Deadman’s Gulch Trail is the last leg of a tremendous 20.1 mile mountain bike ride in Crested Butte, Colorado. Some might call this ride “Epic”. Click below to visit any of the previous three legs.
I was cruising down the Bear Creek Trail 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 still don’t know how they beat me there… they had never passed me back! All I can figure is they must have taken a slightly different route to get there. I could hardly believe they would have wanted to miss the magnificent trail I had ridden. Could their route been as wonderful as the Bear Creek Trail?
They were all looking at the sign… which had a hiker’s boot sitting on top of it. I rode up, said hello again, and found myself also looking at the boot. No one said anything for a couple of minutes… we just stood and stared at the sign. Finally, one of their faster riders said to me, “Why don’t you go first?” I thought about how fast he had flown by me on the Reno Divide trail. If I went first, no doubt he would pass me within the first 100 yards. I had the feeling I might be able to outride their slowest guy, but I didn’t want to split them up. “No, why don’t you guys head up first… I want to rest a little here and take my time climbing. Thanks for offering.” And so they left… while I continued staring at the boot on top of the sign.
Please enjoy this interactive map which shows not only Deadman’s Gulch Trail, but also the other three legs of this scenic loop. Deadman’s Gulch is represented by the blue segment below.
I knew we were all going to pay the price for the miles of wonderful downhill. Deadman’s Gulch turned out to be a grueling climb to the top of the pass… but did involve some interesting events.
While walking my bike (yes, I did a lot of that here) I came upon a man who was fly fishing a creek that was only about as wide as my trail (2 feet). The water ran straight through a flat grassy area that many of us would like to be our lawn. I couldn’t believe he could catch anything larger than a minnow in there.
I traded off… walking… riding… walking… hiking… and biking up Deadman’s Gulch… until I noticed another series of ponds that I believe were made by beaver. Once again, I didn’t see any beaver, but the ponds were all roughly the same size and seemed to be totally constructed using logs, just like the ones I saw in Flag Creek earlier in the day.
Then the motorcycles came. I quickly moved off the trail as one came alone, then 3 more blasted by. Later another one came. The next time I saw them was at the top of Deadman’s Gulch, where 4 of the motorcyclists were huddled around the other one’s bike. It turned out he had a flat tire so two of them went back to their camp to get some help. I thought of offering him one of my inner tubes, but finally decided they would probably not appreciate the humor.
The last piece of the Deadman’s Gulch Trail consists of 2 miles of switchbacks, all under the canopy of trees, all very muddy due to thunder showers the previous afternoon. I wasn’t sure what was going to wear out first, my hands or my brake pads. Descending such a steep, rocky, root-bound section requires strict concentration… one bad line and I’m over the edge. I was glad when the trail started to follow Cement Creek. About a half mile later I carried my bike across the big tree which crossed Cement Creek. I suspect the “semi-pros” most likely ride across this log… maybe in my younger days.
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 on go to my YouTube channel at MountainBikeDiaries.
Editor’s note: Guidebooks, maps and trail signs refer to this trail and gulch as Deadman Gulch Trail and Deadman’s Gulch Trail equally.