Get Out! Crested Butte provides trails for all levels
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.
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.
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.
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.