How is Crested Butte mountain biking?
So far I have found no better.
Crested Butte (CB) lies nestled in a high valley encircled by 12,000 foot Rocky Mountain peaks 30 miles north of Gunnison, Colorado.
What was initially an 1870’s coal and silver mining town is now a small (1,500 people) tourist destination with many Victorian style houses and shops. One of these “shops” is the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, which is appropriately placed as CB played a large part in getting mountain biking started.
The country’s first ever mountain biking event (called the Pearl Pass Tour) took place in 1976. This annual 38 mile ride starts in Crested Butte (8,924 feet altitude), climbs over the 12,705 foot Pearl Pass, and ends in Aspen (7,890 feet). The Pearl Pass Tour takes place every September, is free of charge, and is rated an expert ride.
Two miles northeast of CB you’ll find the much more modern looking Mount Crested Butte, a community comprised mostly of condos, a ski area, and a few local shops, which all sit at the base of 12,162 foot Crested Butte Mountain.
These two towns embrace mountain bikers. This was a shock to me, as people in San Diego County make many trails off limits to fat tire riders. California prohibits bike riding on all trails in its State Parks (except for special situations).
In contrast, it seems mountain bikers are welcomed on almost all trails in CB. As a matter of fact, you can’t drive into CB without seeing trails that parallel the highway. All major roads are accompanied by bike trails that run alongside. In addition, free shuttle buses will take you (and your bike) to-and-from Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.
The Crested Butte area has (arguably) the best collection of mountain biking trails in the United States, maybe the entire world. These rides all head out to higher country, which looks like it belongs in the Alps and reminds me of the old movies Heidi and The sound of Music. The area’s nickname is “Wildflower Capital of Colorado.”
I can name several trails that every biker would love to ride. All of these rides are likely more spectacular than any you have in your part of the country. San Diego (my home) has one trail that somewhat resembles these, and to get to that trail requires at least 30 minutes in the car and most people bring another shuttle vehicle.
The custom map I made below shows you locations for the best mountain biking trails in Crested Butte.
Despite there being over 400 miles of trails, all rides in the Crested Butte area can be started in town. As a matter of fact, most local mountain bikers would consider you a wussy if you drove to the trailhead to mountain bike.
Some might think the Reno Divide … Flag Creek … Bear Creek … Deadman’s Gulch loop as their favorite. This ride has fourteen miles on high meadow singletrack! Beaver dams! Crossing a river on a downed tree! All in one ride! Yes, this one is rightly considered an “epic” ride.
The Dyke Trail lies northwest of town and is less traveled by mountain bikers. That alone made it one of my favorites.
Strand Hill is another short but excellent ride.
Teocalli Ridge was highly touted by the Crested Butte locals but was totally washed out during my visit. And then there is … well, the list seems endless when you have limited time to spend there.
Whether you are a novice, a hot-shot “semi” pro, or a crusty old guy like me, I urge you to try Crested Butte mountain biking. I think you will truly love the trails.