The few technical spots on these trails are easy to walk around if you need to.

For intermediates

We discovered a great new trail this year and, by combining it with a few others, created a great third-day loop. It was long, about 15 miles, but not very strenuous or technical.

From town we took the dirt road one block south of the Crested Butte bike path to Tony’s Trail, which connects you with the Upper Loop. We turned left on the Upper Loop and biked to the resort and then briefly down the highway (Gothic Road) turning right into the Saddle Ridge area. The Lupine Trail starts here at the end of a cul-de-sac and is clearly marked.

This stretch of singletrack takes you through aspen groves and traverses some beautiful hillsides. At an intersection with a jeep road, climb up the jeep road briefly before picking the trail back up in an aspen grove. The Lupine Trail will end at the Slate River road where you can either turn left and bike back to town or turn right and bike a few minutes down to the bridge crossing Oh-Be-Joyful creek. Cross the bridge and take the Lower Loop trails back into town.

I loved the length of this loop and the fact that, after a strenuous ride the day before, this one was more mellow. The views were amazing, and this newly built trail by the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association was in great shape.

For experts/advanced riders

There are some classic rides, like the 401, that should be experienced by everyone.

However, if you’re looking for something different, the Doctor Park ride out in the Taylor Park area is not to be missed. This can be done without a shuttle, if you’re so inclined, but I’ll describe it with the shuttle.

From the start, eight miles up Spring Creek Road, you’ll see an obvious jeep road across a creek. Ford the creek (by foot or by riding the creek) and begin the climb. After about three miles of climbing (bearing right at intersections), you’ll reach the woods. Sometimes the woods are fun; sometimes the woods are boggy. Either way, once you reach the other side you’ll be glad you stuck with this trail.

A mile or so of technical downhill is followed by the fastest flowing singletrack I’ve ever encountered. You’ll fly through an aspen forest with your hands on the brakes and a grin on your face before climbing up another hill and picking your way through some fun technical sections on your way down to the North Bank campground. This trail is one of my favorites partly because it’s so hard. I like the challenge of that. Couple that with the amazingly fast singletrack, and you’ve got a beautiful ride worth the pain of the jeep road climb.

Resources

There are some great resources out there for learning more about these trails and others in Crested Butte. VisitCrestedButte.com and CBMBA.org are good places to start. Your local bike shops and recreational stores can also help you out by providing maps and books on the area.


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