The Lower 401 Trail was not quite the trail that the upper-401 had been. Don’t get me wrong, it was great compared to most anywhere else, just not the perfect Disney-Roller-Coaster-track of the Upper 401 Trail. Great views? Yes, but not breathtaking.
Immediately, there were a handful of streams to cross, some with neat little bridges. It was in this section that I came across a man working on the trail. I ALWAYS stop and talk to say “THANK YOU!” to anyone that is helping to improve our sport. And this time was no different.
Eric was a Forest Ranger in Arkansas. Every summer he got laid-off. In order to regain his job he was given two choices of how to spend his summer. He could either take classes to further his education, or he could volunteer to do trail repair. He said he had chosen trail repair in Crested Butte every time. He would sleep along the stretch of trail he was currently working on (in this case, the Lower-401 Trail) except once a week… when he would drive into Gunnison and stay at the KOA (we ran into him again that next weekend… he was in a Kamping Kabin next to ours.
Eric warned me about a major mud slide I was going to come across shortly (on the Lower-401 Trail) and I thanked him again, then headed off down the trail. Less than a mile further I was shocked to see a house set back off to the left. It looked like a nice place but sort of had an abandoned look. I figured it must be someone’s summer cabin and they hadn’t visited lately. I sat down by their gate and ate some trail mix. The flies were a real nuisance so I ate quickly.
Please enjoy this interactive map of the entire 401 Trail.
Sure enough, within a mile I came across a “canyon” about 30 feet wide and 3-4 feet deep (the one Eric had warned me about). It came straight down the hill and water had removed all of the soil, leaving just underlying boulders. I had to hopscotch across here with mountain bike in hand.
The last 2+ miles of the 401 were mostly shaded, fast, and delightful (after the hike-a-bike). I rode this stretch with abandon, recklessly trying to catch and pass those 2 bikers. I shot down the last hill and slid to a stop in Copper Creek parking area. The guy and girl were nowhere in sight!! At least 6 riders were putting their mountain bikes on racks to make the 7.5 mile drive back to Crested Butte. Not me. Cindy was still on her hike and I had another ride that I wanted to do. A 5.5 mile trek down Gothic Road brought me to the trailhead for my second ride of the day. I couldn’t wait to see what this new ride (called Snodgrass) had in store.
To see some footage of this ride click the YouTube video above.
Click Upper 401 Trail to see the first leg of this ride.