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Crested Butte Mountain Biking: Colorado

Mountain Biking in Crested Butte, Colorado

Mountain Bike Destination Guide & GPX Files for Gunnison County, Colorado

Area includes:

  • Crested Butte
  • Gunnison
  • Pitkin

Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association

Founded in 1983! Welcome to the oldest Mountain bike club on the PLANET! Since 1983, CBMBA has been creating, maintaining, advocating, and putting mad love into over 450 miles of single track in the North end of the Gunnison Valley. Crested Butte is one of the founding homes of Mountain Biking. We are Bike Culture! From the streets in Town to the miles upon miles of track surrounding our Towns, we eat, sleep, and breathe Bicycles and Trails. Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association

Mountain Bike Routes & Trails

MTB Routes and Trails

Visit Crested Butte

The Crested Butte area has some of the best mountain biking in the country. This isn't happenstance. Many believe that true mountain biking really began in Crested Butte. The more you ride here, the more you realize why mountain biking endures here.

Many of the rides are long and epic. Even the shorter rides access incredible mountain scenery. There is so much beauty in these hills, that one of the best ways to see as much as you can in one summer is on a bike. To the well conditioned, thirty to fifty miles in a day is possible. For the novice, half of that will be a challenge. Even so, you will cover more ground on a bike in one day than just about any form of outdoor transportation.

Most of the trails around here have been slowly transformed into bike trails by the sheer number of people who ride them and maintain them. Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) is a very active local organization that is affiliated with the national organization IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association). CBMBA has been passionately involved in trail maintenance, trail protection, access, and land holder trust. Most of the small trail signs you'll see along the way are compliments of CBMBA.

The high alpine areas of Crested Butte are fragile. Please ride carefully and don't abuse the trails. Carry over wet areas. Stay on the main trail and don't braid boggy areas. Show the rest of the world that mountain bikers do care.

10 Awesome Trails of Crested Butte and Gunnison

"Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley offer an expansive mountain-biking experience like no other. The area's more than 750 miles of mountain-biking trails lead to wildflower-peppered valleys, unparalleled mountain vistas and multi-hued desert expanses. Read on to learn about some of our favorite Gunnison and Crested Butte mountain-biking trails. -- Travel Crested Butte

  • Trail 401 (Advanced)
  • Dyke Trail (Advanced)
  • Doctors Park (Intermediate/Advanced)
  • Lupine (Beginner/Intermediate)
  • Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman (Intermediate/Advanced)
  • Strand Hill (Intermediate)
  • Teocalli Trail (Intermediate/Advanced)
  • Lower Loop (Beginner)
  • Hartman Rocks (Beginner to Advanced)
  • Monarch Crest (Advanced/Expert)
  • Lower Cement Creek Trail (Beginner/Intermediate)

Why Crested Butte?

Most of the mountain biking in Crested Butte is not for the meek. Even the area's Ride Guide says, "It's understandable to think 'extreme' when thinking of mountain biking Crested Butte. And trust us, there is plenty of that -- monstrous climbs, wickedly steep descents, all-day outings that will test the endurance of the most hard-core athletes." The Ride Guide notes that the 2-mile Lupine Trail is "no doubt, really the only beginner singletrack ride" in Crested Butte. However, we saw a a 9-year-old girl from Louisiana riding this trail with her family -- yes, she'd fallen a couple times but she was having a blast! So pack some courage, a little patience, and the gumption of a 9-year old, 'cuz you don't want to miss Crested Butte!

Crested Butte claims to be the birthplace of mountain biking, so need we say more? This town of just 1,500 people even had a Mountain Biking Hall of Fame and Museum! The story goes that in the 70s, the locals starting kluging together old junkers, road bikes, and a few motorcycle parts into quasimodos that could handle the town's weather-beaten roads. It was just a matter of time before someone ventured onto a trail, not unlike the first fish crawling out of the sea onto dry land, and voila! Mountain biking is born. Sadly, you can no longer visit the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame and Museum in Crested Butte. For some reason, it moved to Marin County California. But the Butte still hosts the world's oldest mountain biking festival, including the Chainless World Championship and other memorable races and events. Townie tours, women's skills classes, and guided mountain bike rides are all available during the festival.

Ride Suggestions

For easier rides, you can link the Lupine Trail with the Lower Loop, which offers some relatively flat and smooth trails right from downtown. ​Beginners and novices can also take a lesson at the Evolution Bike Park and ride their new easy and intermediate trails, such as the Columbine Trail and Painter Boy Trail. And no, you don't have to pay a dime to ride there (unless you want to); hop on the gently switchbacking Up and Away to ride to a variety of trails, including 15 rated as easy or intermediate (as well as techy black diamonds like Woods for the experts). The bike park has an impressive assortment of trails that adds more variety to the Butte's reputation for extreme. Strong intermediates will like the Snodgrass Trail and sections of the Upper Loop. Whatever your ability level, after a few rides in Crested Butte, you too may decide it's "the country's best mountain biking destination"!

We can't think of any rides in Crested Butte that don't take you through stunning scenery. Trails like Snodgrass and the Upper Loop (nice intermediate rides) wind through stands of stately aspen trees, with their striking white bark and rustling leaves that explode into firey gold in the fall. And trails like the 401 and Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadmans lead you to incredible views and thrilling descents through vast meadows where "the wildflowers are so tall they'll rip your handlebars off" (as overheard on the 401). Beginner rides, like the Lower Loop and Lupine Trail, serve up stellar views, too.

Tips

Altitude

Remember, you're starting at nearly 9,000 feet above sea level before you even get to a trailhead. Rides like Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadmans will take you above 11,000 feet, so be sure you're acclimated. Drinking plenty of water will help. Don't underestimate how long these rides may take. The401and the Dyke trails are just under 14 miles but can take 4 to 5 hours. And Crested Butte gets rain -- sometimes lots of it. When that happens, resort to Plan B and head to Gunnison to ride Hartman Rocks!

Weather

We hear that Crested Butte has only 45 frost-free days per year! So plan accordingly if you don't want to fat bike in the snow. July and August are the best times to mountain bike in Crested Butte. Early to mid September is great for catching the changing aspens in the chilly air. With such a short summer season, the town makes sure to celebrate seemingly every chance it gets. Check the Crested Butte calendar and time your visit with a special event, ranging from beer and chili to wildflowers to -- of course -- the world's oldest mountain bike festival.

Test Your Abilities

Need an endurance test? Ride Pearl Pass 38 miles to Aspen, an "insanely strenuous," highly technical ride, with several unrideable sections. Or try the only slightly less heinous, but equally long, ride over Star Pass and Taylor Pass to Aspen. Either way, you get major bragging rights, especially if you do the it during the Klunker Classic. Just don't underestimate these rides; you'll be climbing above 12,000 feet! ​

Riding in Crested Butte

Often overused, terms "classics" and "epics" are pure Crested Butte. Most rides at Crested Butte -- including those classics on your bucket list -- are rugged, day-long events in brutally thin air that will test even the hardiest riders. Many are loop rides that involve miles (read: hours) of grinding up dirt roads before you even hit the singletrack. And some of those initial climbs are doozies, like Doctor Park. But the payoff is big in terms of scenery, trail quality, and downhill thrills. The singletrack is truly "single," like a skinny string snaking through tree trunks, where flowers whip your face as you fly by. And if the roads are really too much, just cheat a little and take a shuttle.

Crested Butte, Colorado Fat Biking

Fat biking is a fun winter activity that has recently been introduced in the Crested Butte area. This new activity is a great alternative to skiing in the winter. Fat bikes were introduced in 2009, and have seen a lot of growth in the past 5 years. These funny looking bikes are made to fit 3.5″ + tires, and extra wide rims. Because of the wide footprint, accompanied by low tire pressure, these bikes loft very well on snow. There are a few rental options in the valley and plenty of places to roam about.

"The roots of mountain biking in Crested Butte are almost as deep as skiing's, and are spread throughout our town's culture. Fat tire bikes used to be the only way to get around the pot-holed dirt streets of Crested Butte in the 70's. Naturally people just kept riding them further and further from town until they reached Aspen, and the rest is history. Nowadays we keep these traditions alive with events like the Pearl Pass Tour, and the oldest mountain biking club in the United States, the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association.

Gunnison and Crested Butte are known as a mountain biking treasure chest with over 750 miles of trails to ride. Try asking the locals what their favorite trail is and you'll get answers as heated and opinionated as a bunch of southerners debating barbeque. In the end it comes down taste; alpine singletrack, desert rocks, or pine forest plunges." -- Gunnison - Crested Butte

Fat Bike Trails

North Village Trails

Rec Path

Town Ranch Trails

Of Note

As these fun bikes become more popular, the access where they are allowed will grow. Currently they are off limits on most nordic trails other than Town Ranch, Riverbend Trails, Recreation Path, and North Village Trails. All of the valley drainages are open to fat bikes as it is public land. If you intend on riding on the above mentioned nordic trails, you will need to buy a pass, $40 for the year or $5 for the day. Head over to the Crested Butte Nordic Center for more details. For updated conditions check out Gunnison Crested Butte Fat Bikers.

Pitkin

Coming Soon

Gunnison

For something completely different, head south about a half hour from Crested Butte to to Gunnison to experience Hartman Rocks, which offers 40 enticing miles of singletrack trails and 33 miles of road in a craggy rock garden desert environment for beginner to advanced riders . This is a rock lover's playground, full of fun challenges and a crazy network of options. The Rocks even has newly added adaptive hand cycling trails for hand cyclists who want a challenge. Get a good map so you can find your way back!

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