The Bear Creek Trail is the third leg of this 4 leg Crested Butte loop. The ride started with a steep grind up Reno Divide, and then an awesome piece of singletrack called the Flag Creek Trail.
Next up… Bear Creek! (To see any other leg of this ride just click the appropriate link below).
And now let’s continue the story… on Bear Creek.
I immediately crossed Flag Creek, which marked the end of a 3-mile DREAM on the Flag Creek Trail. I was now headed up the valley alongside Bear Creek, and it was hot! Gone were the strong winds I’d faced on top of Reno Divide. Gone were the cooling breezes caused by coasting down the Flag Creek Trail at near 25 mph.
To help visualize the landmarks I talk about in the rest of this story, or to aid in your own ride at Bear Creak, please enjoy this custom trail map I made of the loop. Bear Creek is the green track. Click the icons for info on landmarks, both general and personal to my rides.
The Bear Creek Trail then runs along the north side of the valley just under the first row of trees. I welcomed the shade (it is hard to believe I was freezing just a half hour ago atop Reno Divide). Bear Valley was very pretty, but the continuous steady climb sapped my strength. I had to walk a few of the sections… not because they were too steep … I was just out of energy. I finally decided they did’t name this stretch after an animal… but because it was a bear to climb, a 3-mile NIGHTMARE!
My spirits were lifted when I saw the sign for another junction which read “Deadman Gulch 3.5 miles” and pointed left. My GPS said I was now at 10,995 feet (no wonder I was out of breath).
After turning left I immediately passed two little Rhino vehicles that were pulled off the road. I said hello but kept pedaling, finally coming to another sign for Deadman Gulch, but this one said it was 4 miles. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense… maybe I had taken the “long”-cut? At this pace I would never make it to Deadmaan’s Gulch!! As it turned out this sign marked the beginning of either 4 miles… or 3.5 miles of excellent singletrack. I’d prefer the 4 miles… especially on this trail.
The only thing that slowed me down was a cute young lady on a new bike picking her way down the track. I followed her for 100 feet or so before she noticed I was behind her, then she pulled off the trail. I pulled off next to her and asked her how she was doing. She told me this was the first time she had ever mountain biked, and her boyfriend was down at the bottom waiting for her. I told her she was doing fine and she needed to continue at her own pace, and not worry about his waiting. I continued down the hill trying to decide if I should say something to a guy who would start a beginner on this trail (and not something easier).
I abruptly stopped where he was waiting and politely asked how he was doing. He said he was doing well.
I told him his girlfriend was doing okay when I passed her, and then asked why he would bring her on this trail for her first mountain bike ride. He calmly stated that this was a long, beautiful ride and he thought she could handle it if she took it easy. It bothered me for awhile that he would pick this trail for her maiden ride. But the more I thought about it, I think he was right. She seemed to be taking it easy and the Bear Creek Trail seemed to have little traffic.
I continued to race down the Bear Creek Trail singletrack as I approached this last leg. The four bike riders from earlier were waiting for me when I reached the Deadman Gulch Trail (#420) Junction. I don’t know how they beat me there… they had never passed me back!
The video below will give you an idea of what this trail was like. To watch the video on a full screen click the icon in the lower right corner just to the right of the YouTube emblem.
To view all videos go to my YouTube channel at MountainBikeDiaries.
Ready for Part 4? Continue on to Deadman’s Gulch Trail