Strand Hill … Aspens… Meadows… Rocky Mountain Views
I was pretty sure I could do the Strand Hill ride when I saw the 7-year old kid getting onto his bike while I was unloading mine. We were at the Brush Creek Trailhead. Cindy was dropping me off here before she went on her hike to Oh Be Joyful Falls. I was going to ride the 6.5 miles back to town after doing Strand Hill.
This was to be my first ride in the Crested Butte area and I was not sure how well my training was going to hold up. I was hoping I could do another ride when I got back to town… maybe the Lower Loop.
Please enjoy this interactive map of the entire ride.
The blue “P” marks the Trailhead.
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After saying goodbye and hearing my customary “be careful” I set off down Brush Creek Road. The guy in the bike shop said I should do: Canal Trail-to-Bonus Trail-to-Strand Hill Trail… so that is what I had set out to do. I passed the fellow with the 7-year old son after about a quarter mile.
After about one mile I passed a trailhead which I assumed was Strand Hill (it had no sign) and continued toward the Canal Trail… which was supposed to be another mile. Trouble was… when I had gone the extra mile I saw no trailhead and no sign. I looked around a bit… then began to wonder if I had misunderstood the fellow.
I rode back to the first trailhead, and climbed over the “stile”.
I had read books to my kids and grand kids that talked about a “crooked stile” but never really knew what a stile was. Now I know it is a ladder in an inverted “V” shape made for climbing over fences.
When I caught up with the father and son they were messing with their bikes. I said hello and asked if they needed anything, to which the dad said “No, thanks anyway.” I kept on going. I was not more than quarter mile up the trail (double track) when they passed me. The boy’s bike was attached to the dad’s with a bungie cord.
I was sucking wind by this point and they blew right by me. I think I learned a little of what an asthmatic experiences. I pushed it to try to keep up and we rode together to a trail junction. They climbed off their bikes and began eating a snack. I tried to gain my breath, gulped water, and began asking questions (as I usually do). This was when I found out the boy was seven and had been riding up here since he was five. The man said they lived in Crested Butte and his kids began riding bikes (and skiing) when they learned to walk.
He told me how he took bikes and made them into “striders” something I had never heard about. He said you took off the pedals and cranks and the kids use their feet to push themselves around. He said he would move the furniture in the house and the kids would run races around a course through the kitchen and living room. His wife was not real thrilled about this but tolerated it… especially in the winter when they couldn’t get outside much due to the weather. The boy said this was a new, bigger bike and he was also going to need new skis this year.
I wished them a good ride and started up toward Strand Hill (they were going to be taking the Bonus Trail). My ride was up a long, steep hill … but it ran through a beautiful grove of Aspens. I rarely saw trees this gorgeous in Southern California. I rode in awe of Mother Nature, as I usually do.
The top of Strand Hill is a big meadow. I could see distant mountains any direction I looked. I could see that the Rocky Mountains were not near as jagged as the Sierra Nevada I had backpacked in. The Rockies did seem to have a lot more green vegetation on their flanks. The Sierra was pretty much solid granite.
After cruising across the meadow I began a fun (but demanding) single track through another Aspen forest … with jutting roots, rocks, and tight, tight turns. The Strand Hill Trail was quite wet due to total shade and the thunderstorms from the previous afternoon. My bike kicked up plenty of mud giving me a racing stripe down my back.
When The Strand gets to the bottom of the hill it meets the Canal Trail.
Taking the left would have taken me back toward the Brush Creek Trailhead … but I chose to go right and explore.
The Canal Trail follows Middle Brush Creek back into the woods for about a mile. When I thought I was in the “boonies”… away from modern civilization… I wheeled around a corner and spied an auto (not even 4-wheel drive) and a couple of tents. I was surprised to see these people across the creek. Good thing I hadn’t needed to fertilize the trail side!
After reaching the end of the Canal Trail I did an about-face and raced all the way back down the trail …passing the Strand turnoff… passing the Bonus turnoff …and finally coming to Brush Creek Road.
Actually, the junction of the Canal Trail and Brush Creek Road is a lot easier to detect riding down the Canal Trail. Near it’s end the Canal Trail drops off a steep bank into a stream… then crosses an open field to the road. The sign for the Canal Trail is anchored in the bank where the trail drops into the creek… a good 50 yards from the road (I could see why I hadn’t seen the trail sign at the start).
A young lady and her two kids were wading in the creek when I arrived… and when I reached the road I ran into dad, who was in the process of getting his bike ready. Maybe he was going to do the ride as described to me by the bike shop worker!
I pointed my steed downhill and started my trip back to town. When I reached the town of Crested Butte I’d ridden 10.4 miles and I felt great.
After a small snack and drink, I headed out on the Lower Loop Trail.
Below you will find the video taken on my Strand Hill Ride.
To view all videos please go to my YouTube channel at MountainBikeDiaries.
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