After taking a year off to check out Steamboat Springs, we headed back to Crested Butte this year for wildflower viewing, biking and drinking. We were smarter this time around and booked a condo earlier in the year. It could have been a little bigger, but for four people it was just fine. We had a nice view of Mt. Crested Butte from the balcony and even better, we were dry when it rained.
We started the trip off on Thursday with a great warm-up ride. From the Welcome Center parking lot, we headed back to the bike path and took that up to the Lupine Trail in the Saddle Ridge (or ranch) subdivision. As you’re on the bike path, watch for the 7% grade sign. Not long after this there will be a piece of singletrack on the left that will take you up to the main road. Cross over, bike up through the subdivision, and you’ll see the trail sign.
Lupine is a great intermediate addition to the Crested Butte trails. After a short initial climb, it rolls along for several miles before providing riders with a wicked fun set of downhill switchbacks. At the bottom you can either climb up the doubletrack for “middle Lupine” or turn off onto Slate River road. I recommend riding middle Lupine. You’ll stay on the doubletrack for a bit and then the trail will split. Lupine goes downhill again through the woods and onto another set of fun switchbacks before finally dumping you out on the road.
From here, turn right and continue down Slate River Road to the bridge crossing the creek. You can pick up Lower Loop and ride it, or any of the trails off of it, like Upper Lower Loop, from here.
This ride is perfect for the first day because it allows you to get acclimated without bursting your lungs. Plus it can be done right from town!
Lower Loop Trail, Crested Butte Colorado
On Friday, since Adelle had never ridden the 401 trail, we decided it had to be done. We don’t ride it often because the uphill singletrack is brutal, but we knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime ride, so we figured we’d suck it up. I’m SO glad we did because the wildflowers were more spectacular than I’ve ever seen up there! We were battling rain, hoping to beat it to the bottom, but we had to stop and take a few pictures because…wow.
So from CB we drove up Gothic Road to the “end” parking area. This is not the one just outside of the town of Gothic. This one is a few miles further up the road and is at the end of the “upper” 401. We’ve found the lower 401 really isn’t worth the ride; we’d rather go ride Snodgrass. Anyway, we parked here and rode the 4 or so miles up to Schofield Pass (10,700 ft).
We made it this far!
The singletrack climb starts just across the road. It’s maybe 1.5 miles…but it can be brutal. It just requires lots of stops to push your lungs back down to where they belong. Once you reach the top, though, it’s a pretty fun ride! There are a few tough drainages to cross before the true fun downhill begins. I do not recommend doing this ride in the rain. We were fortunate and did beat it to the bottom. It started raining just as we crossed the creek at the end of the “upper” section (turn right onto the doubletrack instead of crossing it and continuing on the singletrack).
Riders on the 401 Trail in Crested Butte
This was the only ride we got in on Friday because the rain continued all day long. Luckily we were tucked away in our condo with plenty of beer and snacks.
Saturday was just an “ok” ride day. The trails were pretty wet, so riding Snodgrass was a bit of a feat. It was way more pedal-y than normal and the roots of course were slippery. The same was true with Upper Loop. We finally headed down Tony’s to town and had a great afternoon of burgers with some local friends before climbing the bike path back to the condo.
Sunday looked like rain early on, so we opted not to ride Doctor’s Park. Boooooooooo. Since a friend of ours had arrived late and really wanted to ride Lupine, we rode that again and added in the new Gunsight trail that branches off of middle Lupine. It was an intense ride! A few miles of climbing were followed by several miles of tight switchbacks, aspens and even a weirdly dark tunnel. There was one bizarre up hill in the middle that we all could have done without. We hit Lower Loop (Gunsight comes out right across from the bridge over the river) and booked it back to town as the rain started to fall.
CB doesn’t disappoint and it’s predictable: it’s going to rain at some point. Be prepared with rain coats and bail out options! For more information on any of the trails listed here, visit 14erskiers.com or mtbproject.com